As most know, I was recently named an Official Blogger for the National Genealogical Society (NGS) conference to be held in St. Charles, Missouri (local host: St. Louis Genealogical Society) in mid-May. I am looking forward to it for many reasons including the strong program with many great choices, meeting some old and new friends and rooming with my good friend Karen.
This is my third NGS conference, having attended Cincinnati three years ago and Richmond last year. I remember being slightly overwhelmed at the first one and thought that first-timers and even “multiple-timers” might appreciate some tips about “Conference Survival!” Since we are six + weeks in advance of the conference, this first post focuses on the things you can do now to enhance your experience.
- Download the mobile app. I love this app. I loved it so much back in 2013 that I encouraged another national organization to which I belong to use it also! I have an iPhone so I went to the App Store for the download. You will find it by searching for “National Genealogical Society.” Here is the link: http://conference.ngsgenealogy.org/attend/mobile-app/ This year they have added some tool tips–hints for how to use the app. They can get irritating for experienced users. You can turn the off. Did I say I love this app?
- Once the mobile app is downloaded, start reviewing all the “Sessions” options and make some selections now. You can browse by day or by track–switch back and forth. You can develop “My Schedule” by clicking on the star. Do not worry if you have 5 selections for one time slot; you can add more or remove them at will. For now, your inclusion of these on your Personal Schedule will be great reminders of what you might want to attend. You will, of course, have to narrow it eventually to one. That’s the tough part but luckily not something you need to do now.
- NGS is live streaming 10 lectures split between two tracks for $65 each or $115 for both (members). Track One is “The Immigration and Naturalization Process” and Track Two is “Methodology Techniques.” There are two reasons you might sign up for this package–1.) you cannot make it to the conference and this is a way to virtually attend 10 of the lectures and 2.) you are attending but are anticipating a conflict with other sessions you want to attend. Last year I elected to buy one track. I did not attend these lectures at the conference knowing I could watch them at home. You will have four months of access after the conference. You can find more about this option here: http://conference.ngsgenealogy.org/attend/live-streaming/
- If you haven’t made your hotel reservation, you are out of luck on the most economical options. The conference site lists the hotels with available rooms here: http://conference.ngsgenealogy.org/attend/accommodations/ . I don’t see a “roommate wanted” list this year. You might want to use you own resources to identify compatible roommates. Don’t forget vrbo.com and airbnb.com. I used the former successfully when my options were few.
- If you do not tweet, learn how now so you understand the power of the tweet! Conference hashtag is #NGS2015gen and you can start following it now. The most immediate updates will be delivered using social media.
- Sign up for the conference blog–this will get you real-time information about the conference. Right now each blog posting is highlighting a different repository, speaker or exhibitor. Just enter your email address in the left sidebar and hit the subscribe button. You can unsubscribe whenever you wish. http://conferenceblog.ngsgenealogy.org
- Speaking of research…if you plan on doing some research while you are in the area, make your research plans now. Identify the time you have available and which repositories you will visit based on your research question/problem. Check out their online catalog and the hours/days of service. Maybe even give them a call. You do not want to arrive and find they are closed. Start gathering your supplies, get your equipment repaired or purchased, and/or take a class on how to use that new laptop even more efficiently. The blog has been reviewing the holdings of different repositories in the area. If you are not sure which repository to go to for the information you seek, you might read some of the past postings.
- Load into your smart phone or tablet the apps you will be needing for travel, messaging, or research. My favorite app is Finescanner! Finescanner facilitates you taking a sequence of pictures using your iPhone or iPad camera (sorry, Android users–not available) and then assembles the jpegs into one PDF document so your can read them in Evernote or Good Reader! No more individual jpegs for this girl!. (When I published this post, it was free at the app store.) If you use your camera on your phone as a photocopier, then you may find this of help. If you pay a little more you can get OCR but the reviews are not universally ecstatic. https://itunes.apple.com/app/id534203582. I am not a heavy app user but I also use Google maps, Word (for notes), weather, clock (it’s my travel alarm), Famviewer (has my genealogy database), Booklist (my library–so I don’t buy a book I already have), Evernote & Dropbox (to store documents) and Uber (so I can get a ride even when the cabs are busy.) You might check out Shoebox for receipts as well.
One more thing… When at the conference, I challenge you–at least once a day– to thank one sponsor (just stop by the booths) and one volunteer. Without the sponsor’s financial support and the volunteer’s gift of time, the NGS conference would not be as wonderful experience for us attendees as it is. So, thank a sponsor and thank a volunteer! Better yet–when the call for volunteers goes out–volunteer. It’s easy and fun.
I am getting excited just writing this blog!
If you see me at the conference, don’t hesitate to come up and introduce yourself. I would love to meet you.
What I have done since the last posting: I had outpatient surgery and am doing terrific. Worked on my syllabi for the next two presentations the first part of April–also checked the websites for each presentation. We are ready to go. We have received 8 submissions for the SGS Family History Writing Contest–first ever. I am very excited. We modeled this after the Southern CA GS Family History Contest. Thanks to SCGS for running such a great program and granting me permission to track our program so closely to theirs.