RootsTech 2018 is coming right up.
I will be attending once again this year and I can’t wait! Many of my plans are taken care of, but I’m still working on the two most important items:
1 – Selecting classes to attend and printing the handouts.
2 – Making my FHL research plan for my free time.
Let’s talk a little bit about those two very important items.
Class Choice & Handouts
It’s important to carefully look over the RootsTech schedule, you can find it here. The RootsTech app allows you to create an electronic schedule of classes. If that works for you, great!
I use the app, but I also make a detailed paper schedule for each day of the week. Why?
There are so many reasons. My perspective changes throughout the week. Sometimes I attend a class that is so incredible, I decide I want to go to every class taught by that teacher during the rest of the week. And, unfortunately, the opposite has happened. I attend a class taught by someone and decide to skip any other classes taught by that person. Sometimes a class is full by the time you get there and you need a backup plan. And then sometimes a presenter isn’t able to be there for one reason or another, and once again, you need a backup plan. Sometimes I have selected more than one class on a specific topic, but the first one I attended was so detailed that I decided to change my later plans and learn about another topic of interest to me. There are lots of reasons you might decide to change your schedule during the week.
I try to choose three classes I am interested in for each session. I make myself a schedule in Google docs. I rank my three choices as 1st, 2nd, and 3rd choice. Sometimes I add a note to remind myself of what I hope to learn from a specific class, like – “maybe I can learn some tricks that will help me track down John Costello’s immigration records?” I include all relevant data in my document – classroom, teacher, class title and description, etc. Here is a sample page from my schedule for last year:
Notice that I even added information about streaming sessions and times when the class is being offered again during the week. Those are important factors to consider.
I spend time making my schedule really user-friendly for me. I print out my schedule for each day, staple it together and then this is the part that works especially well for me – I use a different colored folder for each day. I use a few large paperclips to paperclip the schedule to the front of the folder. And then on the inside, I have ALL of the handouts for each of my class choices – 1st-3rd. I write on them so that I know which handout is for which class. The handouts are paperclipped together by session, with the first choice class in the front of the stack.
Seems excessive right?
Well, there is plenty of downtime in between classes and while you wait for the general session to start. I try to always be one class ahead on my final decision. What does that mean?
Well, while I wait for the general session to start, I look over my three choices for the class after the general session. I skim the handouts, finalize my decision, make any necessary adjustments to my backup plan (like switching my 2nd and 3rd choices), and then look at the map so I know where I am going after the general session ends. While I wait for the first class to start, I go through the same process to prepare for the next session.
I love having the printed handout to write on, but I also bring a notebook in case I want to write more than will fit on the handout.
I add one more very important list to my schedule – a list of exhibit hall goals. That might include things like purchasing DNA kits, getting coupons from specific vendors, meeting someone at their booth, purchasing some specific books, or learning about a new tool, group, or tech item. Having a list of exhibit hall goals that is printed is really helpful for me so that I don’t forget anything.
FHL Research Plan
One of the best parts of being at RootsTech is the opportunity to do some research at the Family History Library. It’s really important to have a plan for that research time. And a backup plan, and a second backup plan, and even a third backup plan…
Last year, my top priority was getting a long list of South African probate files. I had a detailed list of film numbers and reference numbers to help me locate the items quickly. I had double-checked and finalized that list on Monday. On Wednesday I was in the library going through those microfilms. When I got to the 6th probate file, I had some trouble locating the file on the microfilm and went into the FamilySearch catalog to make sure I hadn’t written the microfilm number down incorrectly. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that all 400+ microfilm in that collection were suddenly online and viewable from home when just on Monday they were not! Thankfully, I had several backup plans and quickly shifted gears.
Just like I like having a physical, printed schedule for each day of RootsTech, I like to have a physical, printed research plan so that I can have it in my hand as I wander the library looking for things. It’s much easier for me to glance at a piece of paper and make notes on that, check things off, etc, than to have to keep pulling up a list on my phone or on the computers.
I have lots of work to do to get my class schedule and research plan prepared, but it will be so worth it! The more time I spend preparing, the more I learn during the sessions, and the more I find in the library. Preparation makes the week even better.
Are you attending RootsTech? If so, do you have any favorite tips to share? Happy Monday, I hope you make a fantastic genealogy discovery today!