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Learn New Hobbies With The Library: Filling In Your Family Tree by Jennifer McConkey

Jennifer McConkey
Jennifer McConkey

When you think of the public library, do you imagine rows and rows of books and a place to use computers? Or maybe you now picture a website with free e-books and audiobooks.

It turns out both are good descriptions, but libraries provide even more than that.

For example, the public libraries in Highlands County have helpful resources for hobbyists including online classes, e-books, audiobooks and traditional books.

Whether you want to learn a new past-time or have been a pro for years, the libraries have free resources that you can use.

Learning Your Genealogy

One activity that many people are interested in learning more about is genealogies.

If you’re interested in learning more about your family history but don’t know where to start or how to find family records, your local library can help.

For beginners, you can take a free course on Universal Class to learn how to get started on your family tree.

That class, called “Genealogy 101,” teaches learners basic terminology and describes how to begin making a family tree and find information.

To get to the class, visit, click on “Language & Learning,” and then click on the black button that says “Universal Class.”

If you’ve never used Universal Class before, you’ll need to sign up using your library card number.

Once you’re signed in, click “Course Catalog” at the top of the page and search for “Genealogy.” Click on the class that comes up, then click the green “Join This Course” button.

That class is available as a video-only course or as an interactive “certificate class.”

You can also visit Overdrive to borrow e-books like “How to Do Everything Genealogy”

by George G. Morgan and “Researching Your Family History Online For Dummies” by Nick Barratt.

Overdrive is located on under “Ebooks & Audiobooks.” E-books and audiobooks are also available through Axis 360 on the same webpage.

And while you’re on the library website, click the “Historical Resources” tab to get links to local historical societies and to HeritageQuest Online.

Through HeritageQuest, you can view U.S. and Canadian census records and search for records on your ancestors.

You can also use RB Digital to access e-books, e-magazines and audiobooks for free.

To use RB Digital, contact your local library for an access code, then visit, click on “Libraries” under the “Departments” dropdown menu, select “Access Your Library’s Online Resources” on the left side of the screen, then click the “Continue” button.

If you want to learn more about the past in addition to genealogies, check out online and in-library resources on collecting coins, antiques and other unique items.

Books can currently be checked out through curbside and walk-up services on Fridays and Saturdays. Call (863) 402-6716 Tuesday-Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. for information or help requesting items.

Make sure to check future Library Lines articles to learn how to get started with other hobbies using free library resources