RootsTech 2013

I was fortunate to be able to attend the 3rd annual RootsTech Conference in Salt Lake City earlier this year.  I’ve been asked by a local society to give a brief talk about my experiences there.  I’m writing this blog article as a way to organize my thoughts and to share them more broadly.

The registration process was online and very easy to use.  I registered early to take advantage of early bird discounts.  I stayed at the Radisson Hotel Salt Lake City Downtown, adjacent to the convention center and about a block and a half from the Family History Library (FHL).  The hotel was great and the conference rate included a large and varied breakfast buffet.  I began each day very well nourished!

The free RootsTech mobile app allowed attendees to stay abreast of schedule changes and late breaking announcements.   The conference guide was available as a downloadable PDF file.  I ended up not using the file because the guide booklet (6” x 9” x ¼”) was so convenient to flip through.  Conference organizers also made the entire syllabus available for download.  In fact, as of today, it is still here .  Kudos to the conference and presenters for their willingness to share.  And speaking of sharing:  Videos of sessions and keynotes from 2012 and 2013 are available for your viewing pleasure.

I was a bit disappointed in the sessions.  The vast majority were marked “B” for Beginner or “E” for Everyone – whatever that means.  There were a few I-for-Intermediate sessions unevenly sprinkled throughout the schedule.  Some time slots had multiple Intermediate presentations and many had just one or none at all.  There were no sessions designated as Advanced.  As is typically the case at conferences, some session times had more than one talk I wanted to attend and others had none that excited me.

My favorite sessions from RootsTech 2013 were:

  • Eleven Layers of Online Searches at by Barbara Renick
  • How to Use Google Earth for Genealogy (workshop) by Lisa Louise Cooke
  • Digital Photo and Document Organization: Understanding Metadata (workshop) by Randy Whited
  • Can a Complex Research Problem be Solved Solely Online? by Thomas. W. Jones

The Expo Hall was large and jam-packed with interesting booths to visit.  I visited with OCLC, my former employer.  They announced that they will be including the FHL catalog in WorldCat, the union catalog that itemizes holdings at the world’s libraries.  I spent time learning about Evidentia, a new program designed to help genealogists organize their sources and analyze data.  I bought the program, but have not yet spent any quality time with it.  No conference would be complete without a visit with Leland Meitzler at the Family Roots Publishing booth.  I love books and never leave that booth empty-handed.  There were many other vendors – too numerous to mention – featuring their software, databases, charts, etc.  It was definitely exciting to see so many genealogical products and services.

Will I attend RootsTech again?  Yes and no.  I am not inclined to register for the conference.  Most of the sessions were too basic for me to get much out of them.  The Expo Hall was open to all without registration.  I wouldn’t mind be there to look.  This year the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) held their Professional Management Conference at the SLC Radisson on Tuesday and Wednesday before RootsTech.    I attended the PMC and enjoyed it.  My plan for next year is to go to the APG PMC and take advantage of the opportunity to share a room with someone going to RootsTech.  I could still visit the exhibitors, network with genie friends and do some research at the nearby Family History Library.

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Copyright (c) 2013, Beth Weiland Benko

Genea-Goals 2013 – Update

OK. The first quarter of the year is over and it is time to see how I am doing on my Genea-Goals for 2013.  Status in pink.

  1.  Blog more often  – at least 2 or 3 times per month – Haven’t done it.  This is the first post since I set these goals back in January!
  2. Attend RootsTech and the APG Professional Management Conference – March in SLC – The APG PMC was great — lots of wise words from Tom Jones and informative presentations by Judy Russell.  RootsTech was BIG — 6,700 registered attendees!  Maybe I should blog about these?
  3. Attend a national institute – Registered in my first-choice session, room booked, airline tickets purchased.  Can’t wait!
  4. Take the NGS Home Study Course – graded option – after the revised version is available in May – I just heard that the new course “American Genealogy Studies: The Basics” is in pre-release.  I will start this soon.  Right now I am working my way through the free NGS Family History Skills course.
  5. Speaking
    1. Prepare 3 more talks – have ideas for 2 new talks
    2. Present 10 times – have presented 3 times so far this year and have 3 more talks scheduled — one of them in 2014.
  6. Research trip to Allen County Public Library – planned for fall
  7. Apply for ProGen – not yet
  8. Personal Digitization
    1. Digitize old slides – Completed scanning of 600 slides inherited from my in-laws.  Dug out 16 slide carousels belonging to me and my hubby.  There are over 2200 slides!  Although I won’t scan each and every one, this could take a while.
    2. Digitize old (pre-2003) pictures – after the slides are finished.
  9. Marketing
    1. Change LinkedIn profile – not yet
    2. Edit APG listing – not yet
    3. Submit information for CCGS Speakers Bureau – did it
    4. Submit name for NARA researchers list – not yet
  10. Volunteer activities
    1. DPL – twice a month – check
    2. NARA – twice a month – check
    3. B’fld GS – Treasurer, maybe VP in FY14, organizing newspaper indexing project – check
    4. Boulder GS – Recording Secretary, Publicity – check
    5. CGS – Publicity – check
    6. * New * GGSC – delegate to Colorado Council – check

It’s been a busy first quarter.  I definitely haven’t paid enough attention to my blog.  Education activities are on track.  Scanning has taken more time than anticipated (~5 minutes per slide).  Volunteering is taking up a lot of time and energy.  I’ve been trying to sit on my hands when “opportunities” arise.  I’m hoping to have more of these goals check off next quarter.