August 16, 2015 at 6:19 pm #1058Georgia PardeyParticipant
On 7th August, the State Library of Queensland (SLQ) ran the program Tracking Immigrant Ancestors. Stephanie Ryan, the Senior Librarian of Family History at SLQ, delivered a 90-minute lecture and Q&A session with approximately 50 patrons in attendance. It was immediately evident that the program was well organised with two library staff members directing attendees and one providing printed literature. The sound system and seating quality of the auditorium were excellent, as can be expected of a large institution such as the State Library. Stephanie Ryan had clearly considered her audience before the event as she cracked jokes and kept everyone engaged. The slideshow simplified her talk into key points and the information sheets provided freed the patrons from harried note taking. Interesting case studies were used and she gave critical feedback on the effectiveness of SLQ family history services as well as external sites. Feedback forms were also provided on entry, enabling the library to consider how similar programs should be conducted in future.
This is a photograph of George Pardey, a relative of mine, with images from his photography studio in Cowra (1983). I found this using Trove – an online database of Australian history artefacts hosted by the National Library of Australia – that was one service evaluated in the presentation.
Rod Gauvin, Senior Vice President of Publishing and Global Content Alliances with ProQuest, commented at the Reference Roundtable that the open web was dwarfing the good reference work available in library institutions. Keren Barner corroborates this observation and adds that the library is not necessarily a mediator to information in the digital era. The SLQ offers some resistance to this trend by offering subscription services to Ancestry.com and Find My Past when on site at the library. Utilising these sites privately means paying extra fees for access to certain content. The incentive of free access gets family history researchers into the library where the milieu of other services and programs are available. The list of resources is extensive: CDs, online catalogue, Trove, birth, death and marriage records, shipping indexes/records, electoral rolls & directories, biographies, photographs, newspapers, local histories, government reports, letters, memoirs, diaries, clipping files and multi-resource indexes. A breakdown of these can be found online where a large portion of information is already available.
A 2012 survey of reference librarians discussed in the Saunders article, found that 81% of respondents were involved with ‘instruction’ activities. This survey investigated academic libraries, rather than public libraries, but the results are still useful to consider. Saunders outlines one-shot sessions as an instruction activity and the SLQ program can be considered in this context. While not conducted by a reference librarian, the program carried out reference work in assessing the resources and services applicable to family history. The goal of the seminar was to provide specified information literacy instruction for enthusiasts who are predominantly not enrolled in higher education or research based jobs at this time.
SLQ has engineered an enjoyable and useful program for family history researchers and delivered it without a hitch. Stephanie Ryan elucidated research methods and impediments of the field while promoting the services and reference work capabilities of the library.
August 17, 2015 at 7:11 pm #1098Natalie AndersonParticipant
As someone who is heavily involved in researching my family history, I found your post particularly enjoyable. I’m mad that I missed out on this program.
I now pay with Ancestry.com and sometimes a ‘pay as I go’ with Find my Past, but in times when I do not want to pay anymore, I go into SLQ. I did not know about access births, death and marriages through SLQ, so thanks for that.
I think the genealogy websites are great but yes they do have some negative impacts. From what I believe, access to records used to be easier before Ancestry took a lot of control, leaving people to have to pay for that service (I could be wrong about this, it is just feedback from family that used it previously). Also, some people can be quite protective of the information they have retrieved, and remain ‘private’, or perhaps not even add to the website itself. These apprhensions are in reponse of ‘ownership’ , which is interesting as who really owns the information.
So, SLQ providing this service and programme, ensures users to be more capabable and confident.
A wee bit of a ramble, I’m just a bit of family history fanatic.
- This reply was modified 5 years, 6 months ago by Natalie Anderson.
August 21, 2015 at 5:04 pm #1170Georgia PardeyParticipant
I’m glad you got something out of my review. It was a really interesting program and I’ll definitely use that information some day in the future when I conduct my own family history research. It’s interesting what you said about ownership of information. It is a pity that more people don’t share their findings as it would help others in piecing things together. Since a lot of this information is in public records, it’s curious that people prefer to keep it private. That said, I do like that Ancestry.com acknowledges information that you share as your own. If you’ve worked particularly hard to track down some records then it’s useful to link your profile to the findings.
Good luck with your research!
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