In these library collections, family history speaks volumes. Check out their roots riches in our roundup of the top 10 public libraries for genealogists.
Family history probably wasn't on Andrew Carnegie's mind when he championed the creation of public libraries. But today, the local library system he helped create provides the means for millions of people to trace their family trees. Many public libraries now have dedicated genealogy or local history collections, making them an essential destination for every roots researcher. There you'll find not only books, but also rare manuscripts, genealogical journals, census records and CD-ROMs, all full of valuable information you won't find on the Internet.
Some of those local libraries have gone above and beyond to develop incredible family history collections that draw genealogists from well outside their neighborhoods. The Allen County Public Library's genealogy collection has garnered a national reputation and attracts more than 100,000 researchers from across the country each year. But which other public libraries should you try hardest to work into your travel plans? (Of course, you don't need to go there in person to take advantage of these research treasure troves — see the box on page 28 and the "Services" section for each library here.) In an effort to identify the 10 best public libraries for genealogists, we weighed these factors: