Last week's newsletter contained an article noting that the Godfrey Memorial Library was dropping HeritageQuest Online from its list of offerings. The announcement was met with dismay by many genealogists as this had been a very popular offering.
Ironically, the Godfrey Library wasn't even the cheapest option; another organization already offers the same access to nationwide members for $27 a year. Even better, more than a thousand public libraries offer remote, in-home access to HeritageQuest free of charge.
The article published on this newsletter's web site at http://blog.eogn.com/eastmans_online_genealogy/2005/12/godfrey_library.html generated many comments, including one excellent suggestion from Chris Dunham:
Has anyone thought of maintaining a list online of participating libraries and societies? Maybe an entry for HeritageQuest Online could be added to the Encyclopedia of Genealogy so that visitors could add (or delete, as necessary) access points.
Apparently Chris was the first to think of this. I followed up on his suggestion by creating such a page on the Encyclopedia of Genealogy. I listed a number of libraries that I knew about that offer free or for-a-fee access to HeritageQuest Online. Other newsletter readers have since added even more listings. Maureen Mann added a long list of libraries in New Jersey that offer free remote in-home access to HeritageQuest Online. She also offered information about LibCat, an online database of libraries that describes the offerings of most libraries in the U.S.
We now know that all residents of Massachusetts, Nebraska, and Texas have free access to HeritageQuest Online. Most Florida residents, although perhaps not all, also can obtain free remote in-home access. There probably are more state library organizations that offer free access to all state residents.
Several libraries offer free access to local residents and non-residents alike. You probably can obtain a library card from a participating "local" library 3,000 miles away!
The list on the Encyclopedia of Genealogy is available at http://www.eogen.com/HeritageQuestOnline. If you know of still other participating libraries, please add them to that page.
In short, for most Americans, there is no need to pay $35 a year for access to HeritageQuest Online. Almost all of us can obtain free access to the same databases. For the very few who cannot, other options exist for $27 to $75 per year.