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Public Libraries

Research Strategy: Public libraries are a bit challenging to find in an unknown area. They are usually set up as follows: 1) city - like Seattle, 2) county - like King, 3) regional - like Timberland, 4) state. Sometimes they don't even have the same name as the location. Timberland Regional Library is in Olympia and covers several counties in that area. In Minnesota, the Pine River, MN library is called Kitchigami Regional Library. Regional library systems cover several counties. You can always Google a library. Just put the name of the town into the Google search engine and the state and it will probably give you some idea. Here is an example: Library, Seattle, Washington State. Always use Washington State otherwise you end up in Washington, D.C. Usually a branch library or regional library will have an interactive map or location information on their website that helps you find the branch you want.

Don't forget that your local library may have a wonderful assortment of databases that you can access from home with or without your library card from that library. Because of budget cuts and remodeling projects some library systems will close their branches, so check their websites before you plan to visit.

Here is a State of Washington link to a listing for libraries within our state. So if you don't find a listing here check this website out for more information. Most other states have the same type of overview/portal website.

BELLINGHAM PUBLIC LIBRARY
210 Central Avenue
Bellingham, WA 98227

The library has a special collection of library materials relating to the history of Whatcom County. Topics include: logging, Lummi Indians, railroads, and the Pacific American Fisheries. Books found in the Local History collection may be checked out by Bellingham and Whatcom County library cardholders. The Genealogy Collection can be accessed here.

EVERETT PUBLIC LIBRARY
2702 Hoyt Avenue
Everett, WA 98201
Reference: 425-257-8000

Click here to visit the Everett Public Library Northwest Room. They have the Biographies Index, Digital Collections, Everett History, and the Snohomish County Bookshelf. In addition they have maps, pamphlets, oral history interviews, historic photos relating to Everett and Snohomish County history. Their digital images cover the Evergreen Cemetery Collection, Sanborn maps of Everett, Herald Photos of 50's and 60's, The Everett Massacre and Places of the Past.

FORT VANCOUVER REGIONAL LIBRARY
Vancouver Community Library
1007 E. Mill Plain Blvd.
Vancouver, WA 98663

If you're looking for local information, you'll find a great selection in their large Northwest reference collection that includes local history and many current regional documents. They have local newspapers on microfilm back to the 1800s. Check their website links for the branch libraries.

KING COUNTY LIBRARY SYSTEM (KCLS)
They are very strong on interlibrary loan within the system. The Burien Library branch has the Northwest Collection. This collection focuses on the life and culture of Northwest Native peoples, Northwest exploration and the westward movement. The collection also covers the history of Washington, Oregon and British Columbia and a lot more. The Auburn Branch houses the collection of the So. King County Genealogical Society and the Bellevue Regional Library houses the collection of the Eastside Genealogical Society. On the home page of the KCLS click on Library Locations and hours to find the different branch websites within this library system.

LONGVIEW PUBLIC LIBRARY
1600 Louisiana St.
Longview, WA 98632

The Longview Room houses the local history collection. They have newspaper clippings, maps, pamphlets, books about Washington (in particular the Southwest part of the State), clippings about the 1980 Mount St. Helens volcanic eruption, local yearbooks, and a large collection of photographs of Longview's founding in the 1920s.

NORTH OLYMPIC LIBRARY SYSTEM
Port Angeles Public Library
2210 South Peabody Street
Port Angeles, WA 98362

The North Olympic Library system sponsors a local newspaper index to articles and obituaries from current local newspapers. The index provides citations for articles and obituaries in Port Angeles newspapers. It covers local events from 1993 to February 29, 2008, and obituary listings from 1916 to the present. Limited access to the Sequim Gazette is available as well. Full-text articles from Port Angeles papers and the Sequim Gazette can be retrieved from microfilm and/or bound copies in the Port Angeles Library. The library also has digital copies of many local historical newspapers printed from 1886 onward available for viewing. This regional library system also has a location listing of their branches to click on their main website.

SEATTLE PUBLIC LIBRARY AND SEATTLE BRANCH LIBRARIES
1000 Fourth Ave. 9th and 10th Floor
Seattle, WA 98104
206-386-4636

The Genealogy Collection houses more than 40,000 items dealing primarily with records and families of North America - including those from the original 13 colonies, the Old Northwest Territory and from states referred to as "Gateways to the West." Search the library catalog for the titles you would like to search. They have a vertical file of family histories on the 9th floor.

The Genealogy Collection is located on Level 9 of the Central Library. Three full-time genealogy librarians provide expert reference service to genealogists. They have 2500 reels of microfilm mostly on Washington State.

The newspaper and periodicals are located on the 7th floor. The Seattle Public Library has the Seattle Times and PI, the New York Times and a few other papers.

The Seattle Collection Room is on the 10th Floor and has very early city directories. They have Seattle city documents, photographs, newspaper clippings, maps and atlases, high school yearbooks and oral histories.

The Seattle Public Library has an interactive map of the different branch libraries in its system. Their library locator is on the right side of the home page. Unfortunately the main branch genealogical collection does not circulate but you might find a title in another local library that will.

Don't forget the online databases & websites at the Seattle Public Library. If you have a SPL library card you can access some of these sites from home. Otherwise you have to go to the library to access them. Seattle Public Library as links to: American Genealogy Bank, Ancestry Library edition, Biography & Genealogy Master Index, Canadian Genealogy Centre, Cyndi's List of Genealogical Sites, Digital Sanborn Maps 1867-1970, Family History Catalog, GENUKI (Genealogy of the United Kingdom and Ireland), Heritage Quest Online, inGeneas.com, NUCMUC (National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections), Rootsweb, The Digital Archives from the Washington Secretary of State, and the USGenWebProject.

SNO-ISLE PUBLIC LIBRARY SYSTEM

The main branch at Lynnwood houses newspapers, city directories and more. At their home page they have a link to genealogy with information about databases, and links to genealogical resources. The Snoqualmie Public Library branch has old newspapers and resources to explore. They also have a branch locator to help find more information on their branch libraries. They cover Snohomish and Island Counties.

SPOKANE PUBLIC LIBRARY
906 West Main Ave.
Spokane, WA 99201

The Spokane Public Library houses one of the finest and most extensive Northwest collections in the country in their Northwest room. Their collection consists of reference books, maps, directories, periodicals, government documents, and archival materials pertaining to the history, exploration, and settlement of the Northwest, including Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and the province of British Columbia. The Northwest Room offers information on every period from the late 1700's to the present. In addition this library houses the collection of the Eastern Washington Genealogical Society.

TIMBERLAND REGIONAL LIBRARY
313 8th Ave. SE
Olympia, WA 98501

This library houses a collection of newspapers, Donation Land Claims, Death Indexes and Census.

TACOMA PUBLIC LIBRARY
Northwest Room
1102 Tacoma Ave. S
Tacoma, WA 98402
Email: nwr@tacomapubliclibrary.org
Open 9-9 pm Mon-Thurs, Fri & Sat 9 to 6 pm. They are closed on Sundays.

Click on the home page Tacoma Past and Present to get to the Northwest Room which has newspapers on microfilm and a great online Tacoma/Pierce Obituary Index. The collection includes area maps, city directories, family histories, local history, and card indexes for local families. They have a Genealogical Resources page. A nice feature is the Washington Place Name database which can help you identify an old geographic place name. They also have a ships & shipping index and more. This is a great website and library. Take time to explore it!

WASHINGTON STATE LIBRARY
Mail: P.O. Box 42460, Olympia, WA 98504-2460
Street: Point Plaza East, 6880 Capitol Blvd. Tumwater, WA
Email Jan Walsh, State Librarian: jwalsh@secstate.wa.gov
Reference Phone: 360-704-704-5221
General Information Email: askalibrarian@secstate.wa.gov

Their website has a link to search the catalog, a link for online Washington History Books, and a link to search online Pioneer Newspapers. They have another link for Washington Resources, History and a blog. There is also a link for Genealogy and Digital Collections. They have an outstanding Newspaper Collection for the State of Washington. Washington State residents can email one of the librarians to look up an obituary.

Washington State Library Search Page - to help you find libraries in our state.