2017 was my very first RootsTech experience. And frankly, after a great week in Salt Lake, I am feeling a bit let down, and overwhelmed. How could this be? Read on.
For those of you who have never heard of RootsTech, or attended RootsTech, it is – my God – genealogy heaven, or hell, depending on who you speak with.
Now I was lucky. Despite 40 years in genealogy as a hobbyist, I had a background for the event. Online, in the past couple years, I met some wonderful people who clued me into some basics of RootsTech survival.
The event is held in Salt Lake City, Utah, at the regional Salt Palace Convention Center, which is 500,000+ square feet of space, and they fill the building with attendees, amazing speakers and an exhibit hall to knock your socks off. Trust me – I have worked conventions before, and have seen some pretty bland exhibit halls. This one was jumping.
The conference this year started for general attendees on Wednesday afternoon, and continued through to Saturday afternoon. A separate track for professional genealogists and Innovators begins shortly before the main conference. They also have a beginners track that you can take, and they have a LDS track designed for members of the Church of Latter Day Saints.
Between the speakers, the exhibit hall, the people, the walking (any building that holds 30,000 people for an event is big, and it is long), and the standing and sitting and eating and meeting new and wonderful people, I was simply exhausted, but in a good kind of way.
Not only did I learn about new research tips, but I was able to evaluate the different genealogical web sites, try different software packages and learn about products and services that I didn’t know existed. Granted some of these were ideas that had crossed my mind with a “Why doesn’t someone…” thought. Well many of those were folks were there.
And every booth was staffed with people who want to see you succeed. Of course many also want to sell you something, but in the exhibit hall you get to see it, try and get a feel for it instead of gambling online with access to it. So you get access to stuff that you normally wouldn’t get if you just stay home.
How great is that?
Plus, if you plan your trip far enough into the future, you can arrange time at the Family History Library. While http://www.familysearch.org has an amazing amount of content, and databases, available to you, some of the collections are simply transcribed, and other records are inaccessible online. So if you have come across a document, or a lead, or something that you would like to see the original of, and you plan in advance (HINT: see where this is going?) you can arrange to have that roll of microfilm paged from the storage facility outside of Salt Lake, and brought to the library for you to look at.
Which brings me to the let down. I am feeling a bit overwhelmed and a bit lost. There was so much good energy there, that I miss it.
But you are asking “what about that Hell part you mentioned above?”
Well, if you don’t prepare for RootsTech, and you do no planning (none, zip, zilch) for your first visit to the Family Research Library, and you wait until the last minute to your hotel room, you not only will not enjoy yourself, but frankly, you are going to feel totally lost, a bit perturbed and worse overloaded with too much going on around you.
Moreover, you are going to come away feeling like you wasted your time and money.
Like in life, planning for RootsTech saves you time and money. Not planning means that you’ll find airfares outrageously expensive, the only hotel you can find is 10+ miles out from the Salt Palace and that you wear the wrong shoes and grind your feet into stubs.
And I certainly don’t want that to happen to you.
So what am I doing to fix my problem, and what am I suggesting to you, the reader? Start planning now to attend this event at the end of February, 2018. And get the most out of it by getting organized, NOW.
Here is what I am going to do to help you. Start this coming Friday, February 24th, and for the next four Fridays, I am going to lay out what I think you need to do to get yourself on the right track for a successful RootsTech experience. Then every Friday, I will post a reminder about how far out we are from the opening of registration.
In the interim, I suggest that you consider going. With a enough planning, and paying attention to your travel dollars, you can sock away enough money to pay airfare, hotels, and conference registration fees. And get a friend to go with you and split the hotel costs!
How great would that be?
It’s going to be a blast. That’s how great it is.