Home

About the Library

 

Pay Fines Online
Federal Depository Library

You are here

Frequently Asked Questions

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

Questions about Library Services and other General Information

  1. Where can I find library phone numbers and hours?
  2. How do I access the Library's databases from home?
  3. How can I find an article from an old issue of the Buffalo News or from other local newspapers?
  4. How can I borrow an item if the Library does not own it?
  5. How do I book a class visit to the library?
  6. May I photograph Library material?

Questions regarding the humanities and social sciences

  1. Where can I find contact information for Federal government officials and offices?
  2. Where can I find information on contacting individuals in the armed services using the Internet?
  3. What is the official bird, flower and motto for New York State?
  4. What is the proper way to display the American flag?
  5. Where can I obtain copyright forms?
  6. What newspapers can I read at the Central Library? How long are they kept?

Questions regarding business, science and technology

  1. Where can I find product reviews?
  2. Where can I find the value of a new or used car?
  3. Where can I find the contact information for a manufacturer or company's customer relation's department?
  4. How can I check on the reputation of a company or charity or file a complaint against a company or charity?
  5. Where can I find the best deals on credit cards, bank accounts or finance in general?
  6. How do I perform a patent search?
  7. How can I get information from the 2010 Census? Is it on the Internet?
  8. How do I find historical stock prices?
  9. How do I find a grant?
  10. Does the library have detailed automobile repair information?

Questions regarding Children's materials

  1. Where can I find my child's school reading list?

Local History

  1. When was Niagara Falls turned off?
  2. Which is the tallest building in Buffalo?
  3. When did the streetcars stop running in Buffalo?
  4. When did the Courier Express newspaper close?
  5. When was the last trip of the "Canadiana?"
  6. How did Buffalo get named "Queen City of the Lakes?"
  7. Where were Buffalo-style chicken wings first made

Questions Answered by the Grosvenor Room

  1. What are city directories?
  2. What Buffalo directories does the B&ECPL own?
  3. What about the towns, villages and suburbs?
  4. How can I get a page copied from a directory if I don't live in the Buffalo area?
  5. Does the Library have an obituary file?
  6. Aren't a death notice and an obituary the same thing?
  7. Did everyone who passed away get a death notice or obituary?
  8. How do you find an obituary or death notice?
  9. How far back do B&ECPL newspapers go?
  10. How can I get a copy of a death notice or obituary if I don't live in the Buffalo area?
  11. What if I do not know the exact date of death?
  12. Does the Library have the entire federal census?
  13. Does the Library have all of the New York State censuses?
  14. Can I make copies from censuses?
  15. What indexes does the Library have?
  16. What Soundex does the Library have?
  17. Can I borrow census films from the Library?
  18. Can the Library do census research for me?

Return to the AskUs page


Questions about Library Services and other General Information

 

Where can I find library phone numbers and hours?

For phone numbers, hours and directions for each of the 37 B&ECPL locations, click on the link to Libraries from the Library's home page. At the next page, click on the name of the desired library. To find libraries open in your area on a given day of the week, click on the link to Library Hours.

Back to Questions

How do I access the Library's databases from home?

Not all databases are available from home. Links to individual databases on the Databases Page will provide you with any necessary information about how to access these sources. You must be a current Buffalo & Erie County Public Library cardholder to receive database usernames and passwords. For information about how to obtain a library card, click here.

Back to Questions

How can I find an article from an old issue of the Buffalo News or from other local newspapers?

Microfilm
Issues of local newspapers on microfilm are located in the Central Library's Special Collections Department on the first floor. Prior to 1842, local newspapers are not microfilmed.

To find out more about the Central Library's specific newspaper titles, please call the e-Branch at (716) 858-8900.

More on where you can find microfilmed newspapers in Erie County can be found at the site of the New York State Newspaper Project (http://www.nysl.nysed.gov/nysnp/115.htm).

Electronic Access
Full-text access of the Buffalo News (1989-present) is searchable at any library in the B&ECPL system. For more information, see the Databases Page.

Back to Questions

How can I borrow an item if the Library does not own it?

If you have a valid Buffalo & Erie County Public Library card, you may contact the Interlibrary Loan department at (716) 858-8900. Interlibrary Loan will try to obtain the desired item from another institution. Please be aware that sometimes there is a nominal charge for this service. Learn more about Interlibrary Loan...

Back to Questions

How do I book a class visit to the library?

For visits to any area library, contact the library directly. For a list of area libraries, click here. For visits to the Central Library, teachers should contact the e-Branch at 858-8900.

Back to Questions

Questions Answered by the Humanities & Social Sciences Department

Where can I find contact information for Federal government officials and offices?

Use the National Contact Center's web site (http://www.pueblo.gsa.gov/call/).

Here you can find individual names, addresses, telephone and fax numbers, e-mail addresses, and web sites of government officials and offices.

Back to Questions

Where can I find information on contacting individuals in the armed services using the Internet?

The military has a number of methods to contact current and past servicemen and women. See the Federal Consumer Information Center's National Contact Center web page for more information (http://www.pueblo.gsa.gov/call/locating_individuals.htm).

Back to Questions

What is the official bird, flower and motto for New York State?

Bird: Bluebird
Flower: Rose
Motto: "Excelsior" (Latin for "Higher")

Source: http://www.50states.com

Back to Questions

What is the proper way to display the American flag?

"When the flag is displayed from a staff projecting from a window, balcony or building, the union should be at the peak of the staff unless the flag is at half staff.

The flag should be raised briskly and lowered slowly and ceremoniously. Ordinarily it should be displayed only between sunrise and sunset. It should be illuminated if displayed at night.

To place the flag at half-staff, hoist it to the peak for an instant and lower it to a position half way between the top and bottom of the staff. The flag is to be raised again to the peak for a moment before it is lowered."

Source: http://www.usflag.org/flag.etiquette.html

Back to Questions

Where can I obtain copyright forms?

The Central Library has frequently-asked-for-forms available for distribution and copying. Additionally, the Library of Congress's web site has a variety of forms that may be downloaded (www.copyright.gov/forms).

Back to Questions

What newspapers can I read at the Central Library? How long are they kept?

The following is the list of titles, frequency and retention of newspapers received by the Humanitties Department of the Central Library:

  • Atlanta Journal -- Sunday only
    Retain: 2 weeks
  • Buffalo News (Sunday Edition)
    Retain: until film arrives, about 2 months
  • Buffalo News (Sunrise Edition)
    Retain: 1 week only
  • Buffalo News (Late Edition)
    Retain: until film arrives
  • Los Angeles Times -- Sunday only
    Retain: 2 weeks / Book Review and Magazine sections processed separately as journals
  • New York Times -- Sunday and Daily
    Retain: until film arrives / NY Book Review and Magazine sections processed as journals
  • Rochester Democrat & Chronicle --Mon. - Sun.
    Retain: 2 months
  • Toronto Globe & Mail -- Saturday only
    Retain: 6 weeks
  • USA Today -- daily
    Retain: 6 months
  • Washington Post -- Mon. - Sun.
    Retain: Until film arrives / Book World and Magazine sections processed separately as journals

Back to Questions

Questions regarding business, science and technology

Where can I find product reviews?

From the B&ECPL's home page, select Databases then use MasterFILE Premier. When searching MasterFILE Premier, you will have access to full text articles of Consumer Reports going back to the early 1990s and citations back to the mid-1980s. If you wish to view earlier issues of Consumer Reports not available on-line, the Central Library has bound issues dating back to the early 1960s.

Back to Questions

Where can I find the value of a new or used car?

Use Edmund's (http://www.edmunds.com), NADA guides (http://www.nadaguides.com/) or Kelley Blue Book (http://www.kbb.com). Each of these sites contain vehicle values, consumer advice, road tests, safety information, product reviews and more.

Back to Questions

Where can I find the contact information for a manufacturer or company's customer relation's department?

Use the Consumer Action Web Site (http://www.pueblo.gsa.gov/crh/respref). Here you can find alphabetical indexes and lists of individual names, addresses, telephone and fax numbers, e-mail addresses, and web sites of consumer organizations, corporations, trade associations, and government agencies at the city, county, state and Federal level.

Back to Questions

How can I check on the reputation of a company or charity or file a complaint against a company or charity?

Use the Better Business Bureau (http://www.bbb.org). Locate a Better Business Bureau at this site you can search for company and charity reliability reports or file a complaint.

Back to Questions

Where can I find the best deals on credit cards, bank accounts or finance in general?

Use bankrate.com (http://www.bankrate.com). This site provides personal finance news; rates on interest, loans, mortgages, and credit cards, in addition to calculators to help you balance your budget, and general consumer advice.

Local rates are published weekly in Buffalo's Business First, a weekly business newspaper available at many B&ECPL locations. Please call (716) 858-8900 to find out if your library subscribes.

Back to Questions

How do I perform a patent search?

The best way to conduct a patent search is to visit the Central Library's Business Science and Technology Department. Knowledgeable staff can provide instructions on how to use the search tools available here.

To learn more about the service offered at the library call 858-8900.

To learn about the United States Patent & Trademark Office and how they help inventors, visit http://www.uspto.gov.

Back to Questions

How can I get information from the 2010 Census? Is it on the Internet?

The Library has printed copies of some local 2010 Census data, which answers common questions, but full census data is available on the Internet at http://www.census.gov. Not all data has been released yet, but will be available soon.

The New York State Data Center has taken 2000 Census data for New York State only and made it available on their web site (http://www.empire.state.ny.us/NYSDataCenter.html). The NYS Data Center has rearranged some of the data, so check both sites to find the table most appropriate for your use.

Back to Questions

How do I find historical stock prices?

Online
1970 to present - http://www.bigcharts.com/historical
http://finance.yahoo.com/

Print (in the Central Library's Business, Science & Technology Department)
1969 to present - Daily Stock Price Record - American Stock Exchange
1969 to present - Daily Stock Price Record - New York Stock Exchange
1969 to present - Daily Stock Price Record - Over the Counter Stock Exchange

Microfilm (in the Central Library's Microform Department)
Prior to 1969 Wall Street Journal (on microfilm)

Back to Questions

How do I find a grant?

Grants for Nonprofit Organizations
Use the Foundation Collection, a cooperating collection of the Foundation Center of New York, located in the Central Library's popular materials area on the first floor.

Grants for Individuals
Start at one of the Central Library's public internet terminals on the first floor, using the Foundation Center's Foundation Grants to Individuals database. Additional scholarship and educational grant information is available in Popular materials department. These databases can also be accessed at the Audubon, Collins, Kenmore, and Lancaster library locations.

Grants for Business
Grants to businesses are rare. If you need to finance a business, start in the Central Library's Small Business Collection in the Popular materials department

Back to Questions

Does the library have detailed automobile repair information?

The Audubon, Central, Hamburg, Kenmore, Julia Boyer Reinstein, and Orchard Park libraries have access to AllData Online, a database of shop manual-type information. In addition, the Central Library has a collection of manufacturers' shop manuals dating back to the 1950s. These manuals must be used in the library, so please call (716) 858-8900, to determine if your needs can be met.

Back to Questions

Questions Answered by the Children's Department

 

Where can I find my child's school reading list?

Some schools provide the Library with their class reading lists, which are posted on the B&ECPL web site. To find yours, click here.

Back to Questions

Local History

The following questions were answered using the Local History File, the library's index to local newspapers and scrapbooks. The Local History File is just one of many sources housed in the Special Collections Department of the Central Library.

Back to Questions

When was Niagara Falls turned off?

The Falls on the American side were completely dammed up in 1969 for a geological investigation of the rock strata. The dam was in place and water stopped on June 12, 1969. The dam was removed between November 25 and 29, 1969.

Back to Questions

Which is the tallest building in Buffalo?

The HSBC Building is the tallest building in Buffalo. It stands at 529 feet. City Hall is the second tallest at 378 feet.

Back to Questions

When did the streetcars stop running in Buffalo?

On July 1, 1950, there was a ceremony in which the streetcars were draped in funeral garb and escorted off by new buses.

Back to Questions

When did the Courier Express newspaper close?

The Courier Express closed on September 18, 1982.

Back to Questions

When was the last trip of the "Canadiana?"

1956

Back to Questions

How did Buffalo get named "Queen City of the Lakes?"

This name was used in the preface of the 1842 Buffalo city directory and was popularized during Buffalo's semi-centennial celebration in 1882.

Back to Questions

Where were Buffalo-style chicken wings first made?

The Anchor Bar at 1047 Main Street in Buffalo, New York.

Back to Questions

Questions Answered by the Grosvenor Room

What are city directories?

City directories are an important resource for genealogists and those interested in local history. Predating the invention of the telephone book, they list inhabitants of a city in alphabetical order by last name, giving an address and sometimes a place of employment. They are usually published on an annual basis.

Back to Questions

What Buffalo directories does the B&ECPL own?

1828, 1832-1844, 1846-1942, 1946, 1948, 1950-1953, 1955-1978, 1980, 1982, 1984, 1987,1989,1993, 1996 to present.

The Central Library's collection can be considered complete, because Buffalo directories were not published in the years missing from the above list.

Back to Questions

What about the towns, villages and suburbs?

In most cases, there were no city directories for the towns of Erie County until the 1950s. Suburban directories came out starting in 1957, covering more than one town. As time went on, more and more towns were included. The B&ECPL has:

  • Amherst : 1957 to present
  • Cheektowaga : 1957 to present
  • Clarence: 1991 to present
  • East Aurora : 1952, 1962 to present
  • Elma: 1996 to present
  • Grand Island : 1989 only
  • Hamburg : 1949, 1956 to present
  • Kenmore : 1924, 1931 to present
  • Lackawanna : 1960 to present
  • Lancaster : 1963 to present
  • Marilla: 1996 to present
  • Orchard Park : 1996 to present
  • Tonawanda : 1948 to present
  • West Seneca : 1963 to present
  • Colden, Collins, Concord , Holland , North Collins, Sardinia : no known coverage

Back to Questions

How can I get a page copied from a directory if I don't live in the Buffalo area?

For those who are unable to visit the Central Library to use the city directories in person, the Library offers a limited look-up and photocopy service. There is no need to prepay as an invoice with payment instructions will be included with the copy.

City Directories
Local $10.00 for a maximum of 6 lookups (includes copies)
Non-Local $30.00 for a maximum of 6 lookups (includes copies)
 

Telephone directories will be substituted if a city directory does not exist for the time period sought.

Charges apply whether information is found or not.

Back to Questions

Does the Library have an obituary file?

Not exactly; the closest is a card file in the Grosvenor Room called the Local History File. It is a newspaper index and lists articles about people, places, things and events in Buffalo . It is most comprehensive for the 1930 - 1982 period. It includes obituaries, but not death notices. A person has the best chance of being included if he or she was a well-known citizen who passed away before 1982. The Library has no source that lists all deaths in Buffalo or Erie County .

Back to Questions

Aren't a death notice and an obituary the same thing?

In short, death notices are classified ads and obituaries are news articles. Death notices are taken out by the family to announce a death and to inform the community where services and interment are being held. Obituaries are narrative articles about the passing of someone accomplished or prominent, written by newspaper staff and often accompanied by a photograph. In the computer era, obituaries are included in full-text newspaper databases and death notices are not.

Back to Questions

Did everyone who passed away get a death notice or obituary?

No. There is not a law that requires deaths to be announced in the newspaper. Death notices are mostly a 20 th century practice and are less common in 19 th century newspapers. Many poor families could not afford them. A person who died without next of kin might also have no death notice.

Back to Questions

How do you find an obituary or death notice?

While the library does not have a separate obituary file, it does have thousands of rolls of local newspapers on microfilm. Buffalo newspaper films are available only at the Central Library in the Grosvenor Room. No appointment is necessary to use microfilm. You may print from these films for $0.20 per page. Some municipal libraries have films of its local newspaper, but not the daily Buffalo papers.

Back to Questions

How far back do B&ECPL newspapers go?

While Buffalo 's first newspaper came out in 1811, the Library has Buffalo newspapers on microfilm from 1842 to the present. Papers prior to 1842 are in original bound volumes and must be seen by appointment in the Rare Book Room. Below is a link to a comprehensive list of Buffalo and Erie County newspapers are film and which area libraries have them:

Erie County (NY) Newspapers in Microfilm
http://www.nysl.nysed.gov/nysnp/115.htm

Back to Questions

How can I get a copy of a death notice or obituary if I don't live in the Buffalo area?

For those who are unable to use newspaper microfilms in person, the Library offers a limited look-up and photocopy service.

Death Notices/Obituaries
Local $10.00 per name (includes copy)
Non-Local $25.00 per name (includes copy)
 

Charges apply whether information is found or not.

Back to Questions

What if I do not know the exact date of death?

If you do not know the exact date of death, consider these suggestions:

1. If the death occurred after 1936, search the Social Security Death Index.  The index is most complete beginning in 1962, though some early deaths are listed.  If the death was not reported to the Social Security Administration, the individual will not be listed in the index.

Social Security Death Index
http://ssdi.rootsweb.ancestry.com/

2. Contact the municipality where the death occurred and request a copy of the death certificate. Here are two links to help with that process:

Town Clerks in Erie County , NY
http://members.tripod.com/~wnyroots/index-clerks.html

Date of First Vital Records in the Towns and Villages of Erie County
http://www.wnygs.org/erie-vr.html

3. If you know only the month and year of death, ask your local librarian to request that month's worth of Buffalo newspapers on microfilm via interlibrary loan. If you live outside Erie County, all Buffalo and Erie County newspaper films listed below may be ordered by your librarian for use in your local library. (The library must have a microfilm reader.)

Erie County (NY) Newspapers at the New York State Library
http://www.nysl.nysed.gov/nysnp/115.htm

4. Full-text of recent death notices (the last three months) and an index to death notices published in The Buffalo News since Sept.11, 1997 is searchable online for free at:

The Buffalo News Death Notices and Guest Books
http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/buffalonews/

 

5. Buffalo obituaries published since 1989 should be found in The Buffalo News full-text database, which is available for walk-in use at every public library in Erie County and available from home with a Buffalo and Erie County Public Library card. Out out-of-town users can search for articles on the The Buffalo News website, which charges for full-text articles:

Buffalo News Archives
http://www.buffalonews.com/newslibrary/

6. Consult the B&ECPL list of researchers to assist you. They are not affiliated with the Library and work for an hourly rate. The list is posted online at:

B&ECPL Local History & Genealogy Referral List
http://www1.buffalolib.org/libraries/collections/genealogy/referrals.asp#1

Back to Questions

Does the Library have the entire federal census?

The Library has access to all of the federal censuses online through Ancestry Library Edition and HeritageQuest Online, which are subscription databases. Ancestry Library Edition may be used at all Buffalo and Erie County Public Libraries. There is no at-home access. HeritageQuest may be used at all B&ECPL locations and from home if you have a B&ECPL library card. See the Grosvenor Room databases web page for tutorials on using the census records in HeritageQuest. The Grosvenor Room collection focuses on upstate New York and has part or all of the federal censuses for New York State on microfilm.  See our Census Record subject guides for more information.

Grosvenor Room Database Webpage
http://www1.buffalolib.org/libraries/collections/genealogy/databases.asp

Grosvenor Room Subject Guides (Click on the Census category.)
http://www1.buffalolib.org/libraries/collections/genealogy/subjectguides.asp

Back to Questions

Does the Library have all of the New York State censuses?

New York State performed its own censuses independently of the federal government, mostly in years ending in 5. See our Census Record subject guides for more information. Ancestry Library Edition includes limited state censuses.  Some state census records can be found on the FamilySearch website.  

Grosvenor Room Subject Guides (Click on the Census category.)
http://www1.buffalolib.org/libraries/collections/genealogy/subjectguides.asp

FamilySearch
https://www.familysearch.org/search/collection/list


Back to Questions

Can I make copies from censuses?

Yes, the Library's microfilm reader-printers make copies for $.20 a page. You can also print from Ancestry Library Edition and HeritageQuest Online for $.10 a page.

Back to Questions

What indexes does the Library have?  

In print, the Library has indexes for the federal censuses for New York State for 1790 to 1910. There are also indexes for a few other states and separate indexes for towns and villages in New York. Nearly all of the federal censuses for all 50 states are searchable by name at Ancestry Library Edition. To find what particular census is available where, click the following link and select the Census category:

Grosvenor Room Subject Guides
http://www1.buffalolib.org/libraries/collections/genealogy/subjectguides.asp

Back to Questions

What Soundex does the Library have?

The Grosvenor Room has Soundex (index) microfilms only for the 1880 federal census for New York State . The 1880, as well as other years 1790-1930, federal census for all states is searchable by soundex or exact name in Ancestry Library Edition.

Back to Questions

Can I borrow census films from the Library?

No, all census films at the library must be used in the Grosvenor Room. To borrow any census film, contact your local Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS). The LDS church maintains a network of free Family History Centers, which anyone may use to conduct genealogical research. You can request census microfilms from all over the US at any LDS Family History Center . For more information about the LDS, see www.familysearch.org.

Back to Questions

Can the Library do census research for me?

The Library offers a limited look-up and photocopy service. The Library will copy non-federal New York State Census records if the Grosvenor Room carries an index for the census, or if a specific name, county, locality (including ward and enumeration district if applicable) and page number or (family number) is provided.
The Library does maintain a list of local researchers who can be contacted to perform census research. You may consult a list of researchers not affiliated with the Library who can work for an hourly rate to assist you. The list is posted online at http://www1.buffalolib.org/libraries/collections/genealogy/referrals.asp.

Census
Local $10.00 for a maximum of 6 lookups (includes copies)
Non-Local $25.00 for a maximum of 6 lookups (includes copies)
 

Requirement: The Grosvenor Room must own an index to the census requested -OR- a specific name, county, locality (including ward and enumeration district if applicable), and a specific page number (or family number) must be provided.

http://www1.buffalolib.org/libraries/collections/genealogy/pdfs/SubjectGuides/NYCensus Microfilms and Indices_2010.pdf

 

Charges apply whether information is found or not.

Learn more about the Grosvenor Room's genealogy resources...

May I photograph Library materials?

Photographic reproduction of Library materials requires Library permission. If you intend to publish, display and/or profit by images of the Library materials you plan to photograph, you must complete the (AUTHORIZATION REQUEST FOR REPRODUCTION/LICENSING OF LIBRARY MATERIALS FOR PUBLICATION (PROFIT OR NOT-FOR-PROFIT) form. Please see the fee schedule for applicable charges.

If you do not intend to publish, display and/or profit by the images but require a photograph of library material for personal use, you need to complete the (AUTHORIZATION REQUEST FOR REPRODUCTION/LICENSING OF LIBRARY MATERIALS FOR NON-PUBLISHING/NON-PROFIT PURPOSES) form. Please see the fee schedule for applicable charges.

 

Didn't see your question here?

GO TO THE NEXT SCREEN TO ENTER YOUR QUESTION