In 1955, the founders of the Dallas Genealogical Society set out the goals for the society in its charter. Among these was the objective “to assist and support the Genealogy Section of the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library in Dallas, Texas, or to its legal successor.”
When the new downtown library building was being planned, the Dallas Morning News, in an article by Henry Tatum on 4 Aug 1977, called the downtown site the “Central Research Library” and stated that then mayor Robert Folsom distributed to the council materials describing the need for a research facility.
The current proposed Dallas City Council budget plan will severely limit access to most floors of the central library. Floors 3 through 8 will be open Thursday through Sunday for a total time of only 24 hours. These floors make the central library the prime research library for the city of Dallas. None of the branch libraries provide the resources found there. The central library will open floors 1 and 2 Tuesday through Sunday, as if this part were a branch library. In addition, the central library staff will be reduced by nearly half. All staff who shelve books will be let go, leaving reference librarians to do
this work instead of answering patrons’ questions.
Reduced access and staff for the Genealogy section of the library will hinder research efforts. Many of the other floors provide resources used by genealogists and other types of researchers. Among these are:
- History/social science (8th),
- Texas/Dallas history and archives (7th),
- Government publications and maps (6th),
- Business and technology (5th), and
- Humanities newspaper collection (3rd).
The reduction in hours also hampers community use of meeting rooms located on 3rd, 5th, 7th and 8th floors, making scheduling of available rooms more difficult.
Even if you do not live in the City of Dallas or are not a member of the Dallas Genealogical Society, you are in a decisive position to provide the Dallas City Council with information on the value of the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library as city budget cuts are being debated.
Individuals from outside of the city who use the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library for research bring revenue into the city of Dallas in the form of parking fees, meals at restaurants, shopping at near by stores, and sometimes hotel stays. They also donate funds for acquisitions, participate in fundraising events and donate volunteer hours to the library. These activities would be hampered by reduction in access to the research materials there. Now is the time to make your needs known to the city council.
For information on contacting the mayor and city council, click on the url below: You will be taken to a City of Dallas site where you can e-mail the Mayor and All Council Members, or select any individual council member. City Council District 14 covers the physical location of the downtown library.
Please make the effort to contact the Dallas City Council before the proposed changes to the downtown central library are implemented.
Dallas Genealogical Society Board