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Director's Column

PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.

State Library Genealogy Collection

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, April 15, 2007

I was a 10-year-old boy when my mother took me with her to the State Library of Ohio.

 

She was searching for our family tree, before it was as popular as it is today.

 

At that time, the State Library was located at 65 S. Front St. in Columbus, an Art Deco building called, "The Ohio Departments Building."

 

The Library was on the 11th floor, and the Reading Room had long windows that extended floor to ceiling.

 

The librarian helped my mother get started on her search.

 

I was invited behind the desk to sit and look out the windows at the buildings of downtown Columbus.

 

The Genealogy Collection had slowly developed with time.

 

Researchers from across the nation planned trips to the State Library of Ohio to work on genealogy.

 

In 1998, all of the occupants of the building were forced to relocate, as the Ohio Supreme Court made plans to occupy the building as the new Ohio Judicial Center.

 

In 2001, the State Library relocated to 274 E. 1st Ave. north of the downtown.

 

The collections that had been scattered on different floors were brought together in the former manufacturing building.

 

The Genealogy Collection was "front and center" in the new space, serving the public.

 

The past six years have not been kind to state agencies; budget freezes and cuts have reduced staff and services.

 

A review of the State Library found that the Genealogy Collection would be better served at a new location within a new agency.

 

On April 25, the collection will reopen and be available for use at the Columbus Metropolitan Library's Main Library at 96 Grant Ave.

 

It becomes part of their Genealogy, History, and Travel Department, housed in the 1907 Carnegie Building.

 

The building was greatly expanded in 1991 and can accommodate the collection of 25,000 items from the State Library.

 

In addition, the new location has evening and weekend hours making the materials more accessible.

 

The collection emphasizes the importance of Ohio as the "Gateway to the West" and contains census materials, county records, cemetery books and military rosters.

 

Special collections include the Ohio Daughters of the American Revolution and Ohio Sons of the American Revolution, the Joy Wade Moulton British Collection, the Ohio Huguenot Society, and the Margaret Main Bouic Collection.

 

Russ Pollitt, Genealogy Subject Specialist at Columbus Metropolitan Library, will oversee the collection as it blends into its new home.