The best thing about libraries is the access to free information that is only available elsewhere in exchange for money — books, movies, magazines, etc.
In this digital age, you can now add paywalled websites to the list of resources offered for free at local libraries.
The Scotts Valley Branch Library is offering free access to Ancestry.com, a genealogy website that normally costs users as much as $35 per month. Unlike many pay-to-play websites that claim wide access to interesting information but offer very little, Ancestry.com is the real deal.
PCMag.com gave the online tool a four-star rating, saying it "provides easy access to a wealth of document databases related to family history." Using Ancestry.com, you can trace your family lineage back multiple generations and create a digital family tree that lets you map out your history with documents and photos.
Not only is the service (which can cost several hundred dollars per year) free to use at the local library, but the folks over there are also offering a workshop to show you just how to use the site.
On Feb. 2 from 2 - 3:30 p.m., "Find Your Ancestors at the Library: Learn to Use the Library Edition of Ancestry.com" will show locals how to look up census and immigration records and create a family tree. According to Santa Cruz Public Libraries Division Manager Janis O'Driscoll, the workshop is "appropriate for beginning to advanced genealogists and family historians."
The free workshop will fill up and requires registration. Anyone can register by calling the library at 831-427-7712. Participants are encouraged to bring a laptop, but library computers will also be available.