As I write this I’m finishing up my research trip to the Allen County Public Library (ACPL). Last year I wrote about the Genealogy Center at ACPL and everything it has to offer researchers. This year I returned to continue my research.
For some of the researchers here, this is the first time they have used a library for genealogy research. I imagine that can be intimidating. A new researcher has to consider what their research question is, what they want to find, and what to bring. When I research away from home, I have a bag that has, what are for me, “research essentials.”
What’s In My Research Bag?
Everyone is different, that’s a given. So it makes sense that some research “essentials” will be the same for most genealogists and others are more personal preferences. One thing to consider about your research bag is weight. What I take is influenced by what I can comfortably carry, especially if I have to walk a few blocks to the library. You may have some mobility issues that make a roller bag a better option.
What are My Research Essentials?
For me they include:
- Cell phone
- Flash drive
- Blank notebook (or two)
- Pens, pencils, highlighters
- Post-it notes or post-it tabs
- Snack (remember you can’t eat in the library)
- Cough drop
- Face mask (some libraries or repositories may require it)
What you want to pack may differ. To me, these are all essentials. Notice I didn’t discuss your genealogy research materials like charts or reports. It’s easier if you have your research in a software program on your computer or an online tree so that you can refer to it. A mobile app with an online tree makes it easier to take your research wherever you go.
You need to think not just about research but also about what you need to be comfortable. And speaking of comfort, I always bring a sweater with me because it’s not uncommon for the library to be a little colder than you want. And nothing makes a research trip more miserable than being cold.
So once you consider what to take, make sure that you also consider what NOT to take. My suggestions include:
- Any drink that is not water
- Your original documents/records
- Anything you absolutely don’t need
Once again, that list will be different for you and your research needs.
Ready to Research?
Researching away from home requires being prepared. Part of that preparation is your research question and plan but you also need to prepare for your time in the library. Start putting together a research bag now so that you’re ready to research when given the opportunity.