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New and improved history and genealogy center

By Olivia Fledderman, Contributor

With the recent addition and renovation to the Brookville Library came a larger and more user-friendly history and genealogy center.

Previously, the history and genealogy center consisted of a small room at the back of the hallway in the children's department. However, the recent addition allowed the history and genealogy center to expand, and it now consists of the entire area that was previously the children's department.

The new history and genealogy center is divided into two main sections. One side of the room is dedicated solely to the counties surrounding Franklin County, including those in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. The other side of the room focuses on Indiana history, which includes many books that reference Franklin County.

The room that was previously the history and genealogy department will now be the archives room. The room is climate controlled, and humidity can also be controlled, which will make it ideal for proper preservation and care of the early records, photos, and documents that will be kept inside the room. However, this room will remain locked and individuals will need to set up an appointment with the department in order to access the materials in the room.

Along with the expansion of the department, there are also two special rooms, which are currently in the process of being prepared. One of which will be the Ed Baker Civil War Study Room, and the other will be a Special Collections Study Room. Both rooms will hopefully be open for public use by April of 2019.

Ed Baker was a Franklin County native and a United States veteran. Following his passing, his family donated his historical collection to the library's history and genealogy center, and it will be showcased in the room dedicated to him.

The Special Collections Study Room will consist of a compilation of information from previous research done by a few well-known individuals. For instance, Betty Pflum's research of St. Michael Cemetery and veterans of the area will be available in this room. Also, Lorraine Galle's research of the Highland Township area, the Huber Farm, and cemeteries in the area will also be included in the Special Collections Study Room. Don Dunaway's work, along with information that has been gathered about the Poor Farm, will also add to the abundance of history that one could find in this new room.

Julie Schlesselman, the Local History and Genealogy Department manager at the library, noted that county residents have been showing more of an interest in the history and genealogy department now that it has expanded.

“Many people were intimidated by the small area, but now it is more user friendly,” Schlesselman said.

Schlesselman also explained that the department is currently working on a few projects she believes will draw more residents' interest. Those projects include two books, one of which is titled “Lost Franklin County,” and will document in photos the buildings that used to stand in Franklin County but are now gone. Another project that is in the works is a sourcebook for Salt Creek and Posey townships.

“Any research is time-consuming,” Schlesselman said. “I don't want people to be disappointed if they don't find what they are looking for right away.”

With that she also said that research may lead individuals to other county offices for more information, which may include but is not limited to the recorder's office, the health department, or the clerk's office.

The history and genealogy department along with the entire library is open to public use; a library card is not needed. However, if one would like to check out material, then a library card would be necessary.

The history and genealogy department is actively seeking donations, particularly older yearbooks from Oldenburg Academy, East Central, and Laurel, and any old photos or family Bibles. If individuals would like their document to be available for public use, but do not want to part with it, the library is more than willing to scan documents. Also, volunteering opportunities are available in the history and genealogy department.