Now adding to its attraction, Independence, Missouri, boasts the all new, Midwest Genealogy Center, which opened June 21. Billed as one the nation’s largest libraries specifically for people tracing their ancestry, the 52,000-square-foot building replaces a facility one-quarter its size that was previously housed in the Mid-Continent Public Library’s north Independence branch, as announced recently in the Lawrence Journal - World & News.
“There aren’t too many places where you can research the entire United States in just one spot,” said Steve Potter, assistant director of the Mid-Continent system, which serves Jackson, Platte and Clay counties.
Among genealogists, the Mormon church’s Family History Library in Salt Lake City is considered the mother lode of information, with millions of documents available online or through local branches. The next tier is occupied by public libraries in Dallas, Houston, New York, Los Angeles, Fort Wayne, Ind., and Independence — a one-time frontier town known as the jumping off spot for westward expansion.
The $8 million center features ample classrooms, videoconference space and computer work stations. Security and fire safety have improved, and researchers can now digitally convert the documents they find, rather than relying on librarians. With more space, the genealogy center expects to boost its public programs and attract regional and national speakers, as well as pursue its own collections.