RootsTech 2013 – Overview

RootsTechI attended the RootsTech Conference last week in Salt Lake City. I’ll be writing a bunch of postings this week about what I saw there. I must admit I was impressed at how well everything went and at how large it was. There were over 6,700 prepaid attendees. Some are saying that makes it the largest genealogy conference ever held in the US. It should be the largest held this year as the NGS conference (8–11 May) and FGS conference (21 – 24 August) will probably be smaller. Plus on Saturday there were separate sessions for almost 2,000 teenagers who had signed up to get their first taste of what genealogy could mean to them. I don’t know if RootsTech will be able to count the number of people that watched the 13 live online sessions over the 3 days.

The exhibit hall was over 50% larger than the 2012 conferences. There were over 100 vendors varying greatly in size. There were only a couple of vendors selling books. I saw 2 vendors selling fancy wall charts that come from data in your genealogy database. The exhibit hall also included a demonstration area with nice comfortable seats where vendors gave short (10 – 15 minute) presentations. I don’t know if it was the comfy seats or the demos but the seats where almost always filled. At an end of the the exhibit area was a “Cyber Cafe” where people could sit and plug in their computers to recharge and get internet access. Strangely, this area did not have wi-fi access but you had to plug in to a network connection. The classroom sessions did have wi-fi but I had a hard time maintaining a connection. Next to the “Cyber Cafe” was a Family History Library mini-lab with about 40 computers.

The exhibit hall had two places to get free scanning. FamilySearch would scan a book for free. It either had to be out of copyright or you had be the copyright owner or get permission from the copyright owner. I took a Rochester history book for them to scan. When I came back 22 hours later, they were just finishing up checking to make sure they had scanned all the pages. I’ll tell you what book they scanned in a future post. The other company that was doing free scanning was Macavo. They would scan original documents, family trees and other historical documents. I didn’t take anything to them so I don’t know haw many documents they would scan nor how long it would take.

The exhibit hall had a media hub. There was a booth for TV and bloggers to do video interviews. Over 200 of these videos are already on YouTube and expect more over the next couple of weeks. There was another booth for audio recordings. Most of the popular bloggers were there and a bunch of less popular bloggers like me. There was one blogger from Australia and one that writes posts in Norwegian.

I heard that at the 2012 conference each person received a USB drive with the session schedule, hand-outs, maps, etc. This year all that was in my registration package was a printed book. Those that pre-registered did receive a notice ahead of time of a link to apps that could be downloaded with all the conference information. Those apps were available for iPad, iPhone, Android, Windows phone, Blackberry and PCs. Best of all, they had the most up to date information.

There were a few evening activities that I will post about ASAP.