Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Society of Genealogists

Arriving at SoG
Although my recent journey was not a genealogy holiday I did schedule in a couple of days to visit The Society of Genealogists in London.

Before my visit I was a good girl and spent a few hours consulting their OPAC and drawing up a list of resources to find. I had no trouble locating their building in a dingy part of London after my tube ride from Kensington.

As it was 18 pounds per day to use their facilities and 41 pounds to join the Society I opted for membership. As I was going to spend two days there this seemed worthwhile. After filling in the membership form and being issued with a temporary membership card and a folder full of paper I was on my way. The gentleman on the desk was not particularly welcoming to me or the two Americans who were joining at the same time as me so I was pleased that I had read all of the information on the Society website before going along.

The Bookshop and Reception Desk
Having deposited my goods in the locker room I  made my way to the library to start my investigations.    Within a few hours I was able to find all of the resources I was seeking although their contents did not yield the treasure I had been hoping for. There is an enormous amount of printed material in the collection but I found that their classification system did not, like Dewey, clump all resources on a similar subject together closely so browsing the shelves was not so easy for me.

I spent just two days at the Society. On the second day I attended a free talk for members, by the SoG 
Librarian, Tim Lawrence. The content of this lecture 
about which I will blog separately made me pleased about my decision to join the Society.

Banks of printed resources
Although it was spotlessly clean I found the environment at the Society a bit shabby with mismatched chairs and daggy carpet (an issue for many organisations with limited budgets) The computers on the lower ground floor were rather new and it was easy to get access to these as visitors on the days I attended were thin on the ground.  Space appears to be at a premium in this building that is bulging with resources; the people who work here must be very fit from running up an down the stairs from floor to floor.

It was frustrating that there was no wifi available in the building ; I was told that there was a trial happening soon. I would happily have paid more for this facility.

One could certainly spend weeks in this establishment browsing through the resources on offer. The bias in their collection is certainly towards English resources although there is a bit on Scotland and Ireland and a few things on other countries. I just hope that I can return within the next twelve months to get more value from my membership.

Card index stashed in a corner
I went up and down stairs in this multi-level building


Celia Lewis said...

Looks very worthwhile and definitely to be put on the list to visit again. Sounds like a grand albeit a bit frustrating adventure in genealogy, Jill.

Lynda said...

Thanks for this evaluation, Jill. I have been a member for a few years but never visited the office. Their member publication is excellent, so I think you'll find it worth the membership, especially if you have UK lines.

Infolass said...

Thanks Jill for your very interesting post. I am visiting the SoG in February.


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