After almost 20 years in the basement, the genealogy department of the Miami Public Library is back upstairs.
Replacing the reference department, the genealogy department is now right at the fingertips of the library's patrons.
“It's much more accessible and convenient for our patrons,” said Marcia Johnson, head librarian.“In the past, if someone came in and wanted to do some research, we could only allow them downstairs if the genealogy librarian or a volunteer was there to supervise.”
The most used reference materials are now located in several spaces in the library with the remaining books in the basement.
“If someone wants a reference book, the staff will be happy to go downstairs and get it for them,” Johnson said. “But, I think people might be surprised by how little some of these books are used.”
The genealogy books are now on the first floor shelves.
“All I have to do is put the labels on the shelves,” said Barbara Becker, genealogy librarian. “I'm waiting for a new cabinet to be made for our computer and the transition will be completed.
“The department had been outgrowing its basement space for some time. It's nice that we now have space for some new books.”
Noise level is a concern on both sides of the new genealogy department.
“I questioned our being a little too noisy for the rest of the library, especially when someone makes a discovery,” Becker said. “But, genealogists are different from everyone else. When we're on a trail we tune everything else out.”
“I questioned the library being too noisy for the genealogy department, especially with the children's summer reading program activities,” Johnson said with a laugh. “We'll just have to see.”
Johnson said she was pleased that the genealogy department is now more visible.
“We've had people come in who didn't even realize we had such a collection,” she said. “Now it's back up here where everyone can see it.”
Becker is trying to enhance the genealogy department making it useful for the four-state area as well as all 77 Oklahoma counties.
“We're still looking for high school yearbooks, particularly the 1930s and 1940s,” she said. “We're also looking for phone directories from the 1920s and 1930s.”