Maira Liriano assists a lot of genealogists as assistant chief of the New York Public Library’s Irma and Paul Milstein Division of US and Local History and Genealogy. Her facility serves more than 60,000 patrons a year, about 75 percent of whom are doing family history. We asked her about the librarian’s side of the research equation.
Q. What is your favorite thing about working with us genealogists?
Q. What should we understand about librarians’ expertise in genealogy?
Q. How do your reference librarians deal with family history inquiries?
A. Everyone on our staff is trained to handle genealogical questions. But again, we’re not necessarily genealogists; we’re librarians. We help people get the most out of their experience here. We know how to use our collections, new databases and other online sources most effectively. We also know a lot about resources outside of this building and other repositories we can consult. Don’t overlook what we can help you with.
Q. How would you encourage a genealogist who is intimidated by your facility or staff?
A. If you can just walk in the door, we’ll do our best to make you feel at home. Other libraries feel the same way; it’s not just us. We’re here to make information and knowledge available for people—that’s why we exist. We exist for you. You have to believe that’s really true.
From the September 2009 Family Tree Magazine