Sunday, October 6, 2013

Mid-Continent Library System Is Working On that Divide

Genealogy's Star James Tanner shared this thought provoking post today: Can we overcome the Great Genealogical Divide. 

My initial reaction was to move on as I assumed this was yet another post about "that" divide in the genealogy community. However, curiosity got the best of me and I did read what James had to say and it brings to light another divide James has identified.

In a nutshell James feels there is a need for basic computer, technology and Internet skills for many genealogists. Conferences such as Rootstech essentially require these skills in order to get the most from the sessions offered there.

At first I was shaking my head in agreement with James. It is true many conferences I attend do make the assumption that the attendee has a certain level of technological aptitude. I would hazard to guess that few, if any, conferences attempt to provide this basic type of education.

I stopped shaking my head in agreement though. I do not feel a conference model should be to provide everything to every attendee. I believe that basic level of education can best come from a smaller, local group. James suggested FamilySearch Centers offering such classes, which is a good idea, but do we need to reinvent the wheel?

Look to your public library system. There is a good chance they are providing this basic level of education to patrons. I visited my library's event page and I was pleasantly surprised (I don't know why because they are awesome) to see just how much the Mid-Continent Library System provides in the way of basic technological related education.

Don't reinvent the wheel and don't take patrons away from area library systems. Encourage patrons to look at this resource. If it's not available talk to the library director and see if it can be added. Library systems count on funding to operate and use attendance numbers to legitimize their funding needs. Help them out while helping those beginners cross the technological divide as well.

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