Friday's Faces from the Past: Celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Karen Kalopulu Family History Lock-in

This year we are celebrating a decade of lock-ins from when the idea first came to the then Family History Librarian, Karen Kalopulu.

Back in 2004 Karen Kalopulu proposed the idea to library management saying that, although the ‘concept is new to libraries in New Zealand’ there are ‘many libraries in United States of America which have strong family history collections hold[ing] very successful lock-ins’.

Since Karen sadly passed away in 2009, the lock-ins have continued under the leadership of Family History Librarian Seonaid Lewis.

Family historians and aspiring family historians start arriving during the afternoon of the last Friday of August, working overnight on their family histories and helping other people with theirs, until leaving at 8am the next day.

The lock-ins have been a collaboration between Auckland Libraries and the New Zealand Society of Genealogists (NZSG), who have supported this venture right from the very beginning with their volunteers contributing to the expert knowledge available on the night. The event has proven to be great fun, we have all learnt so much from each other and have made some good friends along the way.

There are a handful of customers and NZSG volunteers who were at that first lock-in and are still coming today.

The inaugural Lock-in group, 2005.

Geraldene O’Reilly, the NZSG president of the Irish Interest group, has attended every single one of the lock-ins, helping many a fledgling search their Irish ancestry.

Geraldene O'Reilly busy at work.
The format Karen started has carried on, with a few unavoidable tweaks along the way.

Before the evening kicks off at 8pm there are the options of a tour of the Central Auckland Research by Seonaid and then a seminar on some subject, whether it’s Scottish family history or, as it is this year, beginning your New Zealand family history.

The night begins with Seonaid leading a 'meet and greet' and then the library staff  NZSG volunteers share their areas of specialty.
A happy researcher!

We then hit the computers, Microfilm readers and books and the momentum continues. Flagging souls help themselves to coffee and snacks in the library atrium and we are all revived with pizza at midnight.

Some succumb to a nap, in a cosy nook but it is amazing, with kindred family historians around and lots to share and learn, how the buzz keeps you going.

There have been many eureka moments:

I finally found something that could possibly lead to more information on my maternal grandmother's birth - the first really good lead in 25 years!

Came away with some exciting information it was certainly well worth it.
Can't wait till the next one.

I got so much information on the night that I am going flat out working out what I need to do next.

I managed to stay awake all night much to my surprise - the time seemed to go so fast.  I found a really good skeleton in my mother's side of the family so was very happy.

As Karen said in her proposal, back in 2004, ‘a family history lock-in is an opportunity to promote the Auckland City Library and it’s family history collection in an innovative way and provide a platform for Auckland City Libraries to work collaboratively with the New Zealand Society of Genealogists on a venture that both organisations are passionate and enthusiastic about.’

We are looking forward to more great research and sharing in August 2014. To register for this year's event, click here for more information.


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