by Matt

Each day The Genealogy Center is fortunate enough to receive donations of all kinds to be added to our collection, but many of you might be curious about what happens to donations before they are available on the shelves for patrons to use.

Every item that is added to the collection is carefully analyzed to determine where it would be best placed and a corresponding call number is assigned. A record is then created in our catalog, which includes a description of the physical piece as well as prominent subjects and family names. These subject headings are what relate the books to one another and are incredibly useful in locating similar materials in our collection. Because this is the first step in the process, it is possible for a record to display in the catalog before the book is on the shelf. Once the record in the catalog, the book is then labeled with the assigned call number and with a unique bar code. At this point hardcover books are ready to go up to the shelves.
Donations that are unbound or softcover will need to be sent to the bindery to be bound in hardcover. All of the books in our collection are bound in hardcover to better preserve them for continued use. However, many materials need to have preservation steps taken before they can be bound. Books in poor condition, materials with variable sizes or items that contain acidic paper (usually newspaper clippings) are preservation photocopied on acid-free paper, and then the photocopies are sent to be bound. This step ensures that the piece is a standard size, and that the information contained is not lost due to wear from use or discoloration from acidic paper.

We are also fortunate to receive many manuscript collections that have been researched and compiled by researchers like you. Manuscript collections are the most time consuming materials that we handle, as they usually require a great deal of organization before they can be bound and placed on the shelves. Each manuscript is unique and must be organized in the most appropriate way according to the information that it contains. Once the lengthy organization and preservation process is completed, a catalog record is created and then the books are sent to be bound before being placed on the shelves.

Although the whole process can take quite a bit of time, our donations are a big part of what makes our collection special. We want to ensure that all of the books that go on our shelves are not only discoverable in the catalog, but also able to endure another generation of use.

If you have history, yearbooks, church directories, published genealogies, or personal research that you would like to donate to our collection, we would love to hear from you. Please send us an email.