Saturday, September 22, 2012

On Facebook Event Invites

In the last couple of weeks, I received an invitation to a genealogical event that is being held about an hour or so from my home today.  The invitation from the genealogical society's Facebook page simply called it Genealogy Day. There was no further information on the event other than a start time and a location. As someone who would be coming from a distance, I wanted to know if it would be worth my while to attend the event. I began searching for more information. I tried the society's web site. There was nothing on there about Genealogy Day. I looked at the web site of the library where it was being held. It wasn't even on the calendar for the library. I tried Google and found nothing more. Finally, I sent a message to the person associated with the society who had issued the invitation to me. I found out that there was no program. It was just a day where persons could get help from local society members with their research. They would also do a little book shelving or whatever needed to be done in the genealogical section of the library. I decided that it was not worth my time and gasoline expense to make the trip. It would have been much easier for me to make that decision if the Facebook page had included that information or if the information had been available in the obvious places of the society's web site or library's web site.

Perhaps such a day is successful for some societies with careful planning and the right type of marketing; however, in my experience, these types of events draw few persons needing the help. It seems to me that the event would have been more successful if they'd had some sort of speaker for a portion of the time and then offered assistance with research. Maybe there could have been a lecture on researching in that specific county with an emphasis on records locally available. For the event being held, even someone planning to attend because s/he needed help would have benefited from a suggestion to write down his/her research problem, what is known (and documented), sources already consulted, search terms used, and results (including negative results).  Those things would have been useful to the person trying to be of assistance to the individual.

Sometimes societies assume that people know what their "Genealogy Day" is, but with the reach of social networking and the Internet, they need to realize that individuals from "away" are going to see their events. Full information needs to be available somewhere online.  The link to that information needs to be included whenever an "invite" is sent.

1 comment:

Amy Coffin, MLIS said...

You make a very good point. I always tell people to draft event write-ups assuming the audience knows nothing about the group. I see so many genealogy promotions that say "at the library." Argh!