NGS Conference – Day Three

by Carolyn L. Barkley

Conferences take on a life of their own, with an ebb and flow in the exhibit hall that is driven by the session schedule. Periods of intense activity alternate with quieter hours during sessions. On Friday, individuals who had been browsing all week, began to make their final selections. Some were more cautious as they were flying home (and genealogical books are notoriously heavy); others, who were driving home, were less concerned by size and weight.

I must admit that my fondest desire is to have speakers, when preparing their lectures, contact the publishers (or at least the booksellers who normally have booths at genealogical conferences) and share with them the specific titles that they will be recommending during a lecture. No book seller wants to disappoint potential buyers with “Sorry, we don’t have that title at the conference;” or “Sorry, that book is out of print;” or “Sorry, we’ve sold the one copy we brought with us.” Granted, book sellers can sometimes anticipate popular topics based on early views of the syllabus, but that direct contact between speaker and bookseller would be very helpful.

Several people played hooky from Friday’s 9:30 session to stop at the genealogical.com booth and talk with Elizabeth Shown Mills during a book-signing. If you have not seen her new web-site Evidence-Explained.com, be sure to (and I’ll be writing more about it soon).

I spent the day looking forward to the 100th anniversary of NGSQ reception, for which I had purchased a ticket. Afterwards, I was left wondering why it was not a more festive (meaning celebratory) event. To provide full disclosure, I arrived half-an-hour late (my conference bag was heavy and therefore I took it back to my hotel room). However, a full hour of the reception’s scheduled time remained when I did arrive. Yes, there were lots of people, but they must have been very hungry, as most of the buffet items were completely depleted (often never to be replenished). While I do understand the very human behavior of large groups at buffet tables, I was surprised by the lack of a celebratory atmosphere, almost as if we had forgotten how to throw a party – or at the very least how to congratulate ourselves.  While I’m not asking for clusters of balloons and noise-makers, I was surprised by the lack of formal remarks and introductions to mark the occasion (did I miss them due to my absence during the first half-hour?). The anniversary brochure was nicely done, but the small TV-sized monitors showing pictures of editors and early title pages were lost among the crowd. In this day of dwindling print journals of this stature and longevity, NGSQ’s significant achievements deserved more. In my humble opinion…

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