My Genealogy Library and How I Built It Economically

03 February 2014 4:50 PM Posted by Brenda L.

Reading genealogy related materials has been an important part of my growth as a family historian.  I love to read!  I am the type that when I take on a new challenge, such as genealogy, I research what I need to do before I start.

I read online articles and visited the local history section of my public library.  Many of the books at the library were unavailable for checkout.  It wasn't long before I wanted to build my own library.  There were a few books that I would go back to again and again at the library.  Those are the ones I started adding initially.  I don't remember what the first book I bought was, but I would guess it was either Red Book or The Source.  I know both are available online at ancestry, but I wanted my own hard copy of it.

As I became more proficient in beginning genealogy research, I was encountering a few problems-brick walls, anyone?  It was then that I looked for resources that would further my education on what was challenging me in my research.  This is when I added The Family Tree Problems Solver books and Courthouse Research for the Family Historian.

Next, I found I was doing a lot of New England Research.  I added general New England books to my library.  When it was time to 'jump the pond' and look for my European ancestors I found I was doing a lot of German Research.  I took a four hour German Research workshop at the FGS conference, in 2011, and was given a lot of German resources to check out.  Again, I found myself at the library and at Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne.  I reviewed the recommended resources.  I made a list of the ones I thought would be useful and added them to my library as I could.

FGS Conference in Fort Wayne came along in 2013 and I was once again wanting to add to my library.  I attended a Scottish research class, given by Paul Milner, he humbly recommended his book "A Genealogist's Guide to Scottish Ancestors", but he said it was out of print.  I, immediately, got online to see if I could find a used copy of it and did for about $3!

I have stayed away from published genealogies for a variety of reasons, but early in my research I found a Glover Memorials and Genealogies book.  I had to order it, it is my maiden name.  It has been interesting to read through it.  I use it for guidance, but always look for a credible source before adding it to my Roots Magic software.  As with any source, some of the information is accurate and some is not.

I don't use my books everyday, but it is nice knowing when I am up late at night researching, I can go to my bookcase and look up questions I might have.

Buying books can be an expensive habit, but  I have found ways to build a library without mortgaging our house.  Here are a few tips I have used to save money.

  • Ask for books as gifts-Make a wish list and give it those who buy gifts for you regularly.  I would never spend $50 on a book myself, but my mother would as a Christmas gift. 
  • Used Book Stores-I don't have a good used book store in my hometown, but if I go somewhere that does, I make sure to check it out.  I have found good deals here.  
  • Thrift Stores-I enjoy checking out my local thrift stores for books.  You never know what you might find.  I found a used copy of  "Genealogical Proof Standards" for 50 cents.  I couldn't turn that deal down.
  • Online buying-Check out places like half.com, amazon.com, or barnes and noble.com.  The out of print Scottish Ancestor book was found at Barnes and Noble.com.  I have added quite a few used books that I purchased at half.com.  Half.com has new and used books at discount prices. Half.com descriptions of condition are pretty accurate.  They will say if it is a used library edition.  My "Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy" was a discarded library book in excellent condition. It has the call number sticker and library address stamp on it. I think I paid $7.00 for it.
  • Look for sales-I regularly check sites such as Family Roots Publishing or Genealogical Publishing Co. to see what books they have on sale.
  • Visit library sales-Our public library has a sale every year and I try to go to it to see what they have to offer.  I haven't found very many genealogy books at our library, but my daughter and I went to the Newberry Library's sale in Chicago and I found a few.  I found "In Search of Your German Roots" and Finding Italian Roots".  They had quite a few genealogy and local history books there.  The prices were very reasonable too. 
Are you more interested in online books than hard copies of them?  If so, be sure to read this excellent article on ten online resources, many of them free.  I find that if I keep going back to a book over and over again for information then it is time to add that book to my library.  I use online book resources for printed town or county histories and other historical books about an area my ancestor lived in.  

No matter how you get your information, online or hard copy, it is important to include reading in your genealogical development.  If you would like to see what is in my library, check the My Library tab at the top of the page.

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