Everyone has a different experience at these seminars (and I do realize that it is hard to give equal time to all participants) so keep in mind the following if you are planning to attend a research seminar:
- Correspond in advance with tour leaders to make sure you understand what is meant by any descriptions in the brochure, whether there are any changes to the schedule or tour personnel and how any paperwork you provide will be used during the seminar.
- Research in advance the facilities that are included on the tour so you know the hours, locations, rules, costs and resources available to you.
- Research any facilities not included in the tour but that you may want to visit so you can easily schedule a visit on your own.
- Get maps, restaurant reviews, suggestions for walking tours, and transportation information in advance of your trip from websites and/or tourist information offices. Put together a file folder so that you are not relying on the tour leaders - sometimes it is easier to do things on your own or in a small group than to go out en masse.
- Speak up during the tour if you feel there are shortcomings or if you do not feel you are getting what you paid for - hopefully it will be easier to fix a potential misunderstanding or corrections can be made during the trip.
- Make use of your own library, inter-library loans of easily obtained materials, loans of FHL materials, and on-line research resources so that you make the best use of your time at Archives or research facilities you are visiting on your trip.
For any organization providing genealogy research seminars, keep in mind that most participants have finite resources and differing research skills. They are depending on your expertise to assist them with their research, so keep the following in mind if you are the sponsoring organization:
- Provide what is listed in the seminar brochure or advise the participants why it is not being provided in advance of the trip. If changes are made last minute (as is often the case) you still need to convey this to participants and not wait for someone to point it out.
- If there are changes to personnel or facilities, explain them in advance of the trip. It is pretty easy to email or leave a phone message for participants. Alternatively, direct participants to check a Facebook page or blog site.
- Ask for feedback early on during the seminar - this can resolve a lot of misunderstanding among participants and oftentimes tour leaders can adjust schedules or make necessary changes to assist participants.
- Ask for feedback after the seminar and then acknowledge the participant's feedback.
- Determine in advance the skill level, research level and interest level of your participants. You will be better able to group participants and provide necessary assistance and/or organize the participants accordingly.
- Make sure participants are aware of and have been given the opportunity to exhaust local and/or online resources so that research time can be better spent with Archives and Library materials at the seminar sites.
Next time ~ Connecting up with Family in Newfoundland.