02 February 2014

My path to RootsTech 2014

I have been excitedly reading all of the blog posts of people who are leaving today for the RootsTech conference in Salt Lake City. I am excited to go also but I am afraid I am not as prepared to go as some of the official bloggers.

I live about a half an hour north of Salt Lake in Ogden, Utah. My wife and I plan on staying in Salt Lake on Wednesday and Thursday night. She will be leaving on Friday morning to help get the kids situated I will ride the train home on Friday night and drive down on Saturday morning.

I feel prepared for the weather, where to eat, how long it will take to get around, etc. But I am feeling the pressure of being unprepared for the conference. I have lived within 40 miles of Salt Lake City for my entire life and I have only been to the Family History Library three times. (Yes, I am ashamed to admit it.) On only one of these visits did I find records that I was looking for.

It is kind of like skiing for me. I have only been skiing a few times in my life and I have not been skiing since I got married. In Utah of all places, the greatest snow on earth! However unlike skiing, I have found myself in a digital world of genealogy. Not that the Internet can solve all of my genealogical problems but I have have been gathering information in an Internet age.

I have gone to the Ogden Family History Library several times. I have search through books and taken classes. The last time I went down, I was asking about finding records in the library. I really feel like I am missing the 'old school' knowledge that many of the teachers and volunteers there have. I was armed with the information from my Brick Wall ancestor and I really wanted someone to take a look and give me a suggestion of where to look for more information. As I asked around they pointed me to the best person to guide me. He is a South-Eastern United States specialist and a 'wiz' on the computer.

As we were talking, he guided me back to a computer to look for information. Each step he took was one I had done at home. I felt like I knew these files almost as well as he did. By the end of the evening I learned:
  1. I was pretty up to speed with the Internet resources that were available.
  2. That my brick wall was not going to be torn down in a evening.
  3. That the Ogden Family History Library spends a lot of time teaching people how to use a computer and how to use online sources.
  4. That the majority of people who are looking for help are either youth who are inexperienced with genealogy or people 10-20 years older than me who are inexperienced with computers.
  5. Those who are my age in the building are spending a significant amount of time teaching.
As I was leaving, one of the directors came up to me and asked if I found what I was looking for. I told him that I had learned several things that I did not know before. I suggested to him that they teach classes about non-Internet based resources that they have available. He said that they teach a class on Tuesday mornings at 10 am -- If I only were retired.

RootsTech seems right for me. A mix of technology and genealogy that I can learn form those who know more than I do. I hope I can maximize my time at the conference and learn things that will give me direction for the next year.