When was the last time that you thought about the genealogy books assembled in your home? If you don't have a genealogy bookshelf or two, perhaps it's time to start building a collection. A recent conversation with another genealogist reaffirmed the importance of having a genealogy library at your fingertips.

Some genealogists may have concluded that a solid genealogy guide that walks family historians through research paces is sufficient. But that's like believing that if information genealogists seek is a source, they should be able to uncover it.

Trust me. It ain't necessarily so.

Family historians frequently miss information because they lack a deeper understanding of the sources they are using. The best way to acquire that deeper understanding is by reading what experts who have written books about them are saying.

Genealogical reference books can focus on a particular type of information source such as censuses, deeds or tax records. They also can discuss how women or some ethnic groups are or are not represented in certain kinds of records and why. The information in them should be helpful whether researching in a brick-and-mortar repository or one found on the Web.

Each genealogist's home library should reflect the depth of research he conducts, the ancestral homes he studies, the ethnic populations he focuses on and the technology he frequently uses. But all libraries should include a book or two on records that are common to every state and where to find them.

Some of the books most family historians can use many times include "Hidden Sources" by Laura Szucs Pfeiffer, "The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America (10th Edition) by George B. Everton and "Evidence! Citation & Analysis for the Family Historian" by Elizabeth Shown Mills.

Begin assembling a collection by surveying the books available for genealogists on Web sites such as genealogical.com, ancestry.com, heritagebooks.com and ngsgenealogy.org (click store) and searching the Web for genealogy bookstores and checking their inventories.

Note the books that might help you for years to come based on your own research. Check with genealogy buddies or reference librarians to ensure the books you note are what you expect before purchasing them. If you can't afford to buy a book new, visit bookfinder.com and check the used book titles periodically to see if it shows up.

Reach Wevonneda Minis at 937-5705 or wminis@postandcourier.com.