My shelf of reference books has disappeared. I guess I hoped it would follow me home when I retired from the library last month. It did not. Some other genealogy librarian will be intrigued by my choices. I need to rebuild the collection so I turned to Joy Reisinger for help. Her advice was right at hand, waiting. Here's what I learned from Joy.
Conveniently, Joy's sage advice is found on pages 63 to 82 in Professional Genealogy, A Manual for Researchers, Writers, Editors, Lecturers and Librarians, edited by Elizabeth Shown Mills and published in 2001 by Genealogical Publishing Company.
As I read this chapter I hear Joy telling me that my personal genealogy library is not so much a collection of materials in which I look up names, as it is a collection of materials from which I learn. She tells me my collection should be a balance of Instructional Works, General References and Source Materials.
Instructional Works: These are guides to methods, sources and genealogical principles.This might include things like The BCG Standards Manual; Tracing Your Ancestors in the Public Record Office; and Evidence! Citation and Analysis for the Family Historian. But it should alson include a scholarly journal or two. In my library its the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, an excellant source of case studies, and book reviews.
General Reference: Joy tell me this refers to atlases, gazetteers, dictionaries, legal codes etc. Here's a few from my bookshelf: The Handy Book of Parish Law published by the Wiltshire Family History society in 1995; my trusty friend, A Genealogical Gazetteer of England; and Fitzhugh's Dictionary of Genealogy: A Guide to British Ancestry Research.
Source Materials are of course all those books, CD.s microforms and source -oriented materials you accumulate in doing your own research– only expanded to cover what you need as a professional whether a teacher, lecturer or researcher.
Now here's your assignment. Review your own bookshelf. Sort the stuff into the three categories, and look for deficiencies. Perhaps in the first group you realize you need of the classics like Val Greenwood's Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy and in the second group you figure that you need some sort of legal reference tool to explain terms you enxcounter in early 19th century wills and contracts. You need a purchasing plan. I could go into detail here and now– but that for another time. If you are getting anxious, go check out Joy's chapter yourself.
Your comments are welcome. And tell me if you think there is a lecture topic here that others could benefit from!