Public libraries hold a wealth of information and if you plan what you want to look for before you go, you can save yourself time by being prepared before hand, instead of working that out when you get there. This kind of planning can also make the trip more successful.
Find the website for your local library and firstly check to see if they have a section for genealogy / whakapapa / family research as some libraries have a dedicated section for this, which makes things easier to find. and on the webpage about this will outline the resources that they hold. If they do, have a look at what they have and also check the rules. In some places you can only use pencil, or are not allowed to take photographs. Knowing what you can and can not do before you arrive means that you do not get a shock.
If they do not have a section explaining the kind of records they do hold, search the library catalogue. Some sites do not list if they have microfiche of church records and some do. If they do, they will have information such as Call Number or Location and you need to record these before you go so you know exactly where to go for what. It is alot easier showing a librarian these details, as well as the name of the resource you are looking for as they usually know exactly where to go once they have the that information. Also, do random searches for key words that pertain to your whanau, for example placenames – there may be a book from the school jubilee for that area, or the marae name, iwi name and even a search for the word whakapapa – you never know what can turn up in the results.
Check the library site to see if they have free access to Ancestry.com which is called Ancestry Library on some sites. If you can not find that information on the library site, give the library a ring to find out. If they do, go to ancestry.com and do searches there for people you want information for. While this is a paid site you can search for free but you will not be able to view the details. Take a note of the search terms you used, then when you visit the library you know exactly what to search for when you are using their Ancestry access and there you will be able to view the details.
When you get to the library, try not to get distracted by all of the other goodies you can stumble across as then you may end up not finding what you started out wanting to know in the first place. Prepare individual research plans for people that have information that you want to find and group them together. For example, you may want to find when more than one person was born, so you need to look for either birth or baptism records. This will help you stay focused.
Finally, record everything you find, either by writing it down, getting photocopies or taking photos. There will always come a time when you want to check something and if you have the details or copies of the records, it saves you having to go back again for the same information.