By Sean CW Korsgaard
A lot of people use the warm summer months to flesh out the branches of their family trees. To any looking to start or even those stuck on a tricky local branch, Charlene Harris, Assistant Director of Caroline County Public Libraries, wants to be the first to offer the aid of the local library.
“It’s a wonderful service, very easy to use,” said Harris. “We’re always happy to help where we can doing research as well.”
For people doing research on their family trees, the local library has always been a wonderful resource for those doing genealogy research, for both newcomers and experienced researchers, because many house important documents like including historical newspapers on microfilm, census records, cemetery records, military records, family history books and family file information.
Caroline Public Libraries though, go even farther than most libraries according to Harris.
“We are very fortunate to have had Herbert Collins, who in addition to being a fount of knowledge, donated a treasure trove of genealogy books and records to the library,” said Harris. “As a result we have a very extensive available collection for visitors, even if they must be accompanied by a librarian if they’re viewing books in the back.”
Access to the hundreds of books donated by Collins, a former executive and curator at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, has made the Caroline County Public Libraries, and the Bowling Green library where his collection is housed specifically, regional Mecca’s for those doing family research.
In addition to various traditional resources available to those doing family research, Caroline County Public Libraries has a deal with ncestry.com to allow free access to the site for anyone with a library card using any library computer.
According to Harris, interest in the various family research resources at the library is sporadic, peaking in the summer months as more people go on vacation at around 10-15 people a month on average. While that number may seem small, the impact on their lives cannot be measured.
“We get calls from all over, and even visitors who stop by on summer vacation, and either way, we’re always happy to help where we can,” said Harris. “Just the other day we had a visitor from Colorado, who was passing through the area on his way to Baltimore. By the time he left, he’d found a great-great-grandfather who had lived in the area during the 1800’s, and that’s a family connection he’ll always have to Caroline County.”