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Reference Services | Local History & Genealogy

Reference Services

Here at Brooks Free Library we offer complete reference services to all patrons. Our Reference Desk is fully staffed by a professionally trained reference librarian and senior library technicians during the library’s open hours. Reference staff are available to help assist in your search process, answer questions, and make recommendations. Reference is located on the second floor of our building, and is available by phone at 508-430-7562 ext. 3.

In addition to helping you access informational sources our Reference team is also able to offer assistance with library materials and services. Let us point you in the right direction so that you can successfully make your way through the maze of information resources out there!

Here are some of the things we do at the Reference Desk:

  • Help you download an eBook to your device
  • Process an Inter-library loan request for an out of state item
  • Show you how to access Consumer Reports online or in print
  • Help you find quality, unbiased medical and/or legal information
  • Help you pull up a tax form on one of our public computers and print it
  • Have a conversation with you to help you decide which computer, tablet, or Chromebook would be a good fit for you
  • Give you a referral to another town department, agency, or organization that can give you the information you need
  • Help you with local research including finding old town reports, newspaper articles, and historical information

Local History & Genealogy

The Reference Desk is a great place to start your research into local history or genealogy. Here’s a look at some of the assistance we can provide for both topics.


HeritageQuest is a fabulous resource for genealogical research which you can use from the comfort of your own home. To log in, you will need to enter your library card number. If you do not have a Brooks Free Library CLAMS card, please contact our Circulation Desk. Call 508-430-7562 ext.1 or email brooksfreelibrary@clamsnet.org.

For Researchers

While our reference staff are happy to point researchers in the right direction, intensive individual assistance in researching family history is outside our scope of practice. If you think you will require considerable support in your genealogy search we recommend contacting the Cape Cod Genealogical Society located at the Dennis Public Library or the Eldredge Library Genealogical Department in Chatham.

Newspapers & Town Reports

The digitized Harwich Independent (1872-1949), Central Cape Press (1949-1958), Cape Cod Republican (1862-1864), Orleans Record (1902-1917), and the Harwich Oracle (1991-2007) newspapers are available at: https://brooksfreelibrary.microsearch.net.

The Brooks Free Library keeps a copy of the Harwich Historical Commission 1992-1993 Survey and inventory of historic homes (also found on the Massachusetts Cultural Resource Information System website). Ask at the reference desk for other resources in researching older homes.

Our collection of Town of Harwich annual town reports 1866-2017 has been digitized and can be found online at https://archive.org/details/brooksfreelibrary

Special Collections

We have a special collection of books by Cape Verdean authors and about Cape Verdean experiences and history that is available for check out from our Cape Verdean collection.

Our Cape Cod collection includes many Joseph Lincoln books and other older Cape Cod related titles. Non-fiction titles related to Cape Cod can be found in several different locations on the second floor so be sure to ask at the Reference desk if you can’t find what you are looking for.

Harwich Historical Society

The Harwich Historical Society is also a wonderful resource for local history. They have a large collection of historic photographs as well as files on many historic houses and buildings in town. For more information about the Harwich Historical Society visit their website at: https://harwichhistoricalsociety.org/

Contact the Reference Department

Got a question? Our Reference Desk can be reached at (508) 430-7562 ext. 3 or by email at brooksreference@clamsnet.org. Reference staff will respond to you as soon as possible depending on workload and staffing