(This is a guest post by Rhonda Konig, Genealogy Specialist at the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library.)
On October 6th, an evening of fellowship and discovery was hosted by the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library (BECPL) and the Western New York Genealogical Society (WNYGS). A “Genealogy Lock-In” was organized in support of the Western New York Genealogy Conference: Finding Home & Forging the Future. The all-day WNYGS conference featured award-winning genealogists such as D. Joshua Taylor, a host of PBS’s Genealogy Roadshow and president of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, and Blaine Bettinger, author of The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy and Genetic Genealogy in Practice. The conference was held at the Embassy Suites in Downtown Buffalo.
The Lock-In offered genealogists from Wisconsin, Kansas, California, and other faraway places an opportunity for after-hours research in the Grosvenor Room. The Grosvenor Room is the Library’s Special Collections Department and repository of its genealogy, local history, maps, music scores, and rare book materials.
The night began with an overview of the Library’s genealogy collection, presented by Genealogy Librarian, Rhonda Konig. “Must See” resources such as WNY church records, vital records, the WNYGS library (housed in the Grosvenor Room), and Erie County Poorhouse records were featured. (Keep watching the Library’s Digital Collections webpage for the Poorhouse records; they are coming soon and they are fascinating.)
Personalized assistance was provided by BECPL genealogy specialists and WNYGS volunteers throughout the night. Volunteers included WNYGS President and Augspurger Award winner, Jennifer Liber Raines; WNYGS board member and professional genealogist, Nancy Koester; and Niagara Falls Historian, Elaine Timm.
Participants immersed themselves in the Library’s resources, completed checklists, and shared stories of families or facts found. Most stayed until the event ended, 10:00 p.m.
By all accounts, the Lock-In was a success. Our visitors were happy to have library access that worked with their tight travel schedules, and staff and volunteers enjoyed sharing their expertise and showcasing Western New York.
WNYLRC’s 51st Annual Meeting of the Membership was held on Wednesday, October 4th at the Marcy Casino in Delaware Park.
We featured a theme of “Public Art” this year, with 2 time slots for people to select from among 5 tour locations. With choices such as the Buffalo History Museum and the Burchfield Penney Art Center, there were many possible works to appreciate. Each location had a guide leading the group on a tour of the public art at that location. I and my WNYLRC colleague Olivia Helfer were at the Buffalo History Museum. The on-and-off rain sometimes forced us inside the building, but we even learned a lot about the pieces in there too.
At the meeting itself, Board President John Hood (Ecology & Environment) ran the business meeting and spoke some inspirational words about the future of WNYLRC. Then Aaron Ott, of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, gave a fascinating talk on his initiatives with public art in the city of Buffalo.
We also had our Awards presentations. Every year our Awards Committee works hard to solicit nominations and select winners in different categories. This year’s winners were:
Excellence in Library Service Award
Donna Shine, Buffalo Irish Genealogical Society
Buffalo, New York
Excellence in Library Service Award
Amanda Shepp, Marion H. Skidmore Library
Lily Dale Assembly, Lily Dale, New York
Outstanding Library or Library Program
Workforce Development Programs
Buffalo & Erie County Public Library
Buffalo, New York
Regional discussion on issues of organizations having little or no space to store and display collections was held at the Western New York Library Resources Council yesterday.
Over 20 attendees from organizations in the Buffalo Niagara region heard from speakers representing three different “space sharing” experiences: Hamburg municipal governments (Brian Wielinski), The Niagara Arts & Cultural Center (the NACC; Rachel Macklin Olszewski) and the Buffalo Irish Genealogical Society (BIGS) at the Heritage Discovery Center (Diane Blaser and Donna Shine). Brian described how four different government entities share and manage a physical records storage space in Hamburg, Rachel described the genesis of the NACC and how it has evolved into an anchor for the community, offering space for individuals and organizations in the performing arts, music, culture, folk art, and more; Donna and Diane shared their experiences at the Heritage Discovery Center where their BIGS collection is housed in a physical space owned by the WNY Railway Society as part of an exchange in services that the Railway group gets help from them in cataloging their railroad collections.
Discussion topics included grants and other funding sources for building physical spaces; the pros and cons of owning versus renting a physical space; balancing exhibit, storage and processing spaces; ways that organizations can connect among themselves and with other community groups to identify common interests and collecting strengths, facilitating moving towards a shared space experience and more! One main thought that came out of the event was that perhaps there is a need to conduct a major assessment of collections content across the region. Knowing what collections are held by different organizations (what topics or subjects they cover) as well as physical attributes like volume of materials, physical condition, degree to which a collection is processed and or is cataloged in some fashion – all this could go a long way towards mobilizing a plan of action.
What are your thoughts on sharing space? How much room do you have left to house your collection, especially if it continues to grow or the space is being re-purposed for other uses….join the conversation!
At WNYLRC, we always encourage our members to consider digitizing items for the statewide portals New York Heritage or New York State Historic Newspapers. However, there may be some misconceptions about our digitization programs and procedures that are holding you back. Let’s take a look at some of these digitization myths.
Myth #1: You can only digitize something after applying for an RBDB Grant.
Our RBDB grants can be a useful source of funding for your digitization project, but they aren’t required. Maybe you plan to use your institution’s existing time and resources. Or maybe you have funding from another source. It’s all fine with us. All you need to do is fill out our collection application and our Regional Advisory Committee will review it. They’ll decide whether it is an appropriate addition to NYH or NYSHN and we will let you know. Applications are accepted year-round.
Myth #2: Digitization is Expensive.
It doesn’t have to be. If you decide to outsource the scanning to a vendor, then there may or may not be a significant cost. But you could do the scanning in-house, as long as you have a good quality scanner. Check the digitization guidelines for NYH and NYSHN to be certain you know what’s required.
On the other hand, if you consider that “time is money,” outsourcing the digitization may save you some money in comparison to staff time spent on doing it. Many professional digitization companies have automated systems and other cost-saving measures that can make their scanning more efficient. It never hurts to get a quote and do a comparison.
Myth #3: I can’t digitize because I don’t know anything about metadata or the software.
From the time your proposed collection is approved, WNYLRC will be with you throughout the process. For New York Heritage, we will train you in how to create good quality metadata for your items, based on the project’s requirements and recommended best practices. We will also train you in using the CONTENTdm Project Client to upload your images and metadata, or we may even be able to do the uploading for you. For NYS Historic Newspapers, it’s not necessary to create metadata because it’s taken from the publication’s MARC record.
Western New York libraries are fortunate to have supportive legislators in our area, such as State Senator Tim Kennedy and State Assembly Member Crystal Peoples-Stokes. Through the years, they have worked to secure funding for libraries as well as literacy programs. Staff for both legislators spoke in our first LIBTalks video, about advocating for library funding.
And now, Kennedy and Peoples-Stokes will be holding a town hall meeting focusing on the importance of all types of libraries and how they make a difference in the lives of the people in their districts. This is the place for members of the public to talk about what their libraries (public, academic, and others) mean to them.
The event will be held on September 23rd from 10am to 11am. It will be located in the “Ring of Knowledge” at the central downtown library in the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library system. No registration is required.
In 2015, I signed up for Design for Learning (D4L) an online course that taught library workers how to design instruction and teach online. It was created through a partnership of the Empire State Library Network and Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies, with funding from an IMLS grant.
I was in the second cohort, and the class was taught on the Moodle course management system. I have done a lot of teaching in-person, and presented a handful of webinars, but this dealt with a different kind of education – asynchronous online learning, where not all students are viewing the content at the same time. This was new to me, so I definitely learned a lot of new strategies and techniques. I particularly got a lot of information out of the second module, the “Foundation” module, which got into the nuts & bolts of planning the course content and how to deliver it.
As the project manager for Ask Us 24/7, New York State’s cooperative chat reference service, I used that as material for my capstone project, where we had to develop part of a real online course. This project became the basis for a course that WNYLRC is offering in October: Online Searching for Librarians Doing Virtual Reference. You can sign up on our website, like all of our workshops, and will later receive a login to our course space on WNYLRC’s Moodle site.
D4L has now been adapted for, and moved to, Webjunction, as a self-paced course. I highly recommend it if you want to learn how to teach online.
As you probably know, an epidemic of opioid addiction that’s sweeping the country. But you don’t have to be a doctor or counselor to help fight it. Let’s see how librarians can help.
In our latest LIBTalks video, Tom Vitale of the Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Library System provided a wealth of information on what libraries and librarians can do. This includes providing patrons with informational resources, and being involved in local task groups. He also touches on the controversial topic of libraries keeping the anti-overdose drug Narcan on hand. Check out the video description to see several links that Tom provided us, where you can learn even more.
And on the blog for OverDrive, they recently published an article titled How Librarians are helping to combat America’s Opioid Crisis. It provides several reading lists (of books available through OverDrive) that cover different aspects of the topic.
American Libraries, the official ALA publication, also wrote about this recently. Saving Lives in the Stacks highlights how the epidemic is affecting various libraries across the country.
Locally, libraries are getting involved too. The Central Library in Rochester recently hosted a community discussion about the crisis. And the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library has hosted several workshops from the Erie County Department of Health, on how to spot an overdose and the use of Narcan. There’s one coming up on September 12th.