Wednesday, August 15, 2007

FGS Conference - Day One

As mentioned in my post on Genealogy Conferences for the Carnival of Genealogy, I'm attending the FGS Conference in Fort Wayne this week and today was the first day of the conference. The printed Syllabus is probably about 650 pages (637 pages covering the sessions and the rest is advertising and informational pages). I'm sure it doesn't weigh more than a couple of pounds but after lugging it around this morning it sure seemed like it weighed at least 10 or 15 pounds! I left it in my car at lunchtime and probably won't be taking it with me the rest of the week either. Too bad they can't provide it on a CD or make it available for download to paying attendees.

Anyway, it was 'Society Management' day but there was also a Librarian's track as well as the APG Professional Management portion of the conference. "Societies Going Virtual" was the topic of the keynote address by David Rencher, former FGS President. His premise was that societies must shift from a paper centric model to a virtual one and that societies are going to be challenged by this change. Societies need to find some way to serve the needs of distance members as well as local members while maintaining the viability of their society regardless of the type of society, whether local, regional, national, ethnic, etc. In addition they must adopt some of the new technologies such as on-demand publishing, email newsletters, webinars, podcasts, social networks, etc. to help meet those needs. Essentially, his message for societies was "Go Virtual or Perish!"

The lecture I selected, out of the six available, in the next hour was "The Role of the Genealogical Society in the 21st Century" which was presented by Jana Sloan Broglin. I've had the pleasure of hearing Jana speak several times before and she always puts her own unique spin on things. Jana essentially picked up where David left off with some specific ideas for publishing, programs, and society websites and what they can offer members.

In the following session, since I'd heard some of the other lectures (or similar ones) at other conferences, I chose "Where is the Book with My Family in It?" presented by Drew Smith. Drew is an engaging speaker and showed several ways to find out what may have already been done on the families you're researching. Resources such as the Family History Library, the Library of Congress, and WorldCat as well as local libraries, Google Book Search, online bookstores, and PERSI can all be used to help locate those previously published family books.

During the lunch break a lot of people went across the street to the Allen County Public Library. The Genealogy Center was quite busy, to say the least. After the two-hour lunch break, I started the afternoon off with "Inform, Promote, and Expand: Keeping Your Society's Website Alive" with D. Joshua Taylor. Some of the ideas he mentioned were virtual tours, a what's new page, research guides for your area, and finding aids.

Next up was Michael Ritchey who demonstrated a new feature that is being tested and evaluated as part of FamilySearch. You won't find information on specific individuals with this new feature but it is going to be a good tool for locating resources. It is still in the development and testing phase so it will be a while before it is available.

My selection for the final session of the day was "Seeking Your Comfort Zone As You Approach Different Repositories" presented by Paula Stuart-Warren. Although I have done research onsite is some courthouses and libraries outside of Whitley County, it has been a while and I've never ventured into some of the larger repositories. I thought Paula's lecture would be a good refresher, and I was right. Basically, advance preparation is the key to a successful research trip. Be not afraid to go where you've never been before!

I chose not to attend the Open Forum scheduled for 7:00-8:30 p.m. since it's an hours drive from the Library to where I live...

Well, as I was just going through the syllabus looking at the various sessions that are scheduled for tomorrow, several pages separated from the binding. It's a large soft-bound volume and bending the spine to get it to lay flat probably didn't help any! I'm thinking maybe I'll just go ahead and separate the pages for tomorrow sessions and punch holes in them to fit in a small 3-ring binder, at least for those sessions where I'm having a tough time deciding which lectures to attend!


Jasia said...

Thanks for posting about the conference, Becky. I appreciate hearing what's on the minds of those who are in a position to effectively influence the many conference attendees. I'm so glad they are beating the drum about societies needing to go virtual. We need more voices to get the message out to the slow-to-change societies before it's too late and they disappear because of dwindling membership. Now where have I heard that before ;-)

Terry Thornton said...

Thanks, Becky, for the "virtual" summary of your day at a genealogy conference. Glad to hear that several are touting the necessity of digital. Maybe one of these days I'll get up my nerve and attend one of these things --- the list of sure-drawn topics at Cow Hampshire the other day got me to thinking. . . LOL!

Becky Wiseman said...

Thanks for the comments Jasia and Terry.

Jasia - I definitely agree with you (and the speakers) that societies need to change to keep up with technology. One of the issues that will have to be dealt with is the members that don't have email or internet access and how to deal with their needs while moving the society into the 21st century.

Terry - I'd love to attend a conference put together by Janice, especially one with those topics. Wouldn't that be fun?