1. Understand what’s in demand.
2. Create a book worth sharing.
- Cite your sources. Whenever you present information not commonly known, give enough information about where you found it that others can find it, too. You’ll find guidance for this in the October/November 2012 Family Tree Magazine and the Family Tree University Source Documentation 101 course.
- Include important surnames and locations in the book title, such as The Smythes of Arkansas and Allied Families Jones and Parker.
- Insert a formal title page with the full title, author, publication date and location, and publisher, if applicable.
- Include a table of contents, an index and page numbers. Word processing programs can help you create these.
3. Consider copyright issues.
Larger libraries may ask for permission to duplicate your book online, likely for eventual digital sharing. In many cases, you can grant this without giving up your copyright (or legal ownership). Reputable libraries aren’t out to steal your work—they just want to share it with as many readers as possible. You don’t have to give permission, of course: You can just provide a single copy and call it good. A comfortable compromise might be to donate two (or more) copies to a facility such as the Mid-Continent Public Library, which will keep one reference copy on site and circulate duplicates through interlibrary loan. That way, any researcher who has access to interlibrary loan will have access to your work.
4. Find a fitting library.
As you’re looking for appropriate libraries, keep these factors in mind:
- Not all genealogical and historical societies have libraries.
- A library collects books. An archive collects original manuscripts and documents. Sometimes a repository is one or the other, and sometimes it’s both.
- Large libraries, especially those at universities, might have special collections on ethnic, religious, cultural or historical topics.
- Public libraries may have local history and genealogy sections, especially if a genealogical society meets there.
- Many specialized libraries have “acquisition priorities,” or topics of greatest interest. Check their websites. For example, The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives <www.americanjewisharchives.org> focuses on Reform Judaism and Cincinnati Jewry.
Let’s say you write a book on your family’s Norwegian settlers in Muskego, Wis. Who would want it? Look for libraries interested in Wisconsin (especially the Muskego area), Norwegian-Americans, and the region of origin within Norway. Your list might include the Wisconsin Historical Society (which has more than 40,000 compiled genealogies), the Norwegian-American Genealogical Association, the Norwegian American Genealogical Center and Naeseth Library, the Waukesha County Historical Society Research Center, and the collection of the appropriate bygdelag (a Norwegian county association; find these listed at www.fellesraad.com).
5. Offer your book.
The Milstein Division of US History, Local History and Genealogy at the New York Public Library accepts bound volumes and typescripts, but no electronic formats at all.