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Genealogy This Week - 4 September 2010

Our weekly compilation of interesting new tools, resources and stories for genealogists. This week:

Bielefeld Search Engine – Here is a good genealogy brick wall solution if you are looking for a living relative who may be an academic. The Bielefeld Academic Search Engine (BASE) is a specialty search engine for academic papers around the world. You can search for engineers, scientists and researchers simply by typing in their name. It contains more than 25 million records, with about 3 million new records added every year. Access is free. [Bielefeld Academic Search Engine]

Old European Telephone Books – This is a good resource for anyone living in North America with European ancestors. The US Library of Congress maintains an extensive collection of European address and telephone directories. Some of the address books and telephone directories go back decades. Unfortunately, most of these directories are not yet online, but the internet site does have a complete listing of what is available by country. In addition to extensive listings for Western European countries, the collection also includes most of the former Soviet republic from such difficult-to-trace countries such as Albania, Armenia, Bulgaria, Ukraine, etc. This is a great genealogical resource. [Library of Congress European Address and Telephone Directory Collection]

Enhanced WorldCat Search – WorldCat is a wonderful resource for genealogists. Basically, it is an aggregated online card catalogue for most of the major libraries around the world. To put this another way, WorldCat maintains the world’s largest library catalogue. WorldCat announced this week that they have enhanced their basic search capabilities. This will make it easier for users to retrieve relevant source material. Give it a try. Access is free. [WorldCat Advanced Search]

UK Library Use Continues to Decline – A new study out of the UK a week ago shows that library usage continues to decline. The key finding of the report (part of a much larger report called Taking Part: The National Survey of Culture, Leisure and Sport) was that only 29% of the adult population regularly uses libraries, down from 38% just four years ago. The decline in library use does not appear to be a short-term phenomenon, but a longer-term social trend. And although this study was done for the UK, a similar trend is likely evident in many other countries as well. This is unfortunate timing as libraries try to stay relevant in the internet age while fending off government cuts during the economic downturn. We have all read stories about the archived section of libraries (which contain the genealogy records) often sustaining the greatest cuts. This is not good for genealogy research.

Making Free Telephone Calls from Airports – We thought we would end our weekly column on a more positive note. The next time you are in an airport, check out the Google Voice telephone booth. It allows you to make free local and international telephone calls. As shown in the picture below, the Google Voice telephone booth resembles the classic British red telephone booth. Google will start deploying these phone booths at airports all around the world in the next few weeks. The purpose is to get people to try Google Voice (free) and compare it to their paid phone services.

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