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June 28, 2024

The Library Behind-the-Scenes: Crossroads Discovery Center

What do librarians and library workers do all day? It’s not just sitting behind a desk reading a book! Get to know how the public library works behind-the-scenes! This year, we’ll highlight different departments and services the Hamilton East Public Library offers to give you an inside glimpse into how the library serves our community.

Today, Katelyn C., Director of Experiential Learning, from our newly opened Crossroads Discovery Center in Noblesville Library will explain how they bring storytelling and genealogy together, connecting the people of Hamilton County to their community and their personal histories.

Q: How did the Crossroads Discovery Center (CRDC) get started?

A: The Indiana Room has been a beloved library resource since the 1970s. In 2020, the library was just beginning our long and storied construction project. At that time, we knew we were going to renovate the second floor of the Noblesville library, and we wanted to reimagine our Indiana Room. After the success of our Ignite Studio Makerspace in Fishers, we decided to bring the kinds of hands-on learning that the community embraced there into our history and genealogy services. We talked with staff, patrons, and various community organizations to learn about the needs of the history and genealogy community. We heard that the community wanted a space to discover and tell their story. So, we created our concept and designs based on that. We wanted to create a space that would pique the interests of beginner genealogists and satisfy the appetites of more experienced genealogists and local history buffs.

entryway to exhibit with wall reading crossroads discovery center

Q: Tell us about a typical day in the CRDC.

A: We help patrons with research on their family genealogy and on local history. Most of our physical collection focuses on local family surnames and Hamilton County history, but we are also able to assist patrons who have family that have never lived in the state using our vast digital resources. We also help patrons access all the equipment available. We plan and facilitate programs each month on genealogy and local history. We keep and organize our archives and our collection to try to make the resources we have as accessible as possible.

Q: What’s your favorite part of your job?

A: The people and the stories. We get to meet so many different people and hear all about their family stories and memories of the community from years ago. It’s so interesting to know that everyone has a story, and we’re excited to help them discover it.

woman looking through a book in front of a bookshelf while a man has his hand on her shoulder

Q: What do people not realize they can do at the CRDC?

A: Since we reopened the space, there are all kinds of technology available to patrons. Not only do we have interactive exhibits to play with, but also we can also help you convert your old media, scan and digitize documents, print on our large format printer, record audio, and more! You can reserve equipment in advance of your visit.

two boys looking at digital screen

Q: What kinds of people could you meet at the CRDC?

A: Every day we help people discover their family’s genealogy story. We answer reference questions, locate resources, and help people break through their genealogy brick wall. Also, we have close relationships with several historical societies and other organizations doing historical research and preservation in the community. With our new equipment, we’re excited to be able to support their work and offer greater access to our community’s history.

Q: What goes into curating the archives and developing the programming and resources offered at the CRDC?

A: Our team of skilled genealogy librarians and historians work together to evaluate the resources and stories we bring to life. Often, patrons reach out to us with a donation for our archives, and we’ll consider the item’s or collection’s historic importance and relevance to our community. We also work to digitize our archives to make them as accessible as possible. Many items in our archives can be found on Indiana Memory, Ancestry.com, and Newspapers.com, making them infinitely more searchable. In terms of our programming, we take feedback from our patrons, including our Genealogy Advisory Board, on what kinds of things they are interested in. We also try to create a diverse range of programs. You don’t have to have ancestors who lived in Hamilton County to find our programs and resources beneficial.

digital screen in museum exhibit

Q: Where can people learn more about the CRDC and how to use the space?

A: Visit our website here. And, come up to the second floor of the Noblesville location to see all that we have.

Thank you, Katelyn! Stay tuned to the HEPL blog each month to learn more about the library behind-the-scenes!