Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Volunteering at the Library for COG #88

In 1993 I was asked by Carolyn Weidner the library volunteer coordinator to volunteer as a “gene helper” at the library. The library was being rebuilt and the temporary library was in the old “Penny's” building kitty corner across the street from the old library building. The old library building was actually the old “Sears store” which had been donated to the city in 1962. In the temporary quarters they put the genealogy section right inside the east door of building and since Spokane gets rather cold in the winter a lot of “homeless people” would come into the warm library and warm up and sleep. The shift I was on was from 6 to 9 pm on the second Thursday of the month and so we had a lot of “homeless people” come in then, so that is why Carolyn was looking for as many men volunteers for the evening shifts.

January of 1994 the new library opened and the genealogy section is on the third floor. I continued on the second Thursday as a “gene helper”. We helped anyone that came to the library to find books or microfilm and to just generally get them going in their research. A lot of nights were not very busy so I worked on my own genealogy research. I was also online on Prodigy then and answered some queries for obit lookups and other easy to do research. Late in 1997 Ray Fisher the EWGS researcher announced he was retiring from the research, and I asked if I could replace Ray and do the research for EWGS. I was told no one could replace Ray, but I could try the job for a year on probation and if I did a good job I could continue.
This is a picture of the opening when they were moving books hand to hand across the street from the temporary library to the new library building. The lady in pink is our present EWGS President Donna Phillips and the lady to her left is Melode Hall.

Ray was very nice in showing me around the library and also the courthouse so I could do lookups there also. While most of the queries were routine I did get some I did not have a clue on how to find the answer. One was to find some information on covered bridges in our area, I did not even know we had any covered bridges in our area, but the librarian in the Northwest Room knew all about it and handled that query. Another was to copy of page 134 from Hartford?? It was for page 134 in the Hartford records of the Barbour Collection we had on microfilm in the library.

In 2002 a new city was formed in our county called Spokane Valley, while I live in the city of Spokane it really did not impact me much, but one day at the library I got a note from our County Auditor. With the forming of the new city the county was losing about a third of their income. She was looking for a volunteer to do lookups for genealogists in the records at the courthouse, so since I was already familiar with those records I went and said I would volunteer to do those lookups. I spent from an hour or two a week doing those lookups. It was rather easy to stop at the courthouse early in the morning and do the lookups, get the copies and then head for the library that opened at 10 am to do research at the library. I still do both volunteer jobs, but seldom stop at the courthouse anymore because most of the records from our courthouse are online at the Washington State Digital Archives.

NOTE The present library building is the third building to occupy that spot, the first was the passenger depot for the Electric Railroad that ran from Spokane to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. The second was the Sears building.


  1. Charles, I very much enjoyed reading about your volunteer service at the library and the court house. That is a fantastic way to keep involved with current genealogy trends and help others. Thank you for the work you do and for writing this post for the CoG.

  2. You are one of the great ones. I love our volunteers at our local library. They are right up there with angels. Our librarian is lost if they can not come in.
    Thanks for being a volunteer angel.

  3. Thanks Judy and Hummer Volunteering is always very rewarding as you always get more out of volunteering than you put in.

  4. Library volunteers are often overlooked, but do an important service. Thanks for taking the time to help!



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