Anyone with an interest in tracing their family roots knows that the most significant family history database in the world is located in Salt Lake City, Utah at the Family History Library. The library was founded in 1894 by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to assist their church members in gathering information about their families. It has become the largest library of its kind in the world, and now information from that library is just a keystroke away.
"This is really phenomenal," says Keller Public Library's director, Pam Trammell, who requested the local library become an Affiliate Library Program for the circulation of microfilms available from the Salt Lake City facility.
"Until now," Trammell explains, "the closest facility to link to the Family Search in Utah was located at a church in Cape Girardeau, but it was only available for a few hours during the week, and that required a 100-mile round trip drive. Oftentimes people would make that drive only to find that several had come to use the system, and there is only a narrow window period that it's available, so they would drive home empty handed."
There are other affiliates across Missouri, but they are usually in the homes of church members without any method to copy the materials that might be located on the Utah-based website.
All that has changed for those seeking out their family history in Southeast Missouri. With the local library becoming an affiliate, anyone may now link into the Family History Library to attain information.
Trammell is quick to credit the Stoddard County Genealogy Society with looking into the option before approaching her to make application to Utah in December. The process took only a few weeks and the link is now up and running.
Becoming an affiliate cost the local library nothing. A user simply logs on to the Family Search website and chooses the Keller Library as an affiliate to access the Family History database. When the user locates their pertinent information, an order for that information on microfilm may be placed for a fee of $7.50 which is paid online through the user's credit or debit card. That fee is good for a 90-day rental. Patrons also have the option of paying a fee of $18 to keep the microfilm 180 days.
"The library is not responsible for the payment," explains Lynda Stewart, a dedicated member of the Stoddard County Genealogy Society which meets regularly at the library. "The payment is made directly online by the user using their own credit or debit card information."
"We are really excited about this," Stewart says. "It's going to make a big difference for genealogy research, not only for people in Dexter, but all over Southeast Missouri."
Keller Library's Genealogy Dept. is arguably one of the best in Stoddard County. A look at the department's sign-in book reveals that guests come from all over the country to access material available only at the Dexter location. The designation as an Affiliate Library through the Salt Lake City archives will only serve to boost the library's already notable reputation as an excellent genealogy resource.
"We have two microfilm readers and a state-of-the-art printer of microfilm," Trammel confirms. "And you do not have to be a library card holder to use these resources. Anyone is welcome to work on researching their family history at the library."
"With our microfilm reader, they can pull up the document and store it electronically to their flash drive or print a hard copy of the document, or even e-mail it," Trammell explained. "A patron can even do this from home, but all microfilm is mailed directly to the library for viewing, and it does not leave the library."
Stewart says the process of accessing the Family History Library is "user friendly."
"You do have to register, but that process is free," Stewart says. "In the registration process, users will be asked to choose an affiliate library and that is where they'll click on the link the Keller Library option," she explains.
Workshop Feb. 9
The Genealogy Society will be hosting a free instructional workshop on the newly acquired tool on Saturday, Feb. 9 at 10 a.m. in the Community Room at Keller Library. The workshop will include lessons on how to set up an account with the Family History Library, how to order microfilm, how to pay for that service, and how to access information from the website.
"We'd like for people to pre-register so that we have an idea of how many we'll have," Stewart notes. To register, call Keller Library at 573-624-3764.