As you visit The Genealogy Center in the coming weeks, you may notice a bit of unusual activity, especially in the Microtext Reading Room. When we reopened our expanded and renovated building in 2007, we had a large space devoted to using our extensive microtext collection—a collection that included census and military records, newspapers, city directories, and documents from many states and countries. However, digital copies of these important documents continue to grow exponentially in use.  Microtext usage, on the other hand, continues to diminish greatly.

What has grown in the last decade is our dedication to expand service to include more classes and consultations, as well as meeting our customers’ desires to collaborate with us and one another. In response, we are repurposing more than half of the former Microtext Reading Room into our new Discovery Center, a space for presentations, panel discussions, group activities, pop-up demonstrations, collaborative dialog, and one-on-one consultations.

We also have become increasingly aware that in this digital age, people’s stories are slipping away. Email and texting have replaced written correspondence between friends and family members so much so that information that had been preserved in the past on paper is now being lost. Headliners and other “big” stories get preserved in other forms, but the day-to-day lives of firemen, teachers, industrial workers, veterans, emigrants, attorneys and the histories of communities, churches, businesses and ethnic groups get lost in the shuffle. To preserve and present these every-day stories, we are repurposing our former Orientation Area into a Life Stories Center. We want to better facilitate the preservation of everyone’s experiences, memories, and life stories.

While all of this activity is occurring, we hope that you will tolerate the small inconveniences caused by a limited amount of noise and some dust. We are looking forward to the great possibilities that our new spaces will bring. Thank you for your understanding.