How to Access’s Library Edition from Home

Amy Staff Image

Now that you some time at home, how about starting on those projects you’ve always said you were going to work on? Projects like researching your family history? Hmm?

To help you out with that resolution, we’re happy to report that’s Library Edition will be available from home, for free, for all Allegheny County library card holders until April 30! is the big name in family history databases. In it you’ll find census records, birth and death records, marriage records, immigration records, city directories, yearbooks… and that’s just the beginning. There are records from the United States and international records, too, so no matter where your family might be from, there’s probably something in there for your research.

BUT! Don’t expect your search to be as quick and easy as the “I used to wear lederhosen, but now I wear a kilt” TV commercials make it seem. Think of Ancestry as the “gateway database” that can get you hooked on a life-long hobby! Once you start researching your family history, be prepared to go down a very deep rabbit hole.

Your downfall – I mean, genealogical journey – starts with realizing it’s 2 am, and you’re still online looking at records. Then you’re calling relatives asking for family photos, documents, and stories. Later, you’re planning vacations around places your ancestors lived so you can find records that aren’t online. And when you get your passport and book an international flight to the homeland? Welp, then you’ve got it bad. (No judgement. In fact, consider us your enablers in this process.)

All right, to get access to Ancestry through the library, go to and look for the main search bar. Make sure “This Site” is selected, and then type in the words: ‘Ancestry’ and ‘Library.’ Click the purple magnifying glass to search.

In the search results, click on Ancestry Library Edition, either the title or the purple link that you’ll see. Once you click that link, you’ll be asked to enter your library card number (it’s the number underneath the bar code on the back of your card) and your four-digit PIN number. If you’re not sure about your PIN number, you can ask for help in the Library’s online chat tool.

The biggest difference between Ancestry’s Library Edition and a personal subscription is that you cannot build a family tree while using Library Edition. There are also a few sets of records in the subscription service that aren’t in the Library Edition, but that hasn’t been an issue for the researchers we’ve helped in the library.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing search tips and other help for using Ancestry and other family history sites that are accessible from outside the library. There will also be the opportunity for family history Q&A, so keep track of your questions as you’re getting started. We’ll answer everything the best we can – keeping in mind that not every record is online, so there might be times we get stuck.

For now, give in to the temptation of clicking that big green “Begin Searching” button, and see what you can find out about these people you’re stuck at home with for the next few weeks!