RUSA Guidelines for Instruction in Genealogical Librarianship


Prepared by the Genealogy Committee of the History Section (HS) of the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) of the American Library Association (ALA). Originally prepared as Guidelines for a Unit or Course of Instruction in Genealogical Research at Schools of Library and Information Science 1995, Revised 2004 and 2007, approved by the RUSA Board of Directors, January 2007. Revised 2002. Approved by the HS Executive Committee, March 2022. Approved by the RUSA Professional Resources Committee, 7/7/2023.


These guidelines serve faculty members who design and/or teach a genealogical librarianship course, or who include such content in a broader course. In addition, those who provide continuing education to library professionals in the area of genealogical resources and services can use these guidelines to identify appropriate topics.


Effectively meeting the information needs of genealogy patrons requires specialized knowledge and skills. Librarians serving genealogy patrons should be trained to assist patrons in becoming information literate in genealogical research. These librarians need to know how to assist patrons in achieving their genealogical goals of locating, evaluating, and recording information. They should be able to familiarize patrons with basic genealogical research methodologies and how to formulate research questions and a research plan. Depending upon library policies and procedures, these librarians may provide limited genealogical research services. They are also expected to be able to assist researchers in navigating the broader environment of historical and genealogical resources and services, including referrals to other repositories and societies. Librarians serving genealogy patrons have a role in collecting, preserving, and making accessible materials needed for effective genealogical research, and may collaborate with volunteers and organizations such as local historical and genealogical societies in achieving these goals. Practical instruction in genealogical librarianship prepares public, special, and academic librarians to better serve genealogy patrons by developing such knowledge and skills.


RUSA Guidelines for Instruction in Genealogical Librarianship (PDF)