Once upon a time, if you wanted an obituary from Minot, North Dakota, you had two choices. Find the address of the local library and send them a letter and wait and hope. Or spend a bunch of dough to take a long trip.

Today, most public libraries have an e-mail question service, which will provide basic answers for minimal fees.

To go to the Minot Public Library, click here: mplpage_07

To go to our own Ask the Librarian: ask_librarian

The web provides other opportunities for long distance information gathering. If you know about a book that almost certainly has a crucial answer in it, but you can’t lay your hands on the book, go to Books We Own, a group of more than 1500 volunteers who have listed their personal libraries and are willing to do free lookups for you.

If you need a research task done in a distant location, go to Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness and find a volunteer near the distant site who will do the job for you for expenses (photocopying, postage, etc) only. The Family TreeMagazine.com Forum, also has volunteers who will help. Look for the Volunteer Corner topic.