Thursday, July 16, 2015

Connectiut State Library

Connecticut State Library
231 Capitol Ave
Hartford, T 06106

On our New England trip we got to go to this library for a short time. Although by the time we got there one afternoon, it was late and we didn’t have much time, it was well worth it. We now know a bit about the library and will be ready to hit the ground running when we get another chance to visit here. It is located in downtown Hartford, just across the way from the capital building. Like the capital, it is built in a classical style and has steps at the front of the building that look as though they climb for about a mile. Especially if you’re challenged by stairs, like me, don’t arrive at the top gasping for breath. Here’s a hint, walk around to the back! There’s an entrance on that side that is on ground level. The stairs enter on the second floor, and after you go through the metal detector at security, you’ll enter the legal portion of the library and have to return to the first floor anyway.

The library is open Tuesday-Friday: 9am-5pm and Saturday: 9am-2pm. During the week you might want to leave a little before closing or find a place to hang out for a while after it closes. At least if you’re like us and not used to rush hour in a large city, because you will be definitely heading out into it!

Printing from the computers requires a Vendacard. Photocopying can be done with the Vendacard or coin. Either one cost 15 cents.  A Vendacard (much like a plastic credit card) costs one dollar and contains 70 cents worth of copies on it initially. These can be refilled in various dollar increments. Microfilm and fiche printing is 25 cents, but only 20 cents if you use the card. You can also scan items and either email them to somebody (like yourself!) or put them on a thumbdrive. There is more details about this on their website.

This library of course, has records for all over the state of Connecticut. Books, microfilms, vertical files and much more. There’s a special collections/ archives within the library with rare items as well. The archives has limited access, but everything else you are completely free to browse through. At one point, I had completed the question I was working on as far as I could, so instead of going to the next one, I got up and took a walk. I walked out into “the stacks”, the area which is just shelf after shelf filled with books. I wandered up and down the aisles in the stacks for a few minutes just randomly looking at titles and picking one or two off the shelf on occasion. In doing so, I found one completely at random that had information about a family of mine that I hadn’t thought to research.

Have you ever worked with the Barbour collection? It is an index of vital records from across the state up to about 1850 collected under the direction of Lucius Barnes Barbour, State Examiner of Public Records from 1911-1934. If you have, then you know what a treasure these records are! They are available on microfilm and in book form many places throughout the country. But did you know that the original slips of paper with transcriptions from the records that were used to create this index still exist? In a hallway behind the reference desk, you will find many card catalog drawers and some house this original that you can actually see and touch! There are over a million slips filed alphabetically and then chronologically here.

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