Library Diva's Guide to Volunteering…

{April 20, 2011}   my odd little adopted family

I have an odd little family photo framed and tucked away in my office. I have photos of my kids (yes, the diva has divas), my love, my parents, my siblings, my friends, and my office mate (who has saved me from countless melt downs, so she deserves to be up there with those close to me) and this very odd, strange, family photo that you see here.

Who are they? Who cares! Surrounded by the real people in my life, they blend in. As people are asking and looking at my photos, they come to that one and really are speechless in that they don’t know what to say. I casually wave it off as it’s just Gramma Millie and move on with the discussion. During conversation, their eyes are drawn to the photo, because I treated it as if  everything was normal when in fact they are anything but normal!

Are they for real? What’s up with that little guy on the end? Isn’t that a freakishly large head on Gramma Millie? That darn ole’ Uncle Pete looks pretty angry…

My girlfriend came to my office one day to visit and she saw it and I told her the story of how I “found” that photo of my family in our Genealogy Room (when in fact it’s on a website called Awkward Family Photos) and framed it. She laughed and wanted a copy of it, so for her birthday I printed one for her, framed it and it now sits proudly on her desk next to her kids and husband for those to come in and ask about….and wonder…

I adore my odd little adopted family. I have no idea who they are, but they make me smile and they make things interesting for me and I like that too.


{December 1, 2009}   The Genealogist Volunteer

Our State History Room has the one of the top Genealogists in the state. She’s awesome and the staff that works there is knowledgable and very helpful. I’m not much into Genealogy, but I know that if I needed to find something, this is the place to go. Every so often, I have the pleasure of meeting some young men from Utah, Idaho or Montana. They are out on their Mission with the Latter Day Saints and want to do service in their community. After talking with them, it’s almost a no brainer that Genealogy is their thing.

As part of disaster planning and also to make research easier, we developed an access data base for obituary, birth, and marriage records. Volunteers would input index card information from newspapers into a data base and it would be searchable by several fields. It is a fun project and a constant project. Cards that don’t hold all the information would be researched by volunteers using the microfilm and the mysteries would be filled in.

A few years ago, I was introducing a volunteer to our staff in the History Room. She had done research before and knew her way around the department. A few days later, I had made her badge and I was standing by to check in with her to make sure she was comfortable and all was good to go. I patiently waited while our staff member helped two ladies who had found each other on the internet. One was from Florida and the other from Ohio. They each held important branches to their family trees and had found themselves at our library to help fill in the gaps. They had drawn a blank on the location of a cemetary. Our volunteer eagerly joined the conversation.

“I know where that cemetary is~” she said confidently, “I have family buried there too.”

The gal from Florida said “We’re looking for the Smyth family burial plot”.

I felt like I was watching a tennis match. Looking at the volunteer for response, her eyes were wide open and mouth agape…

“That’s my family…”

Papers began to fly, heads were bent over tables, fingers traced branches and names…and low and behold…they indeed were all from the same lineage! Our volunteer held yet another branch to their family tree…

Needless to say, she asked for some much-needed volunteer time off. The next day, they were all gathered at tables with ALL their research from three states all about, piled, earmarked, maps ~and there they were talking and laughing as if old friends that had never parted.

The past came together that day and created a great future for friends and family and all because some one had an interest in Genealogy and wanted to volunteer.

et cetera
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