17 April 2012

Ottawa Public Library on genealogy

The Board of Trustees of the Ottawa Public Library met on Monday with "Genealogy Services at OPL" as an educational item on the agenda.

Most agenda items were unrelated to genealogy. Board members were pleased to note a 5.65% increase in circulation for 2011 over 2012. Staff were questioned about the 3.5% drop in library database use and 20.2% drop in Arabic language materials circulation. The full report is at http://goo.gl/SA7bY

The staff presentation on "Genealogy Services at OPL" was given by Jane Venus, manager, lifelong learning and literacy. She gave details on the services provided, including that the libraries had 11,700 Ancestry Library Edition logons in the past year; it was their second most used database.

I was invited to pose some questions starting out by mentioning that I was there as an individual but had discussed comments with the leadership of the two largest Ottawa-based genealogical societies, The Ottawa Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society and the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa.

I expressed appreciation for the contribution the OPL makes to help people gain the benefits of learning about their roots and mentioned that local genealogical societies are open to a variety of cooperation for which there are models in other Ontario communities. I was assured that OPL was open to discussion on cooperative initiatives.

I asked specifically about possible cooperation to replace the OPL card index to birth, marriage and death announcements in the Ottawa Journal with an online version. The cards now occupy old card file cabinets in the Ottawa Room. Putting them online would free up the space taken up by those cabinets and expand the service city- and world-wide. OPL expressed interest in exploring a cooperative project further.

Finally I asked about materials in the Ottawa Room pointing out that these days if it can't be seen online it may as well not exist. Local genealogical and historical resources in the Ottawa Room are no exception. By digitizing selective material from the Ottawa Room, which is essentially operating as it did when founded in 1955, OPL could avoid its materials being destined to become a midden-heap of neglected books and documents. The response was that likely most of the Ottawa Room material would be still subject to copyright or other rights issues.



Anonymous said...

Thank you for attending this meeting to observe and advocate on our behalf. Anne S.

MelMcL said...

Thank you John for attending and adding your insight. I recently went on a research trip to Ottawa (from Guelph) for five days and made good use of the excellent resources at the Ottawa Branch. The card catalogue was very appreciated as many libraries do not have this resource. Had I been able to search the card catalogue (and other resources) from home, I would have been able to make even better use of my time whilst there. I would like to add that I had excellent service from the staff, although I was surprised that the Ottawa Room was not open during all regular library hours. I would have spent more time there if it had been open.