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Will They Still Come? An Archivist's Reflection:

A wall of the Pennsylvania Room of our library, with portraits of past archivists and genealogists

Our library's Archivist, Jennifer Baer Hurl, shared this reflection at this month's Writers' Group session. I was impressed, and asked if I might share this as a post on the library blog.

Jennifer presides over our Pennsylvania Room, which houses local history and genealogy resources. Genealogy/local history services have been part of our library since its early days. The Pennsylvania Room wall displays portraits of those who guided those efforts through the years. People still come from near and far to learn about their Somerset County ancestors. But the world is changing, and Jennifer wonders . . .

Will They Still Come?

I greet them. From Maryland and Ohio, Virginia and New York.

And I can’t help but wonder. Five years from now, will they still come?

I greet them. From Kentucky and Kansas, Illinois and Iowa.

And still I wonder. A few decades from now, will they still come?

I greet them. From Florida. Michigan. Utah. Nebraska. Georgia and Oklahoma.

And I wonder. When I, too, am dead and gone, will they still come?

Will they still wish to visit this place of books and binders, files and film?

Will they still want to sit at this table and hold these things in their hands?

Will they still wish to read those family stories tucked away inside these cabinets?

Will they still search for that one name or date that can’t be found inside a computer?

Will they still wish to stand at their ancestor's grave and reflect on a time long gone?

Will they still come? … I hope.

Will they still care? … Because I do.

Will this room and all it holds still exist?

If not, I hope I, too, am by then like those who surround me here.

Only a story. Waiting to be shared. If only they’d come.


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