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Take Your Books With You

Take Your Books With You

I have a copy of Evidence Explained  which I bought when it came out in pdf. I have it on my computer for instant reference. I have copies of various other publications, either purchased, free online or that I bought and then scanned. It IS handy to have some of these reference books at your fingertips.

Have you thought about one of those reading devices that allows you read a book without a book? Most allow you to download a book instantly. Say you are researching at a library and realize you really need the census guide you saw at [chose your favorite retailer]. With one of these devices you can get it right now. The device may also read pdf and other formats that you may already own.

Those devices are nice but they are also pricey and are just one more piece of equipment to carry around.

Did you know you can download the app for those devices to your computer, laptop, netbook, iPad, even your smartphone? Did I mention the apps are all free? You could download them ALL to your laptop. Whether you chose one or all you can have the books – and access to more – but save money by using equipment you already have.

What devices you can use them with and what they can do varies as do the procedures and requirements. You can generally share between devices. With Amazon’s Kindle, for example, you can read the book on your netbook at the library, make notes, then pick up where you left off – including the notes – at home on your desktop, then on your smartphone later.

Here are links to the three most popular readers. 

Barnes and Noble

Books – Will It Happen?

Books – Will It Happen?

Going Digital 2

I had to remove all the books in my office so new carpet could be installed. It was a back breaking task that took several days. Along the way I noted, despite several moves and heavy handed weeding out, there were still books I don’t need. I made piles of them. Now as I place the books back into the bookcases I am attempting to sort by subject and do further weeding. Since my dogs do not object to the disarray I can afford to take my time going through the books. Unfortunately I have a list of books I still want to purchase…

Books undoubtedly take up the most space of all my “necessary” paper. Obviously I have a computer which can play audio files including books and podcasts as well read many file formats. I also have Palm LifeDrive which can play audio books in several formats as well as read files in four or five formats — making the available library of books and articles portable. There are many other devices that do that including some cell phones.

Several years ago through a promotion I got a copy of Val Greenwood’s Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy in pdf, all 660 pages in the palm of my hand. A friend read parts of her copy on a plane during a long flight. I’ve read a bit while waiting in a doctor’s office but, frankly, I don’t like reading on a 2 1/2″ by 3 1/2″ screen all that much – and that’s a larger than normal screen. Recently I purchased a 22″ monitor for my laptop. That’s more like it.

This year I purchased Elizabeth Shown Mills’ Evidence Explained in pdf. I confess, it is still no joy to read on the LifeDrive but it is incredibly handy to have that book with me while researching. And it is word searchable. Next June I am taking her course at IGHR so, after I registered, I bought the book too. In that scenario it is probably easier to have the book.

A couple years ago, as a project for a genealogy society, I tore apart some reprints they had made of old public domain books, ran them through a high speed scanner at a law office in Chicago, converted the output to pdf and made it word searchable. [This now doable in one step.] The final document was burnt to CD. The society now sells the CDs and doesn’t waste space or money storing books to sell. They can literally print a book on demand. Digital books are attractive to sellers because they don’t represent an investment in storage space or paper.

There are many already digitalized books online, often free to download, of interest to researchers. Google Books is a treasure chest of such books. And the word searchable benefit is hard to top.

Having the digital book — and you can easily keep the whole book, not just a few pages — on your computer means you never having to kick yourself for not looking up one more thing when you had the book in your hands 10 years ago.

Until your library is digital list your books on LibraryThing so you know what you have. I’m using a printout of my LibraryThing books to make sure I have all my genealogy books together as I put the office back together. Unfortunately, despite my best efforts, I still have more books than space in the bookcase assigned to genealogy.



Ever buy a book while at an event or traveling only to find you already had a copy when you got home?

I attended IGHR [Institute of Genealogy & Historical Research] at Samford. I’ve been a member of Librarything for awhile but I’ve never really used it. Amy Giroux, CG, CGL, suggested using it to list your genealogy library. It is stored online and available to you from any computer so you can’t forget it. If you are organized you can print out a list of your books before you go. If you aren’t you can still print out a list when you get there.

It’s free for the first 200 books. If you want to catalog your entire collection you can get an annual membership for $10 or a life membership for $25. You can make your catalog private or public. If it saves you buying one duplicate it is probably worth for that alone.

This is my genealogy library, at least what I have entered so far. I haven’t done the local histories or surname books.

Of course, you are not limited to genealogy or any one subject. And there are other uses for the list — for your insurance should something happen to your collection like fire, flood, tornado, hurricane for example.

I see another use for the catalogs. Perhaps you simply cannot find the book you need, particularly one of those local histories or a long out of print book. Maybe you can go Librarything, see who has the book and, very nicely, ask if they would mind looking it up for you in their copy.