A library carries different resources than a archives or even an online database for that matter. Most people who have gone out to the local library have been pleasantly surprised by what they have found there. If you do not live close enough to visit the library in your ancestor's hometown, search their online catalog and digital collections online. E-mail them to find out the resources they have in their local history department that may identify your ancestor.
Local history librarians are receiving many requests for help with family history research. Be courteous of their time, and be generous with paying requested fees. Create a timeline of your ancestor's life for easy reference because a timeline will make research easier for you to find resources and make it easier for the person assisting you.
Resources You May Stumble Upon
I have been using the library for finding clues in my family history from the beginning. I love going through the city directories and finding the ones that are not on Ancestry.com. I get excited when I browse through the collections of newspapers on site and find some that are not online.
The yearbooks that are available in the library are great treasures. I even was able to discover that I could contact the local high school to find discover more.
The local history books that are available in the local library are often great resources for cemeteries that are no longer in existence. Most history books also give you an idea who lived in the area, and those who moved into the area from other places.
I especially like the vertical files that are replete with newspaper articles, unpublished papers, brochures, and all kinds of things on interesting places and people who made their homes nearby. I have just dug into the vertical files, and I have not gone away empty handed. Once I found a library that had so many vertical files. I was able to discover where a family located further South.
Investigate Before Making a Trip Far Away
Here is a library up North in Joliet, Will County, Illinois, the Joliet Public Library. I was facinated by what I discovered on the second floor that day. You can follow along to see the resources I focused on Hunting for Treasures at the Library.
If you need to travel to get to know the library in the town where your ancestors lived, find out what they have to offer ahead of time. Talk to whoever the genealogy or local history expert is at the library. You can find online catalogs and research or genealogy sections on their websites. You can also search for other libraries nearby. Even planning you trip around their local genealogy society meeting is also smart to do.