Thursday, September 3, 2009

Day 3 in Little Rock

The Exhibit Hall opened this morning. What a treasure trove of goodies! I tried to make a quick circuit of the exhibits between 9:30 [when it opened] and 11:00 [first session after the keynote], but only hit about half of the exhibits. All of the big genealogy companies are here--Ancestry, FamilySearch, Footnote, NEHGS, NARA, World Vital Records. I hit up a few of them for possible donations for our fall seminar raffle. Hope they come through!

After studying the FGS Conference schedule last night, I decided that I should focus on listening to presentations by potential future speakers for our SGS seminars today and tomorrow. I started with a presentation by George Schweitzer on "US Migration Routes and Settlement Patterns, 1607-1890." Ol' George is as entertaining and informative as ever, dressed in his frontier garb. Also heard "Tracing Scots-Irish Ancestors" by Dean J. Hunter [informative but very dry] and "Genealogical Applications of Historic GIS" [great slides; very informative; but very academic delivery]. Last presentation of the day [5-6 pm] was by Curt Witcher, a librarian with the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, IN and member of the FGS Board of Directors, on "Future Possibilities with Digital Libraries." Curt's presentation style and content were fantastic, but pretty depressing from the standpoint of generating revenue from our SGS Library. Literally hundreds of thousands of books and manuscripts are being posted to free websites around the world. If you haven't already visited them, check out a few of the sites he mentioned:
Allen Co. Public Library has already contributed over 7000 titles from their collection to Open Library.

Ancestry is offering free scanning today and tomorrow, so I lined up this morning to get a 15-minute time slot. By 2:45, when my time came for scanning, they were running 30 minutes behind. I was going to have them scan a few pages of our 1980 SGS publication of the Washington Donation Land Claims, to see if we might publish a digital edition. The scanning staff offered to scan the ENTIRE book for me if they could do it overnight. Needless to say, I accepted their offer. I should receive a USB drive with all 250+ pages on it tomorrow morning. Such a deal....for free!

I've now been "adopted" by the contingent from the Dallas Genealogical Society. We're all staying at the same inexpensive hotel about 1.5 miles from the conference center and they took pity on me being "all by myself." I was shocked to learn that they draw fewer than 100 to their annual seminars...and that they almost always lose money. Guess we must be doing something right in Seattle!

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