Here at the State Library, we do a variety of things. Our library’s print and online resources cover a wealth of subjects and the assistance we provide gives patrons and data users a vast array of options for finding answers to their questions. Librarians and staff here are cross-trained in assisting with answering questions about genealogy, Indiana history, general reference, data about Indiana, specifics about library usage and research in federal and state government documents, among other topics.
- We are considered a research library, and many of our employees have belonged to the ACRL, the Association of College and Research Libraries. Although we are not an academic library – a library associated with a college or university – we do provide access to several in-depth special collections such as our Genealogy, Indiana, Rare Books and Manuscripts, cage and Holliday collections. The State Library is a research library in the broader sense of the term.
- We are considered a special library by the American Library Association definition because we are a library that operates within a state government. If you view the history of the library, you’ll see that we were originally created to serve our state legislature. The library’s mission has grown over the years. For a brief period beginning in the 1930s, the library was part of the Indiana Department of Education. We now serve under the executive branch of state government and we are open to the public.
- We are also a government information library. Several of our librarians consider themselves to be government information librarians. We handle requests about federal and state government documents and data on a regular basis. The government documents collections here include our Federal Depository Library Program collection, our Indiana state documents collection and our State Data Center collection.
- Our focus is on Indiana history. Many of the patrons we serve are looking for the history behind a certain person, group of people or Indiana location. Our history resources include original census records going back to the first census in 1790, county histories and maps of Indiana available from before statehood in 1816, rare family history volumes from residents of Indiana and surrounding states and the largest collection of Indiana newspapers in the world. Indiana history is one of our specialties here, so Indiana State Library staff are happy to help with history questions. Our building is also a living historical artifact. Built in 1934, it contains beautiful architectural details that you’ll need to visit to see. Contact us for a tour of the State Library!
*A friendly research tip, while you perform your research here, remember to collect information on the sources you view. This will ensure you do not repeat research you’ve already done and it helps while you’re creating citations for your reference lists and works cited pages.
In addition to our research collections, we also house the Indiana Young Readers Center and the Talking Book and Braille Library, both services of federal library programs through the Library of Congress – the Indiana Center for the Book and the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled, respectively.
Last but not least, the Indiana Historical Bureau shares our building and is a part of our organization. The Bureau manages the state markers program and runs a highly educational research blog. Their website contains excellent resources for educators here.
The Indiana State Library and Historical Bureau can also direct you to additional resources at the Indiana Archives and Records Administration, a partner agency. Discover more about its holdings here.
This blog post was written by Katie Springer, reference librarian. For more information, contact the Reference and Government Services Division at 317-232-3678 or submit an Ask-A-Librarian request.