Friday, November 18, 2011

Library Lock-in Comes to Town!

I’m very late in reporting the wonderful event held on Friday, October 28:  Harford County Public Library (HCPL) held its first Genealogy Lock-In, and what a great night it was!

For this lock-in trial run, the library invited only the members of its Genealogy Discussion Group (GDG).  The doors closed to the public at 5 p.m., with the library prepared for the GDG to lay claim to its holdings until 11 p.m. 

For six awesome hours, the Group had the library entirely to itself, to research, read, socialize, nosh and more.   I must admit, due to a heavy schedule the next day, I bailed out at 9 p.m.  I'm aging, I know...

GDG member Deb Ruth, over at Adventures in Genealogy suggested the lock-in.  Always known for her good ideas, Deb is up on the latest in the genealogy blogosphere as well as activities, commentary and tips from around the country. 

When she brought this idea to the group, folks responded positively and immediately that this was something everyone wanted to try.  GDG member and HCPL librarian extraordinaire Ann Winkler organized everything to a “T.” 

About 15 or so regulars from the Genealogy Discussion Group attended.  Everyone came with their booklets and binders of paperwork, prepared to do research, solve family history riddles and extend the family tree. 

Everyone knows that genealogists are generous by their very nature; they just can’t wait to share their latest find.   This event was no exception; it was definitely “share and share alike!”

Research heaven!
Group members with subscriptions to paid sites like Fold3,,, Genealogy Bank and others offered their accounts to be used for the entire evening.  Ann prepared sign-in sheets in 30-45 minute time slots.  Everything flowed seamlessly: sign in for a time slot, do your research, move on to the next paid website.  Each computer was marked with a sign naming its subscription site.  If a website proved a bit of a struggle, Ann was there to assist. 

Not an empty seat in the house!

The HCPL’s computers were also available, with sites that included AncestryLE (Library Edition), ProQuest Historical Newspapers,, and much more.  Every service that's regularly available during library hours was available.  Talk about research heaven!

Binding Machine with
bound book.

In addition to all this research going on, member Barbara Jones shared her collection of organizational techniques, and donated their use for the evening.  They included a desktop scanner, a laminating machine, and a punch and bind machine, which turns regular paper into a bound book.   I saw at least one very happy person use the binding machine to turn her years of family research into a book! 

Dinner time!
As if all this research, filing and organizing wasn't enough, we had a smorgasbord of delights.  Everyone contributed to the buffet of pizza, chili, salads, a variety of desserts, chocolates and beverages. 

Library lock-ins have been going on around the country for a few years now, from Texas to Michigan to Massachusetts, and everywhere in between. 

Even for those in our group who couldn’t make it to the Lock-In, the decision is unanimous…yes, we should do this again!   

Mention this event to your favorite librarian, and a genealogy library lock-in could be coming to a town near you!


  1. Ever since I read about a library lock-in sponsored by the local genealogy society in one of the Texas counties I research, I've wanted to go to one. And it sounds as though there were a lot of bonuses at the one you have written about - great food and the scanner and binder! My idea of a perfect evening.

  2. This is such an awesome idea! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Great post Jenny! Thanks for the shout-out, you make me blush!

    I'm so glad everyone had a great time and hopefully learned something new along the way.

    Keeping my eye out for new stuff...


  4. Thanks for the article Jenny and for mentioning my name. It was a great night! The extended hours allowed me to be tutored by Carol S. on how to search land records on the MSA's website where together we found my great grandfather's house in Essex in 1922. What a great big find! In return, I showed Carol S. how to make a virtual cemetery on the Find A website.

    Many thanks to Deb for the idea and all who attended and made contributions.

    Let's do it again soon!
    Barbara Jones