TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) At the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library, genealogy librarian Shari Schawo is showing Topekans how to research their family history.
It's part of a service called Ancestry.com Library Edition.
"What you're doing when you come in to look at Ancestry.com is that you're looking for different records to work your way back in time," said Schawo.
Some of the available documents include the federal census, immigration records, and birth, marriage, and death certificates.
Rita Bock started researching her family ten years ago and now helps friends. She says electronic documents have made her research simpler.
"You just put in your name and it comes up. It's a lot easier than it used to be. We used to have to take the microfilm and read each line," she said.
Individual membership to Ancestry.com can cost up to $155 per year. However, the library's services are free. To access the services, you need a library card.
"A lot of people just cannot afford to pay the prices, especially not lately, so we are able to offer that as a package," said Schawo.
Ancestry.com Library Edition must be accessed from inside the library. There are 150 computes in the library's lower level, and four reserved research computers in the Baker Genealogy Center. There are some services library members can access from home.
"In addition to Ancestry.com, we recently added a database called Fold 3, and that has access to military records that you can access from your home computer using your library card," said Schawo.
Bock says it's easy to find history at the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library.
"All you need is one name. Then you have two, then you have four, then you have eight, then you have sixteen. Every name you find, you have to find two more," said Bock.
Schawo says they have been seeing an average of 900 people per month using the genealogy services. The Baker Genealogy Center is on the 2nd floor of the library, and is open during regular library hours.