02 July 2013

Helping FamilySearch at ALA 2013

Last weekend (June 27 - July 2) was the American Library Association conference in Chicago, Illinois. FamilySearch emailed local Family History Center Directors and Consultants, inviting any interested volunteers in the area to participate at their exhibit hall booth. I jumped on the opportunity.

Can you spot the FamilySearch sign?
In the past couple years, I have often been amazed at how involved FamilySearch is with the larger community. It was only in the past year that I learned that FamilySearch attends non-genealogy conferences like those of ALA and NAGARA. The library community loves FamilySearch. One example of FamilySearch's work that happens behind the scenes became especially evident to me during the conference. I met the manager over FamilySearch Books and learned that he was there to build relationships. I had assumed that all the FamilySearch employees at the conference were manning the booth, but he only came over for a few minutes between his networking efforts.

During the last hour things slowed down and I made a tower out of these leather FamilySearch bookmarks.
Many attendees came up to me at the booth to express their gratitude for our services. I volunteered all day Saturday and after having an amazing time that day, I went back for half of Sunday. We promoted FamilySearch.org for personal use, and other FamilySearch resources. We also offered information about becoming a FamilySearch affiliate library and being able to receive our microfilms. Our 4-6 volunteers/staff were often all speaking with people at our booth. Our 8-10 computers running FamilySearch.org were mostly all in use at several points.

It was fun for me to feel like an insider and talk with some employees of FamilySearch who contribute so much to our genealogical community. I was pleased about the location of the conference, and the opportunity to go to the building that bears my surname. I was even pleasantly surprised to recognize other volunteers that I did not expect to see. If you ever have such an opportunity I highly recommend it.

Out of all the places I could take my picture with my surname... :)

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