February 29, 2024

Crossroads Discovery Center Preview

By Jessica L., Local History and Genealogy Librarian

If you’ve been to the Noblesville branch of Hamilton East Public Library in recent months, you may have noticed construction crews hard at work on the second floor of our building.

Or, if you have done any genealogy or local history work or simply looked for a book cataloged with an “IND RM” label, you may have visited the Rotary Reading Room on the first floor, where the Indiana Room staff have been temporarily located for almost a year.

We are getting closer every day to re-opening our new and improved Crossroads Discovery Center space, and we’re so excited to show you what we’ve done!

Last year, we shared a “virtual tour” of the resources we have available during this temporary construction time. While that list is extensive, we will bring even more to the table once installed upstairs. Let’s take some time to talk through some common questions:

What is the Crossroads Discovery Center or CRDC?

Crossroads Discovery Center artist rendering showing mezzanine and entrance to the spaceThe Indiana Room at HEPL has been around for decades and has always provided local history and genealogy resources to patrons and researchers. Over time, it has expanded to meet the needs of our growing population in our service area. This new phase will make the Indiana Room collection part of the Crossroads Discovery Center, an interactive learning space where patrons can learn about what genealogy is, how to get started, and how to dive deeper into resources. There will also be opportunities to learn about local history, but one of HEPL’s goals in this space is to show that we can help anyone with this work – not just people with multiple generations in the area.

What in-person resources will be available? How about online?

The full genealogy and local history collection you know and love will return upstairs. We will have collections of circulating materials on how to do genealogy research, Indiana history, and books by local authors. We will also have reference materials that deal with those same subjects available for perusal. We have several unique resources related to obituaries, cemetery records, Hamilton County and local family research, and other important research material. Online, there are several databases that are available in the library (and some from home!) that connect patrons to worldwide resources related to genealogy.

What is new in the space?

Artist rendering of CRDC genealogy exhibit

Explore our new permanent Genealogy Exhibit.

Three big expansions are coming to the CRDC: our permanent exhibit, our digital media labs, and our rotating exhibit space.

Along with expanding the physical footprint of the previous Indiana Room, we are adding a permanent, interactive exhibit that will help visitors learn about genealogy and local history. This will serve as a jumping-off point for people new to genealogy or to the Hamilton County area. (For a preview, check out “Cornerstone Exhibits” on this page.)

In our digital media labs, we’ll have equipment to convert VHS, film, slides, and other materials to digital files. We will also have a large recording booth for family oral history interviews. More tech will also be available to scan or digitize important materials like photographs and family records, and it will all be available for free to use in our space.

Opening later this year, our rotating exhibit space located on the opposite side of the mezzanine from the CRDC will feature exhibits that partner with local history organizations and help tell the stories of Hamilton County history.

Who can use the CRDC, and how do I get there?

Anybody can use the Crossroads Discovery Center and its materials, and our space will be open and staffed every hour the library is open. We are on the second floor of the Noblesville Library, accessible by stairs or elevator.

Where else can I learn about genealogy and local history?

Exhibit screen showing how to get started doing genealogy research

Explore how to get started doing genealogy research in our new exhibits.

Part of our work before, during, and after construction is to create programming related to genealogy and local history. Be sure to check out the list of upcoming events and sign up, as we offer programs for all levels of expertise, including beginners.

When do you open?

While we can’t announce an opening date quite yet, we are very, VERY close to welcoming patrons to our space upstairs. We will have a soft opening this spring when resources will be available once again for our patrons. And, we invite the community to celebrate this new milestone with us at our grand opening celebration on June 8. Stay connected with the CRDC to hear more about that event. While the last projects finish up, we may not have everything open all at once, but our staff are here every day and available to help with questions. Be sure to come see us as we get further into spring!