Do You Need a Ghostorian?

Earlier this week, I came across an interview on the Yes and Yes website with personal historian, Rachael Rifkin. What is a personal historian, you might ask? She talks about it as being “part ghost writer, part historian”, hence the term ‘ghostorian’. She interviews people about their lives and puts together a chronicle in book format, complete with photos, to help preserve family stories. It’s almost like writing a biography, but about a regular person.  And as it turns out, there is a marketplace for this type of work.

People love family stories, but often the stories tend to disappear when our relatives pass away. And while it might seem simple enough to jot down the details, it can be more complex to make the story into something comprehensible and available to other family members. Personal historians will interview people, whether it’s a grandparent, a celebration of a new baby, or another important event, and then put everything together into a book format. They’ll take the time to organize photos and really pull out the important bits of information to make the history sound like a great piece of non-fiction. It might take months for a small project, or years for something larger, but wouldn’t it be worthwhile to protect something that could be passed down for generations?

If you do genealogy, this could be a really interesting way to branch off and focus on one of your immediate family members. Or if you had letters from a great-grandmother, it might be a nice way to show her story from beginning to end.


There are plenty of places online where you can find a personal historian, including the Association of Personal Historians . You can even check out Rachael’s own website to see what she offers.  She even has samples of some of the books she’s put together.

Are there people in your family you’d love to do this with? Don’t wait until it’s too late!


Celebrate Your Heritage!


It’s Heritage Week and what better way to celebrate than to do some research on your own family history? We’re offering some great help to get you started in your quest to figure out who your ancestors were. Drop by the library tomorrow night (Wednesday, February 19th) anytime from 5:30pm – 7:30pm for some one-on-one time with our genealogy specialist, Shirley! She’ll get you started on, show you how to begin your search and give you lots of pointers to make your search even better!

You’ll need some basic computer skills, a name and some dates, and be prepared to have fun! And if you’re already doing research, why not donate copies of your information to the library for other patrons who might be looking for local families? You could also drop the information off to the Carleton Place & Beckwith Heritage Museum! If you’re interested in genealogy, you should also check out the Carleton Place Public Library Local History blog!

We wish we could clone Shirley, but you might want to call ahead to make sure she’s available when you arrive. It’s going to be a fun evening.

Everything Old is New Again

Another wonderful display by the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum has transformed our library space once again. Jennifer dropped by and changed out the case with fascinating “new” objects you just need to stop and look at!  We always find these presentations to be so relevant and amazing…it’s hard to believe some of these objects sit in boxes, carefully preserved until Jennifer has a chance to use them again!


If you haven’t been to the library lately, stop by and take a few minutes to look in the big glass case. And bring the kids! There are plenty of wonderful items to look at a discuss. A great way to get in a little local history until the museum opens again!

Five Library Things

The library is a constantly forward-moving institution, even though many people don’t think of us in that way.  We aren’t just books and card catalogs anymore.  We’re technology and books and people. It’s always changing.  So, for today’s blog post, I’ll talk about Five Things that We’re Doing at the Library Today.

#1.  Blog posts, Twitter & Facebook

If you’re reading this, you might know we’ve been blogging for almost five years.  That’s a lot of posts. Not only do we blog to keep you up to date on things going on in the library, but we also aim to entertain and educate.  Our posts are about language, books, reading, writing and so much more. It’s something we enjoy doing, and it has made a real mark for us as a Public Library.  And for the last few years, we’ve also had a Facebook page and we’ve added our thoughts on Twitter. We’re looking into expanding our online presence into Pinterest and other social networking sites in the future, so keep your eyes here for more information.

#2. We’re adding to our Genealogy Room.

Did you know we have a Genealogy room where we keep local history, microfilm and many bits of information about Carleton Place and the people who have lived here?  We have a dedicated computer where you can search for a few hours, or you could use the microfilm machine to search through old issues of the Carleton Place Canadian and more.  Order in a microfilm from Library and Archives Canada to do more focused research on your family tree or ask us how to get started.  We have a quick quiz to help us help you focus on what you’re looking for.  And we’re always adding to the room, getting more local history documented in book form or on disk, so ask us what we have available.  Even if we don’t have it ready now, it might be in the works!

#3.  Expanding Our Collections

Did you know we don’t actively purchase paperbacks?  We rely solely on the donations from our generous patrons who drop off their gently used new books and allow us to add them to our shelves.  You’ll always see new books, whether it’s in fiction, non-fiction or in the children’s area.  We put  more than 150 new books each month into our collection, which also means that we have to constantly clean our shelves of older books to make room (otherwise, we’d be bursting through the doors!). You can often find “new” books on our sale table, so don’t forget to check for a great deal when you come in!

#4.  Preparing for Summer Programs

Even though it’s only May, we’ve been preparing and thinking about our summer programs since about February.  A lot of work goes into the process, and we hope the kids enjoy it when the time rolls around.  This summer is no exception. We’re in the process of hiring our summer student and getting our decorations and programs ready.  It’ll be different this year, with posters and booklets aimed at both the middle grade readers and our youngest set (based on our Ready for Reading program).  It’s going to be a fun summer, with lots of crazy events and programs.  Keep watching in mid-June for our summer Calendar.  Just imagine what we’ll be doing this summer!

#5. Keeping up with technology

Yes, we’ve had eBooks and audiobooks available at the library for a while now, but you probably didn’t realize that we are constantly learning.   With the development of many new devices, our initial training has had to be expanded.  We’ve offered a workshop early this year to help new eBook users and we have a kids workshop in the works as well. While many people are still trying to work their way around the idea of eBooks, we’re here to help with the questions.  It isn’t easy, and with the development of wireless devices, it makes downloading eBooks both easier and trickier at the same time. Hopefully, the publishing companies will continue to work out ways to allow libraries to offer eBooks to their patrons and more authors and publishers will make their books available.  We’d love to have every book available to our patrons whenever they want it, but for now, placing holds and making wish lists will have to do.  It’s an exciting process and just another way we can offer books to the public. We’re looking forward to seeing where this will go in the future!

So, you can see, we always have plenty of new things on the go at the library. It’s an exciting place to work!

Carleton Place Local History

Bridge Street, 1930

Carleton Place Bridge Street 1930

We have just launched a sister blog that will detail fascinating information on the history of Carleton Place.  Right now, you can still find a great deal of information in the page called Local History, just off to the right side of this blog, but we decided that because the page is getting quite large, we’d organize all of the info into a great new blog.

If you are interested in taking a look at the new blog, you can find it here at

Carleton Place Local History.

Genealogy and great reads!

Some of you may have noticed that we have a few new additions to our blog. I want to welcome Shirley and Lillian, two of my co-workers who will be regularly contributing their unique projects to our blog!

First, Shirley is now writing a few pages on our local history and her favourite genealogy websites. She has put together a list of sites that will help a budding genealogist right up to a very experienced researcher. (Check out her tips……she has some fabulous ideas to help make your search easier.) Please pop by her pages called “Genealogy” and “Local History”, located in the right hand column of this page.

And the newest addition to our library family, Lillian, will be adding her trademark wit and vast knowledge of books to a column called “So many books, so little time”, also on the left hand side of this page. In her first page, she gives readers an idea of the types of books she’ll be reviewing, and you get to know a little about her from this great introduction.

So…..keep watching for new and interesting columns and pages being added to our blog!