I have to admit that I believe genealogists are their own worst enemies. I believe this because of the digitization revolution we find ourselves in.
Revolution is the right word here, as we are rebelling against the printed word that has been the mainstay of genealogy for centuries. We are rebelling by running around scanning everything possible and putting those scans online for everyone to use.
Now I’m as guilty as anyone and more than most for doing this exact thing. I never thought of this as a problem until recently, when it occurred to me that most of the research I do anymore in on the Net. And most of the folks I talk to do the same thing. Not a problem, you say?
When is the last time you visited a genealogy library or an archive in person? When is the last time any of your cohorts did either? Still don’t see a problem?
Well, think about this: Libraries and archives cost some big bucks, and those bucks come mostly from tax money from somebody. Buildings need heating and cooling; they need maintenance; they need staffing by paid professionals.
Presidents and governors and legislators have a finite amount of tax money to go around, and don’t you think they have multiple places to put that money? Don’t you think they count library and archive patrons? Don’t you think they compare votes and causes?
If you don’t think our favorite physical research facilities are under pressure, take note of the locations that have closed, downsized, and consolidated in recent years. Take a look online at the current situation in Arizona and think back to the recent Indiana effort to close the State Library collection.
So, in light of all this, the next time you are too tired or too busy to visit your local genealogy facility, think again. If your genealogy library patronage is dropping like a rock, you can expect their hours and funding and staffing will also drop by the same rock.
So, please, think long-term and think strategically: Visit Your Library!!