Monday, May 4, 2015

Out of the Dungeon


Today was the day that the new Newspaper and Family History Zone opened at The National Library of Australia. You can read all about it here on the library site.

Until last Thursday this area was on level LG1 (Lower Ground 1 = Dungeon) which while functional enjoyed no natural light.

On a good year I get down to Canberra a couple of times to visit the library, sometimes I only make it once. As luck would have it I was in the library at around 10:03 am today not long after the area opened. I was one of the first patrons in the area when I collected some files that I had ordered in. How cool is that! 

There may have been an opening party but I saw no evidence of any fanfare; I saw several staff members including Mr Trove, Tim Sharratt in his red sneakers, pop in to have a look. The new area is on the Ground Floor and is an extension of the Main Reading Room, it is light, bright and cavernous. There's plenty of room for growth.

Of course I had my camera in my bag so I took a few snaps of the new area that has natural light flooding into it from two sides.

The Enquiries Desk 


Microfilm Storage seems to go on and on
Plenty of whizz bang Microfilm Readers
Fiche Storage
Information Guides prominently displayed
Journals, Booklets from Unlock the Past and Reference Collection
A range of seating options
Lots of space
Seminar rooms with big screens and HDMI connections
Tables with power sockets built in
Power Sockets
A friendly staff member who went the extra mile and made this lady's day
Thanks to the people at our National Library for providing such stunning new facilities for Family Historians.

Friday, May 1, 2015

GAGs - GeniAus' Gems - 1 May 2015

Greetings Genimates.

This week has been an important week in Australian history as we celebrated last Saturday, 25th April, the centenary of the landing at Gallipoli, Turkey early n World War 1. Australian geneabloggers commemorate thier family members and other brave ANZACS in a swag of blog posts about our fighting men. I  cannot single out any post as outstanding, they were all magnificent tributes.

I must mention four Australian geneabloggers who have distinguished themselves in the April A-Z blogging challenge. Congratulations Helen Connor, Jennifer Jones, Judy Lofthouse and Anne Young for completing the challenge.


This mroning a post from Susan Petersen, one of my genimates in the US, appeared in my feed. This is one of the best posts I have read in a long time and is at the top of my must read posts this week.

1. Whether you are a member of a genealogy society or not you must read Susan's post.
http://longlostrelatives-smp.blogspot.com.au/2015/04/an-open-letter-to-genealogy-societies.html

2.  For those who need help to tame Twitter
http://stephenslighthouse.com/2015/04/28/80-twitter-tools-for-almost-everything/

3. Mosman Council gives us some tips as Privacy Week approaches
http://mosman.nsw.gov.au/news/2015/04/30/privacy-awareness-week-2015

4. Shauna's post on Unit Histories is timely
http://www.shaunahicks.com.au/week-37-military-unit-histories-unit-war-diaries-in-52-weeks-of-genealogical-records-in-20PhD15/

5. Shelley is doing amazing work with Family Historian Plugins.
http://twigsofyore.blogspot.com.au/2015/04/plugin-progress.html

6. Because genies are fascinated by trees and branches
http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2015/04/branching-out-tree-idioms-and-phrases/

7. Nola dips into the Parish Chest
https://nolamackey.wordpress.com/2015/04/29/a-window-in-time-my-bell-family-in-east-farleigh-kent-england/

8.  FromPhD to book - a long journey
https://www.nla.gov.au/blogs/behind-the-scenes/2015/04/09/royal-visits-to-australia

9.  Alona relates how a small town recognises ANZAC Day
http://www.lonetester.com/2015/04/anzac-day-at-gumeracha/

10.  From SLNSW for those with sporting ancestors
http://statelibrarynsw-familyhistory.tumblr.com/post/117816803977/souths-v-rugby-league-sports-ground-1930s

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Pondering Pauleen's Posers

Earlier in April Pauleen Cass, aka Cassmob, published a thought provoking post, To Conference or not to Conference, on the Worldwide Genealogy Blog. In the comments I said that I would think on the questions Pauleen asked at the end of her post and respond in due course and of course I haven't.

I will respond to Pauleen's questions here (they would actually make a good geneameme). BTW it would be a good idea to read Pauleen's post before you read my responses.



1. During a final-day Congress panel session led by GeniAus, Josh Taylor mentioned that perhaps the term “society” is out of date for younger potential genealogists. Do you agree? Are you a member of a family history/genealogy/local history society?

I hadn't thought of this until Josh raised it. Society to me sounds a bit stuffy, serious, regimented and old fashioned. This was why, when recently I was part of a committee responsible for launching a new local family history organisation, I suggested we call it a Family History Group. To me that sounded more friendly, supportive and welcoming.

Yes, I am a society/group junkie. I belong to three local groups in my area, our state society, The Society of Genealogists in the UK, two surname societies and a one-place studies society. My budget tells me that I should resign from a few but I only have plans to ditch one at the moment. I am enjoying our new group because we are all on a level playing field, there are no cliques and no people who have held office for way too long. I think there should be a limit on the terms of office bearers in such groups so that enthusiastic newbies are not virtually locked out.

2. Also I wonder if the word “genealogy” continues to fully reflect how we refer to what we do. What is your preferred term when you tell people about your hobby obsession? Is it genealogy or family history?

It depends on how one defines genealogy . The purists see genealogy as a record of one's ancestry (or descendants) that basically lists names and dates to show lineage, they do not see genealogy as embellished by stories. On the other hand Family Historians take the research further by seeking out stories of their ancestors.

I see genealogy as a dynamic term that now means something different from what it meant fifty years ago, it may well have a different meaning fifty years hence. I agree with the move made by Wikipedia in 2013 and discussed by Nathan Murphy here.

I don't get hung up on labels, I just do what I do and enjoy it.

3. What other things do you consider when you make a choice about attending a family history conference?

I also consider all those things you have outlined.

The program is important, it must offer something to inform, challenge or amuse me. I didn't attend our state conference in Wollongong last year because the program was Illawarra centric and I have no research interests in the area. There were some topics that may have amused me but I wasn't going to put my dollars towards an event that wasn't going to fulfil my needs. I am still trying to decide whether to attend the state conference in Port Macquarie later this year. The local organisers of these state events need to realise that they are presenting to a different audience from their local groups and provide content with statewide interest and speakers who are fresh and new to the circuit.

I like to see a conference that embraces 21st century practices and technology while respecting doing things the old way. My criticism of the Canberra Congress program is that it was filled with "Chalk and talk" sessions with little opportunities for audience participation; there were no sessions on advanced use of various technologies for genealogy. State and National conferences also need to offer a strand for society officers and members on management, best practice and ethics.

The only conference that I have learned anything new about the application of technology is Rootstech so I will continue to make an annual pilgrimage to Salt Lake City.

Speakers are also important. While we have several experts who present on particular topics here in Australia I would like to hear the same topics presented by others, sometimes hearing a different perspective on a topic just makes it come clear. I like to hear new and interesting people, conference organisers could offer shorter sessions times, poster sessions or panel sessions to newbies  who may be daunted by being on stage by themselves for an hour.

Networking with my genimates is very important to me so I like to have opportunities to sit and discuss issues with those with shared interests. I also like a venue that is in or near reasonable accommodation and has nearby options for restaurants and cafes (for all that networking).

I enjoy seeing lots of exhibitors in the exhibit halls at conferences. I want to see small societies and interest groups and educational institutions as well as the big commercial organisations. While this doesn't impact on my decision to attend a conference it can be a value-added feature.

4. Have you been to conferences locally or nationally? Were they of benefit?

I have been lucky enough to attend Rootstech in Salt Lake City on four occasions and when in the UK I have attended several events. Most useful was a two day event in Somerset learning all about Family Historian software with Jane Taubman.

These events were of great benefit. I have been exposed to experts I would never have heard in Australia, I have made new genimates and I have been been educated on new topics.

I can recommend ccombining overseas holidays with geneaevents. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Red hearts at the NLA

A  friend's wedding in Canberra is giving me an opportunity to spend a couple of extra days to undertake some research in our nation's capital.

When I was preparing for my research days prior to Congress last month I didn't give myself enough time to order items from the National Archives of Australia. Why they need five days notice to collect files from their storage facility that is less than thirty minutes drive away I don't know. Surely they do at least a daily run between the Reading Room and the storage facility at Mitchell. The good news is that this time I have ordered the files I wish to see withe plenty of notice.

This morning I am on the National Library of Australia website and being thankful for the Add to Favourites red heart. This helpful tool ensures that my time at the library  is most productive.

See the Red Heart
I hadn't used this facility until my last trip to the library, this time as I read/examined books
 I added them to my favourites. What is even better is that when one adds a favourite a little text box appears into which one can put a text note.

Add to Favourites Text Box
So this morning as I search the NLA Catalogue for resources little red hearts are showing up in the catalogue for items I have already favourited. How nifty is that! I won't be ordering in books I have already read.

I do add the books I read to Librarything but it's so much better to be able to see the little red hearts on the catalogue.

If you want a few little red hearts in your life you will need a library card from the NLA and to be logged in to the library site while you search the catalogue.

Postscript After spending some time on the site and pulling up a list of my favourites I discovered that I had used this facility back in 2011 but had quite forgotten. I hadn't used it on my visits between 2011 and 2015. Hopefully I will remember to use it in future.

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