Sunday, February 22, 2015

Being Frank on cutting funding for Indiana State Library

Members of the General Assembly should ensure funding continues for state library

I see The Indiana House may be taking budget matters into their own hands and that could  mean no cut to the Indiana State Library. 
Earlier, Gov. Mike Pence announced his budget goals which included reductions to the library including the end of the Genealogy Department and the INSPIRE online research tool. 
It probably won’t be a surprise that this newsman likes books and the information libraries contain. 
In this time of social media we need all the balance we can get. 
I have mentioned several times how much I enjoy social media. This column is not contradictory but the fact is, we need information that has been carefully researched, accurate and more than eight minutes old. 
I am very uneasy when I hear comments like, “I don’t need to read the newspaper, I have Facebook and Twitter.” 
Much of the information on social media is rumor and none of it is well researched. No opposing viewpoints are presented. 
I work full time in news and have for years. We don’t have the time to research everything as well as we would like but we do try to present opposing viewpoints. We try to find multiple sources for the stories we publish and shame on us if we don’t do our best. Twitter and Facebook presents single sided opinions and snapshots of our world. 
Sometimes we are chastised because we don’t publish the whole story in one edition of the paper. We can’t. Many times “the whole story” about an event isn’t known for years after the event occurs. But we try. We do our best. 
Libraries are one of the most important structures in any community and genealogy is much more than a hobby. It is a record of who we are as individuals and families. 
One of the most important news stories to me, personally, involved genealogy. 
An elder in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the Mormons) wanted to share with the community what the church could offer people in family research. 
It sounded like a good idea (though I am not a Mormon). 
“Why don’t you give me a little basic information and I will research your family tree so you can see the value of what we do,” he said. 
I told him my full name (Terry Franklin Phillips Sr.), my parents names (Clair and Velma Phillips) and my grandparents’ names (Clair Franklin Phillips and Essie Phillips and Benjamin Franklin and Cerilda Zellers) and their last cities of residence. 
A week later, when we got together to do the interview, he was able to tell me that the Phillipses split into two groups after arriving in the United States. One group traveled south into Kentucky and the other group traveled north into Canada before returning to the United States. My great-grandparents settled in Michigan City, where my dad was born. 
Since then, I have met other Phillipses who came from the “southern” branch of the family tree. In fact, one of them is now the editor of the Journal Review newspaper in Crawfordsville. Her mother was a Phillips from the Kentucky branch, as LInda and I learned when we met the editor’s mom. 
How cool is that!
It doesn’t mean much to you, maybe, but what if you learned something neat about your family and how you came to live in Indiana? 
My mother was an amateur genealogist. I am not. After her passing, I was thrilled to box up her research and pass it on to another member of the Zellers clan who was into genealogy. 
Our city has a wonderful library. People regularly visit it to learn more about many things, including their family ties. 
I am a total nerd, I guess. When I first moved to West Central Indiana in 1977, I would visit the Indianapolis public library each week and look through back issues of newspapers. I did the same thing during six years we lived in Elkhart. It helped me gain a new perspective on news events I remembered from childhood. 
I encourage the House Republicans to keep on keeping on with their attempt to save all of the Indiana State Library. Think of it as our community’s memory bank. 

Frank Phillips is a reporter for The Brazil Times in Brazil, Indiana.