February 25, 2012

Researching at Columbus Metropolitan Library: Abundant Genealogy

For Week 8 of her series 52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy, Amy Coffin asks: Genealogy libraries (and dedicated departments in regular libraries) are true treasures in the family history community. Tell us about your favorite genealogy library. What or who makes it special?

I have two favorite places to do genealogical research in Central Ohio: the Columbus Metropolitan Library main branch and the Ohio Historical Society Archives/Library. To give a more detailed treatment of each, I’ve decided to do two separate posts, with the second one to follow next week.
Columbus Metropolitan Library
The Columbus Metropolitan Library main branch (CML) is where I fell in love with family history research. The classically elegant old building, a legacy of philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, has grown with the city over the years. Many years ago, I used to descend the worn marble stairs to the children's department. But the crown jewel of the library for me these days is the third floor in the new addition, home of the  Genealogy, History, and Travel Department.

Thanks to a dedicated staff and the acquisition of several important collections, CML is evolving into a major repository for those tracing their family history. It has resources for all 88 Ohio counties, plus state and county resources for other states. CML also boasts a substantial collection of family histories, military histories and records, city directories, maps and atlases, and lineage society books. Resources for tracing British, Huguenot, and German-speaking ancestors are particularly strong.

The work area features plenty of light and table space. Everything is available to browse in the stacks. Staff members are always wiling to give a quick tour, answer a question, or help a patron find something. That’s a good thing, because the amount of material has really grown. Over the past few years CML has been the recipient of sizable collections from:
  • The State Library of Ohio
  • Ohio Daughters of the American Revolution
  • Ohio Huguenot Society
  • Joy Wade Moulton British Isles Collection
  • Palatines to America Germanic Genealogy Collection
  • Franklin County Genealogical and Historical Society
All of these have been fully integrated into the library’s catalog, which is accessible from the Genealogy Department homepage. The page is loaded with links to other resources and tools. One of my favorites is The Columbus Dispatch Obituary Search, which indexes the years 1931-1997. A number of premium resources, including Heritage Quest, are accessible to library cardholders from home. (Update: in the few days since I published this post, CML changed the look and URLs of its webpages. I’ve changed the screen shot and links to reflect the changes.)

Russ Pollitt, department head, is active in local and state genealogy organizations. He and his staff have been busy digitizing the library’s photographic and postcard collections for the Columbus Memory project.
Russ Pollitt in the Genealogy, History, & Travel Department
A microfilm reading room on the same floor holds collections of over 20 historic newspapers, all censuses for Franklin County, and the Civil War prison records of Camp Chase, among other things. Microfilm printouts are free.

If you plan to go, here's some good things to know: The main Columbus Metropolitan Library is located at 96 S. Grant Ave., Columbus, Ohio 43215; phone (614) 645-2275. There’s an on-site parking garage (take the parking ticket into the library with you; you’ll pay before leaving the building). Photocopies are 10 cents. Computers are available in the department, or bring your own. CML was named Library of the Year by Library Journal in 2010.

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  1. Shelley, thanks for the library tour! When I travel back east to visit relatives in Columbus, I've stopped in at the OHS library, but I've never thought to check out the downtown branch of the Columbus library!

    Looking forward to reading your post on the OHS library, by the way!

    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Jacqi! Hope you get a chance to check the library out the next time you're in Columbus.

  2. Shelley, what a thorough and well-written post for CML!

    It was great to meet you today.

  3. Shelley, at Nancy's suggestion and with your approval I am going to include a link to this post on the Hamilton County Genealogical Society Blog. http://hcgsohio.blogspot.com
    It's the second post.

  4. Absolutely, Kathy, I'd be delighted to have you link to this post as an addendum to Nancy's excellent article.

  5. Shelley,

    You did such a terrific job of covering the Columbus Metro Library!!

    1. Thanks, Dorene. And I loved your review of the Sandusky Library!

  6. Great post Shelley-- now I'll really have to make a point to take advantage of this great resource that is so close! Can't wait till next week to hear about the Ohio Historical Society's Archives & Library!

    1. We'll have to meet at the library some day for research, Jennifer. It's funny--no matter how many times I go there, I never run out of things to do!

  7. Shelley-
    You always do such a thorough informative on any subject you tackle. You are consistently amazing. After the meet up in Ft. Wayne, I won't even try to do it justice, I have planned to refer them to your blog instead.

    1. Thanks for those kind words, Margel. I'm so glad to hear you're coming to the Midwest meet-up in Ft. Wayne--it will be great to see you!

  8. Looks like I forgot a few words, but you get the idea. Sorry. Too many distractions.

    1. LOL, no worries. Distraction is my middle name, or so it seems most days :)


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