Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Private Companies Taking Over Libraries

Hello All -

Dick Eastman had an interesting post about some US city public libraries being taken over or managed by private companies, such as LSSI. The full NY Times article mentioned in Eastman's post can be read here:

Could this happen here in the UK? The only answer that I can give is I don't know. Libraries all over are facing the cut backs in financing and hours, etc. due to the current financial situation. Public libraries have in a sense always been a institution of the local government. If the city's public library goes into private management would that make things more costly for the patron? The private management company is for profit or they wouldn't be going into business. How is the private company making it's money - fees for books that are returned late, etc. The article mentioned about making cuts in the library workers, etc. That would save money in overhead, but how else would the private library get it's funding. There is the fear that fees, and various other costs for the library patron will increase down the line. It may not be immediate, but it will no doubt come.

However (playing devil's advocate), perhaps privatizing the public library will be a good thing all around, and make things work better and more efficiently. In the US, some of the libraries are unionized. This can sometimes cause their own problems with strikes, high cost of pensions and benefits, etc. Maybe the privatization will cut out the unnecessary waste for the library, which can be a sore spot in any government run facility now days. As long as the services are not cut or made to cost more (private company wanting to make a big profit), there shouldn't be a problem with privatization.

There could also be the problem of "what if the private company goes bust?" Then what happens to the library? Will it go back to the government to run again, will it be sold to another private company, or will the library just go along the wayside and left to rot empty and derelict.

In my local town public library there is a sense that the facility is not being as used as much as it once was, mainly due to the Internet. So much information can be acquired at home on a personal computer. The local public library is not really the hub of activity as it used to be. There are many times that I have been into the local public library and hardly a soul is in it. I cannot speak for other libraries, but just what I have noticed in my own local one.

I don't really know if privatization of the public library will happen here in the UK. My hunch is probably not. But, I think it is an interesting concept that I hadn't thought about until reading Eastman's post and the NY Times article. It makes one think about the future of their public library facilities. Perhaps when the economy gets better things will not look as troublesome for the local library, and things will pick up in terms of budget, hours of operation, etc.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

SOG Centenary Conference in 2011

Hello All -

Just a brief mention about the upcoming Soceity of Genealogist's 100 Years Celebration Centenary Conference in 2011. It is to be held on 7th May 2011 at The Royal Overseas League, Over-Seas House, Park Place, 5 St James’s Terrace, London SW1A 1LP.

For more information about his event please view the website at:

The conference will have earlybird rate of £99.00 up to January 31, 2011. The price also includes a lunch. The price after 31st January will be £120.00. There will also be a Conference Banquet for an earlybird cost of £30 (goes up to £35 after 31st January). If you are interested in the Conference and the Banquet the cost will be £116 for earlybird rate (£140 after 31st Jan.).

I have had a quick look at the program and it looks to be quite a good outing. We wish the SoG well in their 100 years and hope for many more years to come for their organization.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

APG at WDYTYA? Live 2011

Hello All -

For those of you who may be interested in possibly knowing more about professional genealogy, and about those who are practicing professional genealogists (like myself), the Association of Professional Genealogists are planning on having a information booth at this upcoming Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2011 in London. The APG is headquartered in the US, but has members from all over the world. Here is some further information regarding their trip to London from their Executive Director, Kathleen W. Hinckley, CG:

"The Association of Professional Genealogists (APG®) announced today that it will participate in the Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE 2011, The National Conference, this coming February in London, U.K. APG will exhibit at the event, with the goal of educating new audiences on the benefits of hiring professional genealogists who adhere to genealogical standards and ethics.

APG president Laura Prescott and APG executive director Kathleen Hinckley, CG, will represent the organization at the show. "The APG represents more than 2,000 professional genealogists in more than 30 countries," said Prescott. "The Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE conference will give APG an opportunity to meet approximately 15,000 family history enthusiasts and educate them about our mission and the availability of our members to serve them."The APG's international committee has been exploring the growing need for professional genealogists in markets outside of North America. The committee, with members in England, India, Ireland, Israel and the U.S., examines opportunities to share the APG message and promote international awareness of, and interest in, professional genealogical services.

The upcoming exhibition will be the APG's first conference presence outside of North America.About the Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE 2011 Conference and Exhibition The Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE 2011 conference, the U.K.'s largest and most comprehensive family history event, will be held February 25-27, 2011 at London's historic Olympia Exhibition Centre. The conference, held since 2007, was created in response to overwhelming interest in the U.K.'s television show Who Do You Think You Are?, now in its seventh season. The show features nearly 200 exhibitors and more than 100 seminars and workshops. Celebrities from the U.K. show will also appear. See http://www.whodoyouthinkyouarelive.co.uk for more information.

About the APG The Association of Professional Genealogists (http://www.apgen.org), established in 1979, represents more than 2,000 genealogists, librarians, writers, editors, historians, instructors, booksellers, publishers, and others involved in genealogy-related businesses. APG encourages genealogical excellence, ethical practice, mentoring, and education. The organization also supports the preservation and accessibility of records useful to the fields of genealogy, local, and social history. Its members represent all fifty states, Canada, and thirty other countries."

The good folks at the APG have asked us to spread the word about the "Yanks" coming to London. We are hoping all of you out there will turn out - it will definitely be a good time, and there will be lots of booths and great lectures. The WDYTYA? Live event seems to get bigger and better every year.

Tracing Your Roots Back on BBC Radio 4

Hello All -

The new series of BBC 4's Tracing Your Roots is back on the airwaves again. It is broadcast on Tuesdays at 4:00 pm (16:00). Sally Magnusson is your host along with the expertise of Nick Barratt. If you have happened to miss any of the episodes so far you can listen online at:

The first two episodes are there presently for your listening pleasure.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Some Reflection On This Series of WDYTYA?

Hello All -

Well, now that this series of UK Who Do You Think You Are? is over I thought I would give some personal reflection of it. I think as a whole it was ok compared to previous series. There were a couple that were a bit boring - Bruce Forsyth, Rupert Everett, and Alexander Armstrong where the main ones that I felt were a bit of a snoozer or disappointing. I had missed three of the episodes while I was in the US in August, but did watch them on "catch up" when I got back home. I admit that I turned off the Alexander Armstrong episode halfway through.

The other ones apart from the three mentioned above I thought were good and interesting to watch. There were stories that held your attention and wanting to find out what happens. They were also good ones to watch for the different record types and countries involved in the research.

Some of the episodes only focused on the one ancestor in the story, but I think that that one ancestor was that interesting to follow for the entire programme. Personally, I do like the ones where you get to follow a few more lines of the person's tree. Especially when the person doesn't know much of anything at all about their family and the discoveries are all new to them and you see their reactions.

This is just my personal opinion of things, as I know that some of you may not agree with my choices of boring and good episodes. Overall, I still think that WDYTYA is a great programme and it is great to see it being shown in various countries with their version (Australia, US, etc.).
NBC in the US had already planned to do their second series, which is great news.

I was fortunate to watch a couple of the episodes as repeats while I was in the US. Being in the UK, unless you have a special VPN type software or other way of bypassing the country restrictions, one cannot watch the episodes online on the NBC website. The BBC did show about three episodes though (Brooke Shields, Susan Sarandan, and Jessica Parker). One of the episodes that I watched that I really enjoyed was the Emmitt Smith one - I might be biased being a big Dallas Cowboys fan. However, I hope that the US version will slow down a bit as I found that it went a bit too quickly on the ancestors and skipping up the tree without knowing how they got there. The Emmitt Smith episode was a good one for being more focused on the one family line or ancestor at a time.

Can't wait to see what the next series will be like and who it will feature. Hopefully they will make more episodes as I think the series is still popular with the public.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Last Episode of UK WDYTYA Tonight

Hello All -

The last episode in this series of the UK Who Do You Think You Are is on tonight at 9:00 pm
on BBC1. This episode involves the Scottish actor Alan Cumming. This one should be good for us Scottish genealogical researchers, and see what types of records and repositories are used.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

A Brief Review of Buzzy's Book

Hello All -

I have just read the new book by Buzzy Jackson called "Shaking The Family Tree: Blue Bloods, Black Sheep, and other Obsessions of an Accidental Genealogist." I purchased it while I was on holiday in the US this past month.

I can see why this book is so widely praised, it is a book that you can't put down. Needless to say it involves Buzzy taking her readers on a journey of her beginnings of researching her ancestry - her Jackson side of the family. It is a book that really sucks you in as a reader, especially as a fellow genealogist. The book delves into Buzzy's beginnings of her interest in researching her family, and quickly illustrates how addictive it can be. Buzzy shows a great sense of humour and seems to have a great time with it all. She demonstrates the fun side of genealogy as well as the serious academic side of things.

Buzzy's genealogical journey takes her in a number of areas - DNA research, interviewing her older relatives as well as her parents, going on the Wholly Genes Cruise, graveyard visits, joining her local family history society, etc. This book really shows the process in practical form of performing family history research, and does so in a very entertaining way. It is a book that almost everyone can relate to, as we have all done some of the same sort of things ourselves as newbies. Buzzy seems to quickly get a hand on things and learns alot from her experiences in researching her Jackson family. She definitely meets up with the best folks to learn from (her cruise with Wholly Genes).

It was so interesting to read of her experiences with the world of genealogy as a new-comer, and her development within it. Buzzy's book would make a great documentary - one can just image the book on film. I would definitely recommend reading Buzzy's book - beginner or not.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Still Here

Hello All -

I know I haven't blogged in a while, but I do have a good excuse. I was attending the Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference in Knoxville, Tennesse, and the Association of Professional Genealogists PMC. This is held the day just before the main FGS conference. It was a bit of a trek to go from Scotland, but I can say that it was worth it. The conference was well attended and had a record number of new, budding genealogists attending.

This was a great time had by all. The Knoxville area is a wonderful city, which loads of history and a fantastic research facilities. I spent at least two days searching the McClung Collection at the East Tennessee History Center http://www.easttnhistory.org/. The ETHC also houses the Knox County Archives. So, this is the place to go if you have specifically Knox County ancestors. It is also great on Tennessee records too in the McClung Collection.

The exhibit hall had loads of great stuff - it was hard to not buy something. But there was also informative venders as well such as Ancestry.com and Familysearch. The whole enormous exhibit area always seemed to have a good crowd looking at the stalls and talking with the folks there.

The main highlight was attending the numerous talks given by some of the top lecturers in genealogy, Tom Jones, Elizabeth Shown Mills, Elissa Powell, Joshua Taylor, just to name a few.

I definitely learned alot, and had fun too (not to mention eating some good Tennessee bar-b-q as well).

If you haven't done so, I definitely recommend attending a main genealogy conference - National Genealogical Society, WDYTYA? London, FGS, etc. It can be a bit expensive, but only if you can just go once it would really be a great experience and you would learn loads. There is nothing like hundreds to thousands of genealogists roaming around under one roof.