If you’re like me, researching your family history has been one of those fascinating pastimes that has always seemed just out of reach. There are about a million different places to start and just as many different ways to get overwhelmed. Without a little guidance, it’s easy to write off genealogy as one of those projects that are just too big for one person.

We in the Z. Smith Reynolds Library wanted to change that. We wanted to convert hesitant researchers like me into knowledgeable, confident family historians. To do this, ZSR collaborated with the fantastic librarians at the State Library of North Carolina to create a free online genealogy course, RootsMOOC, which is now open for enrollment to the first 5,000 learners who sign up.

Interested? Sign up here! http://bit.ly/RootsMOOC

Through video interviews, tutorials, discussions, and structured learning activities, we’ll learn the very basics of genealogy research, such as the best places to get started, how to stay organized, and what kinds of documents and search tools you’ll encounter along the way. We’ll all share our research progress and help each other overcome roadblocks as we share our best tips and tricks in the online discussion forums. Librarians, archivists, and other experts from North Carolina and around the United States will be participating right alongside us, answering questions and pointing us all in the right direction.

If you’ve been looking for a place to get started on your family history research, RootsMOOC just might be the thing you’ve been waiting for. We can’t wait to get started!

When does the course start? How long does it last? RootsMOOC will run from March 23 to June 1, 2015.

How much does it cost? Nothing! RootsMOOC is 100% free!

How much time will I need to devote each week? That depends. We feel that the best way to learn is by doing, so we encourage all participants to do their own research concurrently with the course. This might involve calling up family members, visiting physical libraries, and diving into online repositories, all of which can take some time. There are no grades, however, so you’re free to spend as much or as little time on this course as you like.

How do I sign up? Enroll here.

What if I find I can’t keep up with the course? No worries. Life is busy! If you find that you’ve fallen behind, you’ll always be able to go back to the course later. The discussions might be closed by then, but all of the content should still be there. If you want to drop the course altogether, it’s easy to do that, too.