A look at the library’s resourceful Indiana Room

By Annette Blount | For The Republic
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More often than not I am faced with people who find their way back to the Indiana Room and say to me, “I didn’t even know this room was here” or they will ask, “Am I allowed to be in here?”

The room has been part of the library since the addition was completed in 1987. In response to the questions about being allowed in the Indiana Room; the room is always open the same hours as the rest of the library and anyone is welcome to come in and see what is available or you can come in to study or research your family or Indiana history or even just to look around.

The Indiana Room is home to our genealogy collection. We have many reference books about Bartholomew County and several of our surrounding counties and states. We also have family histories and books to help guide you with your genealogy research. If you need help using Ancestry.com (it is currently still available at home from our website with your library card) you might check out The Unofficial Guide to Ancestry.com or The Unofficial Guide to FamilySearch.org can supply you with tips for using FamilySearch.org. The library has Bartholomew County’s marriages on microfilm from 1821-1920 and death records for Bartholomew County on microfiche from 1882-1980. We also have access to the local newspaper both on microfilm and online through Newspapers.com. Our online local access for the newspaper is available only when you are in the library or you can access Indiana Historical newspapers from home with your library card.

If you are not interested in genealogy, the Indiana Room also houses books about Indiana and books by Indiana authors and local authors. Many of the books in the Indiana Room can be checked out. They are not all reference. We have a small fiction collection with authors such as Gene Stratton Porter, Theodore Dreiser and Booth Tarkington just to name a few. The nonfiction collection includes much the same as the regular collection only with a focus on Indiana. We have cookbooks dedicated to Hoosier cooks and cooking, books about plants and wildlife native to Indiana, Native Americans in Indiana, travel books for Indiana, and of course, books telling the history of Indiana and also of Bartholomew County. Be sure to check out the new book about our county’s 200 year history, Bartholomew County, Indiana: Celebrating 200 Years, 1821-2021. It is a beautiful new photographic history of our county.

Usually the Indiana Room is one of the quietest places in the library, unless some genealogists are gathered there seeking more stories to add to the family history. Sometimes people use the room to study quietly but when there is family history research going on it becomes a place of story-telling, reminiscing and new discoveries. That is the part I enjoy the most. I love to be there when someone discovers a new piece of the puzzle that is their family history.

If I can’t interest you in a book or the desire to investigate your own family history, at least come back and take a look around the Indiana Room. We have some wonderful artwork to look at. There are maps of Indiana on the wall that people enjoy looking at. There is a model of the Brownsville covered bridge at Mill Race Park in front of the Indiana Room. We have artwork on the walls from local and Indiana artists. Many people have said it is their favorite room in the library. It is definitely is my favorite room in the library!

Annette Blount is the Genealogy Librarian at the Bartholomew County Public Library and can be reached at [email protected]