So, if I'm crazy this counts as a 'Madness Monday' post, right?
OK, I admit it: I used 'Madness Monday' because it seemed only fitting after the insane weekend the Midwest Geneabloggers had at the Allen County Public Library in Ft. Wayne, IN. I cannot say enough great things about the Library, what's around the Library, Tina Lyons, and well, everyone who was there!
First, there were a few people that I simply didn't have time to really connect with, and I regret not being more open with some of you. At one point on Saturday, I'd gotten up to get some books, and when I came back into the room, there wasn't a single person who didn't have their head down either in a book, madly typing on a laptop or taking pictures with an iPad or Smartphone. It. Was. Awesome. We're talking at least 20 Genealogists, tearing it up. And, as each moment ticked by, I felt like there was more and more that I wasn't going to have a chance to look at, which made me feel a bit tense.
But, I digress. Here are the things I believe many of us took away from this wonderful weekend:
1. Ft. Wayne is surprisingly affordable. Much discussion happened about how expensive conferences are, and how challenging it is for many of us to be able to go to them. The Midwest Geneabloggers Meetup provided access to a world-class genealogy library and no less than 15 well qualified genealogists. I spent about $100 for the entire weekend (2 nights, food, gas)...what a bargain! Granted, I shared a room with three lovely ladies (which meant we didn't sleep a whole lot), but that just made it even better.
2. Did I mention the Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center is ridiculously amazing? The Family History section is just that: a huge room filled with books written about families. The library is extremely well organized, the lighting is excellent and the chairs are meant for researchers who sit for long periods of time. Wifi is free and provides access to the Library's catalog and all their databases, so you can work from your own computer. I didn't even get the opportunity to utilize the Microfilm room, but I understand their collection is excellent. Just bring a sweater for the room.
3. Downtime with other genealogists is a must. We all have lives. Some of them are messier than others. Often, we think our messes can't possibly be topped. And, then you meet someone who's mess DOES top yours. Or, that your experience with your mess helps someone else with theirs, or vice versa. The kicker is that they frame their messes the same way you do: through the prism of our love for genealogy. Which means we adore our families, no matter how disastrous they seem. And for those of you without messes? There's a few of those out there too!! The most important aspect though is the opportunity to discuss current events, methodology questions, research questions and the like with a room full of really passionate genealogists. It refills your tank so you can get back to what you were working on with renewed purpose and focus.
4. It just makes sense to have another Genealogist look at your research. Often as I looked around, I saw people huddled together in conference. Sometimes it was to ask if something made sense, or to confirm a big find. There were some great moments when you'd hear a restrained 'YES!!' from someone who'd found another piece of their puzzle. We shared it, and it was just fabulous. There were some tentative questions too. There were a number of people there that had never been in a repository before. They weren't sure where to start or what to look for. Guess what? You have 15+ genealogists at your disposal!! Score!
5. JK O'Donnells. So, there were a few of us who fell in love with this place. It's the Irish pub around the corner from the Library. Great food, beverages (especially of the frosty version) and it was the perfect place for use to hang out and discuss. Loudly. With Laughter. Ask for ...oh, Terri O'Connell, help me out! Was it Megan? Melissa? No, Not Melissa. Erg. Our waitress was awesome. Leave it to a Genealogist to forget a living person's name. Anyway, great place to go when you go to the Library.
You ARE going to the Library, right? See you in October ;-)
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