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

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