Get FREE Online Library Access for Genealogy & Family History Research

Stuck at home during the COVID-19 pandemic AND you need to access a library? With a library card you can access genealogy records, research databases and more!

Look what you can access – for FREE – from your library for your genealogy research!

Stuck at home during the COVID-19 pandemic AND you need to access a library?
With a library card you can access genealogy records, research databases and more!

How to Access Library Resources at Home

Many local public libraries offer access to their resources online and from your home. What do you need to get started?

  • Get a public library card. While many libraries are closed to the public during the COVID-19 crisis and stay at home restrictions, staff may still be working from home answering queries online and via telephone. Contact your library and request a library card which can often be sent to you digitally via e-mail.
  • If you have a library card, login at the library website. Visit your public library’s website and search for online resources or check the Help menu. Locate a way to login using your card information. You may need to register and set up an account, then login. Also look closely at your library card – front and back – for any login information.

Online Databases

One of the biggest benefits of having a public library card is access to a variety of databases and records online and from your home or office. These include the library editions of Ancestry, Findmypast, Fold3, MyHeritage, Newspapers.com and more.

Normally, you might be required to access certain databases only from the actual library, an example being Ancestry Library Edition. However due to recent COVID-19 restrictions, many libraries and companies allow access from home. If after you login at your local public library website and you don’t see a database you need, call or email the library staff. Request that they consider adding specific databases via subscription – check the Resource List below for information on specific databases. Or if the library restricts access to in-person only, ask that they allow at home access.

Free E-Books and Digital Books

Besides library access, many books used for genealogy & family history research are available in e-book format. Access digital libraries such as FamilySearch Digital Library, Google Books, Hathi Trust, Internet Archive Texts, Internet Public Library, and Open Library, listed in the Resources List below.

Don’t Forget State Online Library Resources!

Did you know that most states have a set of online databases, some available only to their residents? And that you can access many of these databases from home? Not every state provides this type of service, but if your state is listed below, check it out and see what you can find to help your genealogy research! And even if you aren’t a resident of that state, you’ll still find interesting and useful research information!

Tips and Tricks for Online Library Access

Use these techniques leveraged by savvy genealogists to get the most out of online library resources.

  • Remember logins are location based! While many libraries may require a login and password, you may have to enter your zip code for full access. In addition, some libraries or databases – such as the State Online Library Resources above – will use your computer’s IP address to verify location.
  • Seek out all databases! Besides genealogy-related databases be sure to review the ENTIRE catalog of databases available. Many academic research databases such as Gale, JSTOR, and SAGE Journals and more are available. Here you’ll find academic research articles that can help you find social history information about how your ancestors lived and worked.
  • Don’t forget private libraries too! Besides public libraries, many towns and cities have private libraries which are open to the public, often for free. These libraries also have online access to databases and resources. One example is The Newberry Library in Chicago.
  • Try college and university libraries. Often, if you live in a town or city with a college or university, you may be able to access their online resources. Contact the library and ask if they offer a library card for local residents.
  • Understand Licensing Issues for Online Databases. Due to licensing restrictions which are often negotiated for each record set, you may not be able to fully access the information you need. Check the terms and conditions of the database use on the library website.

Resources

Here are some resources for getting most out of online digital libraries!

Download Genealogy & Online Library Access!

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Stuck at home during the COVID-19 pandemic AND you need to access a library? With a library card you can access genealogy records, research databases and more!

©2020, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Thomas MacEntee
Genealogy educator and author Thomas MacEntee has been researching his family history for more than 40 years and is the creator of Abundant Genealogy, Genealogy Bargains, DNA Bargains, The Genealogy Do-Over and numerous other web-based genealogy and family history properties.