Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Mind the Gap: Comparing Genealogy Associations to Other Info-Based Groups

In catching up on my blog reading, I came upon a post written by the CEO of the Special Libraries Association (SLA). This group serves information professionals that don't exactly fit in the traditional public, school or academic library settings. Members are often employed in businesses, legal firms, government agencies, museums or anywhere else a collection of materials needs to be managed. A lot of them are solos in their positions without a team or other peers. They do the research and the information management themselves. Some SLA members are also independent researchers for hire, much like professional genealogists.

The SLA blog post that stood out to me was the recap of 2012 events and accomplishments put forth by the group. Here is the link. Please read the post, then come back here so we can talk. Go ahead, I'll wait:

SLA in 2012: Laying the Groundwork for an Essential Association

So...what do you think? Do the statements, observations and intentions made there translate to the major genealogy associations? I'm going to pull some sentences from the SLA blog post to tell you what I think...

"An Essential Association"
SLA knows its value and tells us so right in the title of this post. Do major genealogy associations view themselves as essential? Do they walk the walk? I've seen them exist. Provide some value. But be essential to my genealogical life? No.

"The vibrant associations of tomorrow will be the ones...that stop speaking in nouns like conference, magazine and Webinar and start thinking in verbs like transform, renew and inspire." 
I often joke that if you want to see where genealogy as a field will be in five years, look at there the library field is right now. That humor never goes over well, but it's true. Genealogy just embraced Webinars in 2012, and they're already in the rear-view mirror at SLA. I'm not knocking the Webinar format, just saying that SLA has been using it for years. On the information highway, who is in the fast lane and who is traveling at 45MPH with their blinker on?

Does the genealogy community think in verbs? Do you want them to? You can probably guess my answer.

"(Our upcoming 2013 website) should be a go-to resource to help information professionals network, learn and collaborate...not a place to store items that are viewed and downloaded a handful of times each year."
I can think of some go-to/can't-live-without websites in genealogy, but none is an association website. SLA is making me want to be a member, because you know there will be some real treasures in that chest.

..."Our magazine, Information Outlook, (is transforming) from a printed publication to an online digital product that can be viewed on tablets, laptops and smartphones. (It) will be easy to bookmark, share and search, helping transform it from a static reference tool to a mobile resource for ideas and inspiration."
TAKE MY MONEY NOW! No, really. I'm still receiving printed genealogy publications in the mail with articles like, "Why you need an online presence." I've had an online presence since 1994. I want the digital product that will give me ideas and inspiration!

"The changes we're making are not one-off attempts to breathe new life into familiar products and services; rather, they are part of a comprehensive effort to redefine SLA, to change it from an association organized around a common profession and interests to one that enhances members' careers, their peer relationships, and their professional development."
The Special Libraries Association knows its members. It knows that they want. It knows what they need. It knows what to give them in order to become indispensable in their lives. They do speak in verbs. They continuously move forward. They are all about improving and ensuring that their members do, too. Collaboration is everywhere there.

How does this compare to the major genealogy associations? What do their end-of-the-year blog recaps say? Do they even have recaps? Do they even have active blogs? Do you see where I'm going with this?

Here's where I'm going with this:

1. It's time for professional genealogists to learn from other types of information professionals. There's much more in common than you realize. You can go outside the genealogy community to enhance your skills and development. You can also bring back to the genealogy community and share with them what you've learned.

2. There are significant gaps between major genealogy associations and those catering to other information professionals. Brand identity, self-awareness, technology adoption, forward thinking. Even the use of verbs.

3. Major genealogy associations, societies and individual professionals can all benefit from the examples in the SLA blog post. Really. I see so many takeaways that can be applied to genealogy. I hope you see them, too.

4. It's ok if you think I'm a nut job for the opinions I've expressed in this post. Just understand that Curt Witcher gave a fabulously inspirational keynote on innovation and meeting the needs of others at the 2011 RootsTech Conference. D. Joshua Taylor also gave a powerful speech on the need for genealogy organizations to be indispensable in their own communities at the 2012 Federation of Genealogical Societies conference. They used many of the action verbs also included in the SLA blog post. So if I'm crazy, then they're crazy, too. I'm taking everyone down with me.

I might be talking to a wall here. Maybe what I need and expect from an association when I hand over my membership dues is not what others need and expect. If so, that's ok. It's just that this SLA blog post really showed me the differences between A and B. There's a big gap there. Maybe it doesn't bother others as much as it does me.

Genealogy is part of the information highway. There are also lots of other subjects, fields and people on the same information highway. We are all going the same direction, but at different speeds and angles. Which lane are you in? Which lane do you want to be in? Me? I'm going to mingle with some associations and colleagues that speak in verbs and push my professional development into the high-occupancy vehicle lane. Beep beep.


  1. Words cannot express how much I love this post. Let's stop patting ourselves on the back for what a great job we're doing with helping professionals develop, helping newcomers enter the field, share information amongst ourselves, and all of the other things that we say we're great at. Because when it comes down to it, we are not walking the walk. But you already knew that...

    1. Thank you, Amy. I've felt this way for a while and seen the gap myself, but I could not find the words to convey the message to others. SLA's 2012 recap blog post was the perfect benchmark to illustrate the differences.

  2. Your post made me go and read the original post. I'm not sure what I am missing that you are seeing. Please bear with me.

    For all the talk of "walking the walk," what did SLA actually *do* differently, and what can (for example) APG *do* differently?

    They designed a new website that no one has seen yet. I think it best to reserve any assessment until the site debuts.

    They turned their magazine into a digital publication. I don't see how the format affects the content. Good content does not depend on an electronic over paper format (nor does bad content depend on the reverse). And, I might add, the APG Quarterly has released online issues for the past couple of years, with back issues going back even further.

    They introduced panel discussions at their conference. APG and similar organizations have sponsored panel discussions and luncheons at national conferences for years.

    To a certain degree, all change does begin with lofty words and phrases--but it has to be backed with action. While the SLA blog post uses a lot of visionary language, I must be missing what actual changes have occurred.

    As a member of the APG Board of Directors, I would love to learn a lesson from another organization as to how to better serve the needs of the members. Aside from inspirational catch-phrases, though, I don't see where SLA has offered any solutions.

    What actual *actions* can APG or any other genealogy organization take--based on the SLA model--in order to better meet the needs of the organization?

    1. Michael, thank you for the comment. I'm still trying to gauge my point of view on the spectrum of others, so I appreciate the commentary.

      I wasn't specifically talking about APG, but since you brought it up, we'll go with that.

      I liked the SLA post because it talked about accomplishments and vision. If I'm going to hand my dues over to a group, I want to know where it's going with my money. Where is APG's 2012 recap? What's on tap for 2013?

      Why is APG membership essential to my development? The directory is free to view. Also my clients and jobs come from elsewhere, so a listing in said directory doesn't entice me. I loved the addition of webinars in 2012, but again I can view those live as a non-member. I don't think the website has changed in years and it's clunky on the navigation end. Why is it essential to members?

      The PMC is nice...if you can get there. What about the majority of members who can't? Where is the value in the PMC for them?

      If there are exciting things happening, then tell us. Often. Use all those social media channels APG has, but usually keeps quiet.

      You're right, "lofty words" should be backed with action. I want to see action in the genealogy community. Not just keeping the machine going every year, but improving it, tweaking it and trying new things.

      I'm not going to reserve judgement until I see the new SLA website. I'm thrilled they're doing it. Even if it needs improvement, it's action. Movement. Forward. I don't see APG walking the walk but instead standing the stand.

      Please know that I'm not one of those who complains but won't work for the change. I've tried on several attempts to volunteer but my requests were not answered. That's fine, but no one can say I didn't try.

      I suspect that I have different needs and expectations out of a professional-level organization than most members of APG. That's ok, and that's why I'm extending my network to meet my own professional genealogy needs.

      Judging by the feedback I've received, however, there are many other people who want their own associations to be "essential" in their lives. They want to hear those lofty words that describe the ambitious plans ahead. They want board members and leaders to give them a reason to hand over their dues year after year, not just send a reminder and demand payment. In terms of your own group's members, you'll just have to decide of APG does that for them.

    2. What can APG do? Offer a streamlined website. Offer a blog with inspiration and real examples of great professionals.

      When I was a member of APG (I no longer am) I never once got a speaking engagement from APG. All of my clients come from my blog or from word of mouth. I also maybe read one or two articles by George Morgan in the APG Quarterly that I found truly insightful, helpful, and engagement. And I am not surprised that it was George Morgan that wrote the articles - cause George Morgan is AMAZING and I love him.

      The only thing I truly get from APG is the chapters - but each chapter is differently. I love the SL chapter and feel that I've gotten a lot from them and truly been able to improve my webinar speaking skills (which is SO different from in person speaking).

      I've never attended the SoCal chapter because the meetings are a bit of a drive from my house.

      But the bottom line is, I don't see what APG gives me. I see what the individual chapters have given me, and I'd be happy to put my money there. But with APG as a whole? I don't see it.

      Going to the PMC is difficult. The webinars are free for live viewing. The APGQ is so-so in my opinion. And I never got clients from the database.

      But just because APG doesn't fit my idea for an investment of my limited dollars, that doesn't mean that it doesn't work for others. Clearly, it does, because there are lots of members. But it just doesn't work for me.

    3. Thank you for the comments, Amy & Elise. I note that they mostly concern what APG is doing "wrong" (maybe too strong of a word) with what we are doing.

      You asked what makes APG essential. To my mind, it is not any of the activities that APG sponsors or accomplishes--though I do greatly appreciate these.

      What makes APG essential to my business and my professional development is the membership.

      When my work takes me to a new area (whether geographic or otherwise), I reach out to members who work in that area. In some cases all I need is advice; in other cases I may hire them to find something onsite for me.

      Inversely I have gotten a number of clients--not through the APG directory, but either directly from members or through referrals from other members.

      Discussions on the APG Members-only Mailing List often touch on very important subjects about being a professional genealogist. Not just the research side, but such business topics as marketing, taxes, etc.

      To me, a professional organization can provide very little from the top down. The rest is up to us as members to reach out and network with other members.

      From this perspective you can only get out of it as much as you put in.

    4. Elyse --

      You and I are on the same page about the web site and APGQ, and we're working to turn them around. I would be interested in your thoughts on the last two issues of the magazine.

      The Q does have a regular feature profiling 2-4 professionals "up close and personal." I would be curious how those fell short for you of the inspiration you would find from a similar feature in a blog. George Morgan is a real workhorse of a contributor, and I've benefited from his columns as a speaker. You didn't mention that the Q in the past has had occasional articles from Elizabeth Mills and Tom Jones that aren't available elsewhere.

      I think it is fair for professionals to ask what APG gives them. But as professionals it is also fair to ask what our professional members are contributing to it. Our dues are *much* lower than SLA's dues. We depend immensely on volunteers -- officers, board members, and committee m embers -- most of whom are crazy busy in their own lives as well (especially since few of us have actual old-fashioned jobs). In the past APG has not been as open to volunteers as it should be (I have my story and others have theirs). That is changing. As one board member I would be very interested to see a proposal for a revitalized blog. We do have a new monthly newsletter to speed up communication and hopefully to let people know what's going on at the national level and where they could help. Oh, I almost forgot -- we do have a revitalized chapter-support committee, and several new chapters, so hopefully that situation will be improving too.


  3. My jaw is dropped. This was *AMAZING*! I think I've had an epiphany: The reason I don't get all excited and enthusiastic about genealogy societies and associations. It's because they don't light my fire. They don't inspire me. They don't make me feel like I'm truly learning.

    And honestly, I don't want to have to convince people that having a website with good information is vital and critical. I want people that get it. Cause if they get that, then they get me.

    This post is amazing! Totally exactly what needs to be said (and heard) right now.

    1. Thanks, Elyse. Like I told Michael above, your comment helps me define the spectrum. Some desperately want vision and forward-thinking, some do not. I'm still trying to figure it all out to see where I land in the forest of others.

    2. I think the same can be said of 'non-professional' genealogy societies and even (I hate to say it) Family History Centers outside of Utah. The genealogy blogging network and Google searches are my source of inspiration, education, and more. I don't see the point of joining some society to get a discount on local research or access to books that can be obtained elsewhere. I'm not a professional genealogist, but I'm fairly certain I wouldn't join an organization that didn't effect my bottom line or wasn't essential to my personal development. Money is tight and if there is no tangible value for an association, I'm not giving them my dollars or free time (to read/be involved).

      I agree with Elyse... if something doesn't light your fire, it's not worth your time.

  4. Amy -- Thanks for introducing us to this organization, which I had never heard of. I agree that we don't learn as much as we could from allied groups, and I'll watch the SLA site and see what they actually *do* that could apply to APG, BCG, or ICPAGen. I'm not sure whether they would have the recipe for general-purpose genealogy societies. Heaven knows they are slow (trust me, I'm on the board of one!) but their constituency is not primarily professionals. Keep us posted. -- Harold

    1. Hi Harold, general purpose societies can glean more than you think. Societies are like businesses. The have a product and they need to be out there marketing it to their customers and potential customers. Tell them the plan for 2013 (which means you have to come up with a plan for 2013). Promote the "products" of the society and dazzle members with new offerings. Professional or not, all groups have members and a need to keep the numbers up. This is not a revelation on my part. It's been the essential theme for the last two FGS conferences. I just showed how another group outside of genealogy used the same approach.

    2. Amy --

      If you tried to volunteer at APG and got no response, I think that's inexcusable. Period. As long as I'm on the board, if this should happen again let me know and I'll get you an answer. (If this happened within the last year or so, as a board member I would appreciate learning -- privately -- who you tried to contact.) APG has been stodgy that way -- I had the same problem a few years ago. The new administration under Kenyatta Berry has opened a lot of things up but we have a ways to go yet.

      I agree that a review of the past year and a look ahead would be great. The people I know who could do them are overwhelmed, so right there we need a knowledgeable volunteer! This is the kind of thing I would imagine in the Quarterly, and hopefully we will have a new editor there soon. But the Quarterly is too slow for a lot of things, and now we have a monthly newsletter that can be a lot more responsive.

      We have discussed a good bit whether webinars should be for members only or not, and which ones. Would you join if we made them all members-only?!

      As for collaboration, I'm not sure we're so bad on that. People share problems and knowledge on the members-only list all the time. Our members-only LinkedIn presence is new but it already has some lively discussions. We'll see how it goes. Do these count as collaboration? Or are we just not using the right buzz words about them?

      And sometimes being "essential" is something that's not in our hands. The Transitional Genealogists Forum serves some of the same purposes of collaboration, and it's open, not part of any organization at all. But APG can't make it go away just because we would like to be essential.

      Just some thoughts -- and I didn't want you to think that APG is totally complacent about these things.

  5. My sense is that professional genealogists adapt pretty well to change, as do a percentage (perhaps 20%) of non-professionals. One significant problem is that boards of local genealogy societies are usually the ones who don't want to change. Many of the local society leaders and members have no clue about technology - they struggle with email. They don't do seminars, conferences, webinars, online searches. They go to local society meetings for the social time and to hear the speaker.

    Transform, renew and inspire are great words...I've been struggling to do this at my local society for 10 years, and it's pretty much the same 20% every month who at least attend and share and learn.

  6. I know, Randy, believe me I know. Every FGS conference has the same tales of woe. I just wish people understood that 1. change is good and 2. change doesn't always mean technology. A change could be a new type of genealogy program, reaching out to a different population, adding a new column or layout to the newsletter. There's just something about the word "change" that shuts folks down.

  7. Thanks for taking the initiative to spread your ideas Amy. I'm inclined to agree with Harold that there's a significant difference between SLA catering to full time professionals and most, not all, genealogical societies with mostly an amateur/hobby membership. Change, needed, must take place in a way as to gently encourage along, not alienate, those who are more set in their ways and look to our societies as a socialization opportunity as well as a genealogical one.

    1. Though the audience is different between SLA (full-time and part-time professionals) and a local/state/regional genealogical society (mix of professionals and hobbyists), the goal for each to be a thriving, growing, active organization is still the same. The only way to grow your society is to understand your members *and* your potential members. Too few societies, IMHO, really they know who their members are and what they want; even fewer societies have any clue about what potential members want. If you can't figure out both of those, your society is doomed.

    2. JDR, I think you're getting hung up on the word "professional." Change is necessary in all groups and organizations, especially ones that depend on dues. Change does not have to alienate people. If you see my response to Randy above, I offered several no-tech ways to improve and make positive changes.

      While it's true you don't want to upset current members with change, how many potential members have you lost out on because there is no change? How many potential members don't join because they think the word "society" is intimidating and for someone other than a hobbyist? You'd be surprised at the losses that accumulate when you focus on a small group who might be upset and ignore a larger group with more dues for the pot.

  8. Upon a suggestion by Harold Henderson I drove my roving eye over to this blog to view some of the comments. Some I find most interesting while others are not quite so interesting. I have been a very active member of APG for about 20 years and have supported it 100%. I have never gotten a speaking engagement from APG mostly because I have not been pressing to get a speaking engagement. My desire is to be a good quality genealogical researcher and I have realized that goal.
    Keep up the good work goes out to Michael Hait, Harold Henderson, and Amy John Crow.

  9. Harold wrote: "If you tried to volunteer at APG and got no response, I think that's inexcusable. Period. As long as I'm on the board, if this should happen again let me know and I'll get you an answer. (If this happened within the last year or so, as a board member I would appreciate learning -- privately -- who you tried to contact.) APG has been stodgy that way -- I had the same problem a few years ago. The new administration under Kenyatta Berry has opened a lot of things up but we have a ways to go yet." To this I write, "You have to be Kidding!" I don't think I need to elaborate. The problem that I see and that a few have tried to convey is that the organization caters to beginning or non-professional genealogists. That's ok, but professional genealogists need more and that is what Amy is referring to in my opinion. Other than the local chapters, there is not a lot of need for what is in the APGQ, at the Practice Management conferences, etc. The lectures at national conferences are mainly for beginners. They are not geared towards those who make their total living from genealogy and genealogy-related businesses. I appreciate Harold for letting the APG Members' list know about Amy's comments. I realize that Harold and Michael don't see the need for anything more than what is already being done. I find that interesting. Organizations of any type need to have greater vision for the good of the whole rather than assume that there is no need for improvement or new blood running the organization. Having an organization that is essential to the members is a great idea to me. How to do that when the group is so diverse will mean having to expand the focus of APG to make it essential to all.

    1. Michael Hait and I both believe that APG needs to change and improve, as should be clear from our posts on this blog, including the portion quoted by Jeannette.

    2. Jeanette, As usual you have misrepresented what others have said. Neither Harold nor myself said that APG doesn't need to do more. We have asked "what more can be done?" I agreed to serve on the Board of Directors of APG specifically so that I can help to make positive changes.

    3. Michael, there has been a misinterpretation. The point is to make the organization an essential organization to all. It will be interesting to see what new ideas the APG Board comes up with to be more inclusive to the entire spectrum of genealogy and genealogists. Since the APG group is for multi-specialties within genealogy, there will need to be a broader range of focus - rather than just catering to beginning genealogists or those making the transition to become professional genealogists. Catering to those groups is good but there does need to be more for the long-time professionals.

  10. Thanks for your thoughtful blog post, Amy. While I hadn't thought of noun vs. verb before, that really helps describe why a couple of my best genealogy learning experiences of the recent years are stand-outs:

    - CGSL (Calif. gen. society & lib) seminars - encourage interaction and "doing", e.g. "Stump the Panel" sessions where a panel of 3 experts do real-time online searches and suggest offline research ideas, and all attendees can learn from and ask questions about process, as well as add to panel's suggestions. Or German research seminar, where instructor contacted each registered attendee a month before session, and via email with each individual, did a THOROUGH review of what already known and sources, then suggested and assisted in research for a month, capped by 15-minute one-on-ones preceding seminar for specific questions, then seminar recapped general German research tips and each participant added tips from their experience, which generated a couple of further assists from other attendees.

    - Thomas MacEntee's explorinars and tools webinars - Thomas has a great style and pace to allow webinar attendees real-time to download or register for each tool and try out features as Thomas presents, as well as get thorough answers from Thomas to any questions. Along with many others, I joined Blogger and created my 1st blog, signed up for Dropbox and created auto backup, and registered for Evernote and created first notes and notebooks, thanks to these interactive sessions provided by Thomas. (And having set up Dropbox and Evernote when I only owned a PC, was in great shape when later purchased an iPhone, then an iPad).

    Would love to hear from others of any "verb" vs. "noun" experiences!

  11. I'm going to enter into the comments ring here by saying that I've seen strong, positive change at APG and change that has momentum to continue making APG relevant to professional genealogists in the 21st century.

    Thanks to the hard work of many volunteers, I've noticed big changes since I came on the scene as a professional almost five years ago. If you had asked me even two years ago if I'd see some of the features like webinars, online discussions and more at APG, I would have say an absolute "no."

    This isn't to say that everything is perfect and that more change isn't possible. I think that APG experiences the same challenges as any other large genealogy organization - and this includes FGS where I serve as a Director.

    I want to thank Amy Coffin for incubating and fostering this exchange of feedback and ideas - this is what we need more of, in my opinion. I'd love to hear about other organizations similar to SLA or AAIP from which we could bring ideas to genealogy organizations.

  12. Thank you everyone who has read this and commented here, or even privately to me. I do want to make one point that this piece was asking general questions to all genealogy associations.

    APG members latched onto it for discussion, which is fine. However, I don't want people to think my post was directed toward a specific group.

    In a comment above, Michael Hait asked how the ideas in the SLA blog post could be applied to APG, so I answered with specific suggestions. This should not be construed as things I feel are wrong with APG or any group. They were merely suggestions based on the ideas of a similar group of information professionals.

    I agree with Thomas that APG is on the rise and doing good things. I had the fortune and pleasure to interview APG president Kenyatta Berry at RootsTech 2012. She's all energy and good fit for the association.

    I brought the SLA blog post to the table in an attempt to foster discussion on vision (or lack thereof). I believe I succeeded in that endeavor (or endeavour for my international homies).

  13. Amy,
    Thank you for this thoughtful and thought-provoking post and comments. I currently serve on the BOD of the National Genealogical Society. Like APG and many other groups, we are aware of the accelerating pace of change and the need to respond, while at the same time we cannot completely leave a significant segment of our membership behind.

    We need this kind of continued dialog - one thing that jumped out at me in the SLA article was the amount of input, interaction, and feedback the SLA sought from its members. In my opinion, that is what should drive the changes in any organization.
    Jean Atkinson Andrews

  14. One of the differences between SLA and organizations like APG and FGS is money. The dues for SLA are much higher, and that's because they're catering to a crowd of mostly salaried professionals. I paid a lot more for dues to my old professional organization too, because I made way more money from that profession. Genealogy doesn't pay much, so dues are lower.

    Lower dues mean few (if any) paid staff. I think APG has one paid person, and I'm not sure whether FGS has any. When things are run by volunteers, they're not as robust. Even the most dedicated volunteer is going to do his/her paying work first, and is going to have periods where they forgo volunteer work due to work pressures, family stuff, health stuff, etc.

    I have learned over the past few years to temper my expectations, because I'm not sure there's enough money in genealogy associations to be able to do all of the awesome things I'd like to see done. I think we're getting what we pay for, but if we want more, we'll need to pony up (and given the complaining about things like Ancestry subscription fees, I'm not holding my breath).

    1. The individual dues for SLA are both higher and lower than APG, depending on your income.

      I'm going to assume the CEO is a paid position, because she's been there a while. There's probably an office staff, too. However, officer positions, all division and caucus heads are all elected volunteers. They do this to advance their careers and their field while giving back. The Texas Library Association is the same way. I was one of those people once upon a time. Maybe the drive to serve is stronger in that field? I don't know.

      As for the financial difference, money can buy pretty things. But honestly, a lot of genealogy associations just need some basic honest-to-goodness introspection, better dialog with members and a plan for the future. That's entirely affordable.

      Also, Kerry, it's never too late for library school. I can hook you up with a distance program. You wouldn't even have to take off your jammies.

  15. (I have to add, though, that this discussion is rekindling my I-wanna-be-a-librarian fantasy. Librarians are cool, and this forward-thinking-ness is one of the reasons why.)

  16. Love it Amy, always great with the analogies.

    "Which lane are you in?" From my view, there are quite a few groups who are those awful people at the end of an on ramp who cannot commit to getting on the highway. Harsh? Probably, but it is how I feel sometimes.

    APG: basically a listing service. Sorry guys, been with you six months. Found the articles in the quarterly dishearteningly simple for a publication catering to 'professionals'. Will I renew? Reserving judgment simply because folks like Michael and Harold are involved. Hoping for better days ahead.

    FGS2012. An incredible let down for my first national conference. The lectures billed as intermediate were hardly that. The 'talk at you' format is beyond old. This is not a technology grip. 50 minute lectures leave little time for discussion. What discussion does happen is centered on an individual trying to get help with their one little research issue. How about interactive forums? What about Idea session? What about help sessions? What about real Q&A formats about where the field is going? I will be attending FGS2013 because it is what I can afford. But I will pay the extra price to participate in workshops rather than lectures.

    Societies. One of the major grips I here from society members is about declining membership and a lack of new blood. Yet these same folks resist attempts at modernization and reaching out to the new members they claim to seek. The lament is often that younger folks just aren't interested. Yet they tend to alienate those younger folks who try to engage them. Either with their incredulity or their condescension.

    I get it. Not everyone is web savvy. Again, this is not strictly a technology grip. But my learning these days comes from the blogosphere, both personal and professional, rather than from societies and associations. I am part of a younger generation of genealogist who have grown up in this field on the web.

    If you cannot find a way to speak to me in my language that also respects the legacy genealogists then eventually, you will lose us both.

  17. Oh my, I see the philosophies of SLA and Council for the Advancement of Forensic Genealogy have a lot in common!

  18. I have been sitting here, trying to keep my fingers off the keyboard. Well, that didn't work. I hope you will indulge me.

    It was a little challenging to think in the abstract about verbs and nouns and societies and associations. I couldn't get my head around "national organizations" because I don't have the experience. So I placed the comments into a framework that I could understand. I reviewed it through the eyes of a board member of the Southern California Genealogical Society.

    SCGS was dragged, kicking and screaming, into the technology of the 1990s in 2002 or 2003 when people learned the society was using the president's personal Ancestry account for patrons. [Let's hope the statute of limitations has expired.]

    After about two years, much pain, hard work and too many hard feelings, SCGS began to accept the Internet. All it took was money, guts, and someone to blame it on if it all went wrong.

    In the intervening years, we evolved. First moving the newsletter online, revamping a website to be more than a single page with notice of a meeting that was held eight months earlier. Baby steps into blogging and being involved with the blogging community.

    Then a big step. In 2010, when GoToWebinar software became affordable through TechSoup, SCGS became the first society to produce a regularly scheduled webinar series. Sessions are still offered free to the general public, with access to the webinar held as a member benefit.

    Yeah, yeah, yeah. So what.

    - Since it first embraced technology, membership has increased about 38 percent.

    - Over 10,000 email addresses receive updates by mailing through Constant Contact. Our open rate var exceeds industry standard.

    - Attendance at the annual conference, the Genealogy Jamboree, has increased 183 percent. Jamboree's reputation for drawing a younger crowd is well deserved.

    - Streamed videos from Jamboree were offered free of charge (thanks to sponsors) and viewed by over 2500 genealogists and family historians.

    - Webinars have introduced SCGS to family historians throughout the US and beyond and sparked our sixfold growth in digital membership.

    Here's my disconnect. I read the article, Amy, and I kept thinking ... the verbs are really great, directed, powerful. But the nouns - webinars, courses, websites, blogs - are how those verbs are implemented.

    Genealogy probably is behind the curve in adopting technologies and methods that have been de rigueur in corporate circles for several years. I'm okay with that - when I left the corporate world, I swore never to use the phrase "core competencies" again.

    Genealogy organizations have so many ways to improve, to visualize those verbs that will evolve into the next whatever-it-is that we will become. I like verbs. I like verbs like "deliver" and "involve" and "promote." Those are action verbs, too.

    In the meantime, don't discount the nouns. They are the mileage markers on the road to verb-niccisitude.

    It's a word, I swear. I saw it online.

    1. Paula, thank you for the comment. SCGS is, in my opinion, well ahead of the curve. They use those verbs to make nouns. This is not the case for many associations.

      Love nouns, hate verbs, pick apart to vision of another group that deals in information. I don't care. What's frustrating is the general push back and "oh that will never work" auto response that seems to generate when a new idea is tossed on the table. Even here in these comments and discussion elsewhere, folks can't help but knock what's different.

      Again, please understand I'm not talking about SCGS. I'm talking about the field in general. The problem is that many associations have been using the same nouns for years or even decades. What would new car purchases be like if the models never changed or improved? Why is it ok for genealogy societies, associations, businesses, education or anything else to do the same?

  19. Amen, let the choir sing! Thank you librarian sista! There is a lot of great information useful through many professional library, archives, and history organizations.