Swan, James. The Librarian’s Guide to Genealogical Services and Research.

New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers, 2004. 361p., softcover. Index, illus. $75.00. ISBN 1-55570-491-3.

Working the reference desk in the Genealogy Department of a large public library can be an eye-opening experience. You have to know (or be able to identify) the principal resources for family research that might be very different from your own personal research, often involving regions of the country and ethnic groups with which you have limited experience. You have to be able to instruct beginners in the most basic concepts, often many times each day.

And, perhaps most important, you have to be willing to listen (politely) to rambling family stories from library patrons. Swan has been doing all that for forty years — even longer than me — and has managed to maintain his enthusiasm to a remarkable degree. He’s written a half-dozen previous books on various aspects of library administration and management, but this is his first work that I have seen in genealogy, and it’s a terrific book. Where many such guides merely supply lists of names and addresses, and pointers to web sites, he tries to show the professional librarian who is a novice to genealogy how to select the best information sources and what to do with the data one finds. He provides excellent advice on building a genealogy book collection and developing a collection of subscription databases, developing genealogy instruction programs in the library, cooperating with local professional researchers, and staying current with the literature. He includes an assortment of forms and classroom handouts, as well as a state-by-state directory of highly selected web and computer resources of special interest to librarians — all of which are also on the enclosed CD. I will go so far as to say that this volume, while not cheap, should be required reading for any genealogy librarian, instructor, mentor, or consultant.

Published in: on 12 June 2011 at 5:32 am  Leave a Comment  

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