The 2011 conference of the Federation of Genealogical Societies opened today in Springfield, Illinois. This year's conference is co-sponsored by the Illinois State Genealogical Society. The weatherman cooperated perfectly; we enjoyed bright blue skies and rather cool temperatures. It was a perfect day for walking around the neighborhood.
The conference is being held in the Prairie Capital Convention Center, which appears to be a great venue for a conference of this size. I haven't seen all of it yet, but the conference center seems to be well organized with meeting rooms that are modern and with good acoustics. Best of all, the conference center is providing free wi-fi connectivity for all attendees. I found it easy to sit in a presentation and to take notes and even write blog or Twitter entries during each presentation.
You can see a bit unusual view of the convention center in the photograph to the right. You can click on the image to view a larger picture. It shows the convention center as seen from the 26th floor of the Hilton Hotel. You will note the shadow of the Hilton is falling directly onto the convention center. This is similar to the view we will have at Saturday evening's EOGN dinner, to be described later.
The official conference hotel is the Hilton Springfield which is across the street from the convention center, requiring a walk of about 30-seconds or so. Other hotels are also available within walking distance. In the past, I have complained about the high cost of accommodations at various conferences, with outrageous fees for hotel rooms, wi-fi connections, parking, and almost every other fee a hotel can think of adding to your bill. While not cheap, the Hilton Springfield is more reasonably priced than most other hotels near convention centers. Wi-fi access is free of charge throughout the hotel and parking is a rather modest $5.50 per day. Contrast that with $35 a day paid for parking at an earlier FGS conference in another city some years ago!
I have also found quite a few restaurants are available within walking distance of the hotel and convention center. However, it is a downtown area so many of the restaurants close in the late afternoon or early evening. A few others, including the hotel restaurant, do remain open well into the evening hours, however.
The first day of any FGS conference is always devoted to topics of interest to society members and officers. This year's event is no different. Wednesday morning's events started with Plenary Session remarks by David Rencher, Chief Genealogical Officer for FamilySearch. He spoke on How Will Our Society Survive? Do We Alter, Mutate, Modify, Shift or Switch? He talked about strategies to keep our societies meaningful and part of a vibrant genealogical community, especially in these days of rapid business and technology changes.
Shortly after his presentation, attendees had a choice of 6 or 7 different simultaneous presentations, held all day long. As always, I couldn't get to all the presentations I wanted to hear!
One session that I did attend was very interesting to me. But It's My Family: Copyright Issues for Genealogists - Copyright Issues for the 21st Century Genealogical Community by Cath Madden Trindle, CG. The session was described as looking at copyrights from a society's viewpoint although I found almost all the information she presented applies to societies and individuals alike. She spent a lot of time describing the various dates of significance in copyright history. Those dates are very important for anyone considering republishing anyone else's work, even in small snippets within a new work.
You can read the entire conference schedule at http://www.fgs.org/2011conference/
If you missed a session of interest, or if you were unable to attend this year's conference, you may be interested to know that most of the sessions were recorded and will soon be available digitally from Fleetwood Onsite Conference Recording, Inc. Recordings can be ordered at http://www.fltwood.com/onsite/ although I wouldn't look for a listing there for a few days yet. The Fleetwood employees are rather busy this week making the recordings! However, I do expect a complete list will be available online within a week or two. The recordings will be available as online downloads. Once downloaded, you can listen to the recordings on your computer, iPod, MP3 player, or other audio device. If you wish, you can also copy the recordings to a CD disk.
The conference will continue tomorrow, starting with the Keynote Speech by David S. Ferriero, Archivist of the United States. I have heard him speak before and have always found his comments to be of interest and directly related to the topics covered by the conference. I'll be seated in the audience when he starts his talk at 8:30 AM.
If you are interested in possibly attending next year's FGS conference, mark your calendar now for August 29 through September 1, 2012, and plan to travel to Birmingham, Alabama. For more information about this year's event, go to http://www.fgs.org/2011conference/
Of course, the highlight of any conference for me occurs shortly after the close of the scheduled events. A bunch of newsletter readers often gather for dinner at a local restaurant. This year's FGS conference is no exception: we will have dinner on the 29th floor of the Hilton, looking out over the city of Springfield. If you would like to join us, details may be found at http://goo.gl/MsK3f
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