My father passed away about a year and a half ago. Losing a parent really leaves an emptiness in part of your heart, and it also diminishes your family’s collective memory. How long will I hold onto the stories he shared with me about growing up on Chicago’s northwest side, the traditions of his Polish upbringing, and family members I never had the opportunity to meet?
How complete is your family tree? Are you in a situation where you know little or nothing about the ancestors who came before you? Is there a long-held family secret or mystery you’d really love to solve while there is time?
The Barrington Area Library has some serious researchers on our staff, and they would be delighted to help you dig into your family’s history. We’re offering a new adventure this spring called Journeys in Genealogy. It’s the perfect opportunity for you to get some expert help with your genealogy – and be a little bit of a media superstar, too…(there’s more to this than research, let’s just say!)
What we’d like to do is capture the process of you leaping over your family history roadblocks – on camera. We’re big fans of programs like Antiques Roadshow and American Pickers, which reveal just how much fun it can be to explore the past. We can’t appraise your antiques or clean out your storage shed, but we can possibly shed light on your ancestry and create some real “aha!” moments…
One of our research experts here is long-time Adult Services Librarian Kate Mills. Kate has worked at the Barrington Area Library for almost 28 years, so she knows an awful lot about Barrington, and is a helpful, respected colleague here and in the library community.
I asked Kate about her experience in assisting people with genealogy research. “It’s the thrill of the chase, solving the puzzle, doing the research, etc. Being a reference librarian, I’m passionate about helping people on a quest, no matter the topic. People have a deep, personal interest in learning more about their families, so that makes this type of research particularly rewarding.”
I also asked if she had done any genealogy research about her own family, and she had quite a story to share. “My great uncle was a gangster in the 20s and was gunned down in front of his house. That was an eye-opener! Big news in the Chicago Tribune at the time. Nobody in the family talked about it, but I pieced it together from my mom talking about her Aunt Etta and her house at 1110 West Garfield, which is where it happened. That lead me to the historical Trib database and – voilà!”
People tend to think of librarians in terms of a love for books, but for librarians like Kate and myself, that thrill of the search and finding an elusive answer is one of our strongest defining qualities.
Kate will be working on Journeys in Genealogy with one of our newer staff members, Library Assistant Ashley Brooke Sero. Ashley has a talent for video production, and she’ll helping to capture your search on camera so we can share it with the community. Your family stories may not be as dramatic as Kate’s, but they can build a bridge between past and present that makes everyday experiences more meaningful. A few weeks ago, I met a recently retired library employee for lunch at The Bread Basket. When she told me her own parents used to meet there after a day of classes at Barrington High School – and her father is now in his 80s! – that was a real “Wow” Barrington story for me.
Ready to head off on your own Journey in Genealogy? Fill out the online form to apply. We have just two qualifications: you must have a valid Barrington Area Library card, and you must be willing to share your story on camera (we’ll make it painless, we promise). We’re offering this special opportunity now through May 30, 2014.
Here’s an added incentive – if you participate in the program after reading this post, tell us, “I saw it on 365 Barrington” and we’ll feature your video in one of our upcoming Books & Beyond posts!
Camera-shy, or just prefer to keep your family information more private? No problem. Our Adult reference staff is always happy to help. You can email us to set up a personal appointment for genealogical or other kinds of research. We also have great online resources where you can start your search yourself. All of the online resources are accessible from home with your Barrington Area Library card, except for Ancestry.com, which must be used at the library.
Family memories are precious pieces in the puzzle of our lives – make sure you hold onto them so you can pass them along to the generations to come. We look forward to helping you on your Journeys in Genealogy at the Barrington Area Library.
About the Author
Karen McBride is the Public Information Manager for the Barrington Area Library.
If she’s reading, it’s a glossy magazine or a rock star biography, but she’s just as likely to be walking in Cuba Marsh or on her treadmill, cheering on her beloved Bulls, or wasting time on Facebook.
To follow Karen’s library updates on Facebook, visit their page at Facebook.com/BALibrary and CLICK HERE to find all of the post published in the Barrington Area Library’s regular Books & Beyond series right here at 365Barrington.com.