6. Learn the Lay of the LandEach genealogical repository you visit is going to be slightly different - whether it's a different layout or setup, different policies and procedures, different equipment, or a different organizational system. Check the facility's Web site, or with other genealogists who utilize the facility, and familiarize yourself with the research process and procedures before you go. Check the card catalog online, if it is available, and compile a list of the records you want to research, along with their call numbers. Ask if there is a reference librarian who specializes in your specific area of interest, and learn what hours he/she will be working. If records you'll be researching use a certain type of index system, such as the Russell Index, then it helps to familiarize yourself with it before you go.
7. Prepare for Your VisitCourthouse offices are often small and cramped, so it is best to keep your belongings to a minimum. Pack a single bag with a notepad, pencils, coins for the photocopier and parking, your research plan and checklist, a brief summary of what you already know about the family, and a camera (if allowed). If you plan to take a laptop computer, make sure that you have a charged battery, because many repositories do not provide electrical access (some do not allow laptops). Wear comfortable, flat shoes, as many courthouses dont offer tables and chairs, and you may spend a lot of time on your feet.
8. Be Courteous & RespectfulStaff members at archives, courthouses and libraries are generally very helpful, friendly people, but they are also very busy trying to do their job. Respect their time and avoid pestering them with questions not specifically related to research in the facility or hold them hostage with tales about your ancestors. If you have a genealogy how-to question or trouble reading a particular word that just can't wait, it is usually better to ask another researcher (just don't pester them with multiple questions either!). Don't request records or copies just before closing time, either!
9. Take Good Notes & Make Plenty of CopiesWhile you may take the time to reach a few on-site conclusions about the records you find, it is usually best to take everything home with you where you have more time to examine it thoroughly for every last detail. Make photocopies of everything, if possible. If copies aren't an option, then take the time to make a transcription or abstract, including misspellings. On each photocopy, be sure to make note of the complete source for the document. If you have time, and money for copies, it can also be helpful to make copies of the complete index for your surname(s) of interest for certain records, such as marriages or deeds. One of them may later make an appearance in your research
10. Concentrate on the UniqueUnless the facility is one you can easily access on a regular basis, it is often beneficial to begin your research with the parts of its collection that aren't easily available elsewhere. Concentrate on original records that haven't been microfilmed, family papers, photograph collections, and other unique resources. At the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, for example, many researchers begin with the books as they are generally not available on loan, while the microfilms can be borrowed through your local Family History Center.