Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Post Conference Review -- RootsTech 2014

Please read the comments, if you can't figure out what I am talking about.

Me: "You see, there was this big conference in Salt Lake City, Utah for genealogists sponsored by FamilySearch."
Local Genealogist: "Oh, did they hold it in the Conference Center?"
Me: "No, it wasn't. It was at the Salt Palace, a big convention center. They had all these vendors there showing their programs and such."
Local Genealogist: "When did it happen?"
Me: "It was from February 6th to the 8th this year."
Local Genealogist: "Oh, I wonder why I never heard anything about it? We are having our own genealogy fair this month."
Me: "Oh, do you know if they are going to incorporate broadcasts from RootsTech 2014?"
Local Genealogist: "Oh, that conference. Is that what you are talking about? They said they would have some videos from FamilySearch, but I didn't know that was what it was. Did you go to the conference?"
Me: "Yes, and I also gave one of the presentations that was recorded."
Local Genealogist: "I haven't heard about the program for our genealogy fair. What did you talk about?
Me: "I gave a presentation on blogging."
Local Genealogist: "I don't read any of the blogs, I don't have time for that kind of thing. I haven't decided if I should go to the genealogy fair, I need to get my hair cut that day."
Me: "Well, RootsTech 2014 had a whole lot of presentations and they recorded 44 of them and translated them into 10 different languages and there are over 622 local genealogy fairs scheduled around the world."
Local Genealogist: "I don't really keep up with all that stuff. By the way, I have a question about my Personal Ancestral File Program, do you know anyone who can help me with the program?"

I was reflecting on our modern society where you can be the most famous person in a special area of interest and outside of your specialty, no one has ever heard of you. This came about as a result of listening to an audio recording of a book called:

Brown, Daniel. The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. 2013.

Here were these nine men who won gold medals and I, for one, had never even heard about the event, much less could have named even one of the participants. 

OK, so we had this conference in Salt Lake in February. Outside of a few people I happen to know locally who either went to the conference of listened to parts of it online, I haven't found anyone, even regular genealogical patrons at the Mesa FamilySearch Library, that seem to know anything about the conference or even care to find out about it when I bring up the subject. Even at the Salt Palace, they were getting ready for another scheduled conference as we were leaving RootsTech. 

Today, I noticed online that the announcements for RootsTech 2015 have started to pop up. 

Sometimes, even when I am in a crowd at a conference, I suddenly realize that as soon as I leave that crowd of people, I will once again be out in the cold, harsh wind of reality where genealogists are few and far between and no one wants to talk to you about what is going on in genealogy or your research or anything. This last Sunday, I was visiting out of state (yet again) and tried to get a conversation going at Church with no luck at all. 

It is a good thing that any motivation I have for doing genealogy is not based on support from my extended family and friends. But it is nice to have a wife who is actively involved in genealogical research in her own family and at least knows what I am talking about. Maybe it is not too early for FamilySearch to start promoting RootsTech 2015.


  1. Hi James, I visit the Mesa FHC, but haven't had the opportunity to meet you, I would have enjoyed it. I hope your move is going well. During my visits to MFHC, I find I'm best to answer my own questions. They are a wonderful group of people whom are collecting names, and putting them into the computer. I was prepping for Rootstech and my trek to the SLC FHL, and the response when I was asking a question was, "you know more then we do" because I was planning on going to a convention and to got to Main FHL. I sighed... and thought... go about your quest, get the roll numbers, thank the staff and be on my way. I understand they are volunteers, and not necessarily fluent in the genealogical search. However for someone coming into the library for the first time, I would think this would encourage them not to return, due to the lack of available knowledgeable help.

    1. I have heard comments such as yours many times. But when visiting any library or other similar repository, it is important to know how to ask for help. The first person you talked to at the Mesa FamilySearch Library may not have been a volunteer or missionary for very long. If the person you are talking to does not seem to know the answers to your questions, you should always ask politely if there is someone else who could answer the questions. On every shift, there are usually a few very experienced people. However, they may be helping other patrons and not be immediately available. I'm sorry I missed the opportunity to meet with you. I will miss working at the Mesa FamilySearch Library a lot.

  2. Our stake had heard that we were supposed to hold a genealogy fair, so at the first planning meeting we created a framework and brainstormed all the things that needed to happen, started to form committees, scheduling, etc.

    A couple of days later I was reading Ancestry Insider and found out that FamilySearch has all the planning already done, down to a timeline, registration, even printing the promotional materials. None of us had any idea.

    The resources are comprehensive and helpful, so it's good that we know about them now!

    1. Interesting. I would guess that whoever signed up for the Fair should have known about the support material. But maybe not.

  3. One of the people there had heard something about signing up something somewhere, something to do with RootsTech, but didn't know where or how, and after puzzling for a minute concluded that it didn't have anything to do with what we had been asked to do by the stake, and had no idea about any of the resources.

    There was evidently a communication failure somewhere along the line. However, a handful of stakes in my area are registered in the system, so I'm not sure who should have known what, and how. I'm certainly not getting any information from FS besides what's on their blog. (How would I?)

    1. This is one of the biggest challenges faced by FamilySearch: communication.

  4. I'm glad you are keeping this issue in the forefront! My session at RootsTech was also one of the 44 recorded, and I kept having to explain to people the purpose behind the recording....but it made me very cognizant of how we could use these videos with our local audience once I returned home. I signed our institution up right away when I first heard about the fair opportunity (back in August of 2013/FGS). We then chose to have the fair in early March, one month after the Feb conference.

    From a non-LDS point of view, the planning packets are geared toward LDS facilities/events only, so we really didn't have access to any promotional material. I really wish they had some available, even for signage, but I'm confident they will develop this as the program progresses over the years.

    From an awareness standpoint, our state genealogy group has several who made the trip to SLC and the real RootsTech conference over the past few years, so we had many who knew what it was. As the family history fair (video presentations) got closer, we branded this as a RootsTech hosted event, which helped them grasp the bigger picture. We even chose to show one of the keynotes as an intro session, which demonstrated the excitement and energy of the real RootsTech conference. When we were finished with our fair that day, several had mentioned they would now like to make plans to attend the conference in it was very educational for them! Again, the FamilySearch staff was awesome to work with, I just wish we had a non-LDS packet for advertising/signage. Here is a post we wrote about our Family History Fair experience in March:

    1. Thanks for the additional perspective. I have been wondering how these local fairs are going.