Sunday, April 18, 2010

Digital SGS?

I called a meeting of people interested in SGS's digital future on Wednesday evening. It was a pleasant surprise when a dozen people showed up. They represented a wide range of SGS experience--from 40 years' membership to a newbie. 
My assumption going into this meeting was that we'd discuss and prioritize what SGS publications and papers should be digitally scanned and indexed to make them more available. Much to my surprise, the people attending shifted the discussion to our library and the fact that we don't have a complete, comprehensive, searchable, online catalog. At least for those in attendance, it was quite clear that getting an accurate catalog of our holdings is much more important than scanning and digitizing. So...that's our first priority.
A side topic of this discussion was whether or not SGS should place our library holdings on WorldCat. WorldCat is a global network of library content and services that allows users to identify library holdings across the continent. It's not clear what the costs and benefits would be of joining WorldCat, but certainly it would be a lot of work. You can bet this will be a topic of discussion in the coming year.
I hope to be able to schedule a time to start the library inventory soon. The consensus at the meeting was that we should use our existing Procite database as a starting point, since it's already in a digital format. We know it's not complete, but at least it's a starting point. So, first step is to export that database into a format we can import into a spreadsheet or database program. Then we'll develop an inventory form and schedule one or more work parties. If you'd like to participate, please let me know []. If you've got ideas to share, please click on the Comments link below.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

How can SGS benefit from the digital revolution?

Sometimes it seems to me that SGS is missing the boat; the digital revolution has left us behind. Yes, we've had a website for over 10 years, but in my opinion, it really can't compete with those of other genealogy organizations. Many societies have years of digital publications--both newsletters and research/article-rich pubs--available on their websites. Some have iploaded large searchable databases, like area cemetery records or vital records, to their sites. Still others have full library catalogs, searchable family group sheets submittd by their members, and numerous other types of searchable records available on-line. Many genealogical societies limit access to these records to their members only; others let anyone access them.

What should SGS be doing? Should we be scanning and indexing records currently in our possession? Should we offer records to someone else [like Ancestry, Footnote, or FamilySearch] to digitize? What should come first? How should we proceed? Where will we find the volunteers, equipment, and funds to do this? I was digging around in some cabinets at SGS the other day and "discovered" about a dozen notebooks/folders of family group sheets submitted by our members in the 1970s and 1980s. Most have no source information. Are they worth scanning and indexing? Could they help someone break down a "brick wall"?

I've scheduled a meeting for this Wednesday evening, April 14th, from 7 to 9 pm, at SGS for people interested in making SGS more "digital" to share ideas and discuss what we should be doing in this area and how we should be doing it. If you're interested in this topic, please come. If you're interested and can't attend, please email me your interest []. The number of people who show up on Wednesday and/or email me their interest will determine how we proceed.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

It's Election Time

First, a big THANK YOU to all of our members who have already returned their ballots. Second, if any SGS members are reading this and have not received their ballot package yet, please either call the SGS office at 206-522-8658] or email me [] and we'll mail one out to you. They were delivered to the bulk mail facility a week ago [Monday, March 29th], so if you're in the Seattle area, you should have it by this Monday [April 5th].

I have to say that it frustrates me that we don't have multiple candidates for each officer/director position. Heck, we don't have ANY candidates for two positions--Treasurer and Director of Volunteers. Why is this? There are some obvious reasons. Some of our members feel they're too old to serve on the Board. Other members are still working full-time and raising families. Many of our members dedicate their volunteer time to other organizations. What about the rest of you? SGS could sure use your help!

We will be including a volunteer form with your membership renewal form this year. Yes, I know. SGS has done this before and nobody ever called. I've heard that many times and even experienced it myself. But we are no longer the "old" SGS. This Board realizes how much we need more volunteers and the active involvement of as many of our members as possible. I will go out on a limb and guarantee you that IF you fill out this year's volunteer form and provide accurate contact information, you will be contacted by the end of July. If we don't have a Director of Volunteers by then, I'll go through the forms and contact you myself. Granted, it will probably be by email [I'm not a big phone person], but you WILL be contacted.

If you haven't sent in your ballot yet, please take some time to read the proposed Bylaws revisions and think about what is being proposed. It would be great to receive ballots from at least half of our members. Will you help make that happen? Please? Thank you.