First off was finding our way there. Like most big cities, the traffic can be challenging under the best of circumstances. Add the fact that we were totally unfamiliar with where we were going, driving on the left still feels weird to us at times, and we were there pretty much at the peak of rush hour. So to some extent the trip in was a white knuckle exercise in reliance on our guardian angels. Suffice it to say there were a few spots where I just covered my eyes and prayed for safety.
Once we got there we had no idea where we could park. Parking is a serious premium here. After driving around circles for a several blocks we finally found a public carpark close to the library with much relief. That relief turned to trepidation when we found the fee to park there was $6.50 per HALF hour. Yikes!
Still, we were determined to get to the library and we had an appointment to meet someone there, so on we went. We were not disappointed.
Libraries are such amazing places. Ever since I was a little kid I've been in awe of these repositories of knowledge that give us free access to the experience and imagination of people from across the generations. Although I must admit, as much as I love libraries (and I truly do!) I also feel a bit overwhelmed and discouraged when I go to really nice ones. Just looking at all those stacks reminds me that even if I were to read 10 hours a day every single day for the rest of my life I would never be able to read all the wonderful books that are out there. Sometimes I feel downright heartsick to know I will inevitably miss out on some truly great works since there simply are not enough hours in the day, not enough years in a single lifetime. Still...what I WILL discover in the libraries of the world will be pretty great.
Today, however, we were not there to look at books. We came to check out the Genealogy resources there were available. I was stunned by the amount of resources they had. Not only were there stacks and stacks of books this library also had several microfilm / microfiche readers and has a robust program of lunchtime speaker presentations.
We talked with Shona Lewis, the Family History Librarian on staff and learned a bit more about their programs. They have quite a lot to be proud of.
Our job as Pacific Area Family History Support missionaries is not primarily geared to helping individuals do research. Instead, we work with church leaders all over the Pacific to help them implement programs to encourage and support members to be more engaged in family history and temple work. Our job is really to focus on the spiritual aspects of strengthening families by helping them see the value of learning and recording their family stories.
Still, we do get chances to talk about the nuts and bolts of HOW to do family history work, so knowing what resources are out there specific to this part of the world will be really helpful. I'm glad we got to see all the great resources here and I'm sure we will be back to participate in some of their programs.