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Earlier this month five librarians from Belarus visited our library and archives as part of the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program sponsored locally by the World Affairs Council of Kentucky and Southern Indiana. The trip’s theme was “Strengthening Partner Libraries Role as Community Hubs in the Face of 21st Century Challenges.” Their stop in Louisville was the last stop on a three-week tour of the U.S. as part of this program.  Their itinerary included New York, Denver, and Washington, D.C.  Other libraries visited in the Louisville area include the Carnegie Center for Art and History, American Printing House for the Blind, and the Louisville Free Public Library.

Upon arriving to the SAR, Library Director Joe Hardesty gave the group a tour of the library and spoke about the SAR’s membership and vast genealogy collection.  As primarily public and academic librarians, the guests were not familiar with genealogical libraries and were very interested in our collection and the process of becoming a member.

After touring the library, Assistant SAR Center Director and Archivist Rae Ann Sauer took the group on a tour of the Mary and James S. Craik Special Collections Room, where she highlighted the SAR Charter signed by Theodore Roosevelt, the Articles of Association of 1774 signature page, and the James Craik miniature portrait on display.  Next, the group stopped by the SAR Digitization Lab where intern Sam Dunn was actively working on digitizing the SAR’s institutional archives.  The guests discussed digitization projects in their own libraries in Belarus. Lastly, Sauer gave a tour of the archives and closed stacks in the lower level of the library building.  She discussed the types of materials housed there including the society’s founding minute books, rare books, and microfilm collections.

The SAR staff greatly enjoyed sharing the SAR’s collections with an international audience of library professionals.  Learning about the similarities and differences of libraries in the United States and Belarus was a valuable experience to both parties.  The SAR Genealogical Research Library always welcomes an opportunity to expand its reach whether in the local area or as far away as Belarus!