Training for Reality: Librarians and Genealogists

Why don’t library schools train in family history/genealogy? It’s the same methodological thought processes, just more of them and more of the historical aspects. If librarians get requests for it regularly, then why in Hades not train for it? I hear in library school all the time about how librarians get requests for genealogical help or information and they seem incapable of answering the questions. Um, duh- teach the students how to deal with it. Make sure that they know something about what is there, beyond simply Ancestry.com, and have the librarians start working on their own family history as the assignment.

Nothing about family history matters until you try looking up your own family. The next thing you know, it’s the most fascinating stuff in the entire world. YOUR history, not someone else’s, exactly. Yes, it is training that helps a person with customer service skills in the ability to help others, and it’s the most addictive stuff on the planet. Instead of getting into crack, people needs family history training. The only people for whom it is boring are the people who have never tried it, or more accurately, the people who never found anything. One hit, and you’re hooked. Maybe it would be better likened to LSD. Never having taken drugs, I really don’t know what the proper analogy would be for this, but instead of getting depressed over the ineptitude and vicissitudes that accompany familial rejection, despair, loneliness, or otherwise some combination of vices that really helps no one, go to the library and find someone who has some good training in a topic that is the main crux of the problem.

A feeling of the sense of self that completes a person enough to get them away from depression or the things meant to lift it comes from knowing where you come from, coming to grips with it, and dealing. (I am no psychologist, and not a professional in that regard at all. I have nothing against anyone who needs medication or similar things whatsoever.) It takes a lot of strength to see that your family is not perfect, and even (heaven forbid!) sharing it with the relatives involved.

I saw the cover of a book last year that showed a librarian looking like Superman, but a girl. Train librarians in what the people need, and then no one will ask whether or not libraries are worth the funding necessary to keep them open!

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One thought on “Training for Reality: Librarians and Genealogists

  1. I’m a retired librarian and I agree with you. I was the go to person for genealogy in the libraries I worked because it was my hobby. It was a relief to the rest of the librarians because they didn’t have to deal with genealogy questions. They seem to resent patrons who ask genealogy questions.

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