How familiar really are genealogists with the wealth of materials available on the Internet Archive (IA)? Since RootsTech, I’ve seen more discussion and awareness than I’d seen before then as the IA’s founder, Brewster Kahle was a keynote speaker, but the site is still, in my opinion, vastly under-appreciated. I’ve been using IA extensively for several years now and only continue to be amazed by the books that are added on an ongoing basis.
As a user, I faced a big challenge though – how was I going to keep up with all the books! What if I saw a book/item that I wanted to be sure I did not lose sight? In the past I’ve used bookmarks, spreadsheets, and other conventions, but was never truly happy. I wanted to be able to share what I was finding, promote the material, and try to get it in the eyes of people who could really use it. Unfortunately, the native IA and Open Library interfaces don’t make it the easiest to find resources by geographic location nor formats (two key considerations for genealogists), as their keyword & subject terminology is not standardized.
So, using my favorite content management system, WordPress, I started my Genealogy Digital Bookshelf (GDB) website. I formally made it in December, but over the past few months have been tweaking it & debating with myself if others would find it useful. But you know what? I find it useful, so I’m sure someone else will! I set up one for the NCGenWeb Project, the NC Digital Bookshelf, exactly a year ago and that has been well-received. Thus, the GDB does not have NC materials, but you’ll find items relevant to other states.
Books are organized by format first, then by geographic location and added as I have time to do. I started monitoring additions to the site in late 2009, so most books will have been added since then. I am a big fan of the FamilySearch Research Wiki so will add links to books I find at IA to the appropriate wiki page too, but I find value in the grouping by format that I’ve established so will do both as I can. Let me know what you think of the site!
P.S. I have to say that I was inspired by several others in the geneasphere. I rely on each of them to help me locate pertinent materials!
- Jennifer’s GooBooGeni site on which she categorizes books found at Google
- Joe Beine’s DeathIndexes site – love the simple navigation he offers
- Miriam’s Online Historical Directories & Online Historical Newspaper sites