Digital vs. Print – Where do you stand?

by Kathryn Doyle (6/16/2008)

Last week many genealogy blogs published the news release sent by Leland Meitzler of Everton Publishers announcing the new Online Edition of Everton’s Genealogical Helper. The electronic publication, which debuts on July 1, 2008 with the July/August issue, will be identical to the paper edition but with added hyperlinks to the Web site addresses published within its pages.

Diane Haddad, managing editor of Family Tree Magazine and its primary blogger at Genealogy Insider, went a step further and asked Would You Read an Online Magazine? referencing Dick Eastman’s recent post Printed Newsletters and Magazines are Disappearing. Diane summed up the debate in one sentence:

The entire publishing industry is caught up in the “digital vs. print” discussion, with some swearing it’s just a matter of time before all print publications go away, and others insisting people always will want to curl up with a paper magazine or book.

Genealogical societies are also grappling with the new paradigm. The News & Notes, the Southern California Genealogical Society quarterly, announced that the May/June/July issue will be the final print version delivered to members’ mailboxes. Editor Alice Fairhurst noted that it is “transitioning to virtual… due to the rising cost of postage, and the fact that most people have internet access.

The California Genealogical Society and Library publishes news and information in three formats: a print newsletter (the CGS News), an electronic newsletter (the CGS e-News) and this blog. In response to the suggestion that this might be information overkill, CGS News Editor and former school administrator, Jane Hufft, quotes the old rule in teaching – “eight repetitions for the average learner.”

Each of the society’s periodicals have unique attributes that are not duplicated in the other two.

The CGS News, a benefit of membership published bimonthly and mailed to members’ homes, features lists of the society’s newest members and their research surnames and places; lists of new books and media in the library and original content, such as Nancy Peterson’s two-part report “Post-1906 Immigration and Naturalization Records.”

The CGS e-News, started last year by President Jane Lindsey with the technical assistance of Kathy Watson, is a monthly electronic newsletter that is e-mailed to all society members who have e-mail addresses (currently 93% of members) and to non-member subscribers. The e-News publishes CGS Ancestors, a place where members can submit interesting old family photographs with a bit of history; Suggested Links from the Blogsphere and Did You Miss These Posts from the CGS Blog?

The California Genealogical Society and Library Blog recently celebrated its six-month “blogiversary” and continues to experiment with new ways to promote society events and feature the work of its volunteers.

There is one significant difference between the CGS print periodical and the electronic ones – the way that readership is measured. Traditional media report the number of subscribers or the number of issues printed. We know how many copies of the CGS News are printed and mailed out to members and subscribing societies but we don’t really know how many of these issues are actually read.

With electronic media we have a few more tools in the toolbox. Constant Contact, the e-mail, marketing and survey software used to produce the CGS e-News, provides a report to users that tells how many of the e-mails are actually opened. The results, although high by industry standards, are disappointing: only about 53% of members actually open their CGS e-News.

Blog statistics, such as the number of visits to a blog, or the number of page views, are readily available from sites like Sitemeter or ClustrMaps.

At least for the now, CGS members have three unique periodicals they can read to obtain society news. Which do you prefer?

Breaking Down Brick Walls – July 12, 2008

by Kathryn Doyle (6/9/2008)

Brick WallJuly Membership Meeting
Breaking Down Brick Walls, a Panel Discussion

Saturday, July 12, 2008
1:00 p.m.
CGS Library
2201 Broadway, Suite LL2, Oakland, California

For the July membership meeting, the California Genealogical Society is experimenting with a new kind of presentation. Breaking Down Brick Walls brings together three active and knowledgeable CGS board members for a panel discussion of the tools they use to dismantle genealogical barriers. CGS News Editor Jane Hufft, CGS Research Director Nancy Peterson and “Lookup” Maven, Lavinia Schwarz will present their most challenging research problems and the unique strategies they used to solve them.

Nancy Peterson is the CGS Research Director and author of Raking the Ashes, Genealogical Strategies for pre-1906 San Francisco Research. Nancy is a Stanford graduate and certified genealogist.

Lavinia Schwarz’s unique journey into the archives of New Orleans in search of her great-great grandmother, a free woman of color, yielded many important strategies for breaking down not only brick walls, but the invisible walls that so often block our reasoning. Lavinia graduated from Cal with an English major and holds a master’s in education.

Jane Hufft, editor of the CGS Newsletter, has had several articles appear in genealogical publications and has been at work on her own research for many years, developing strategies that go from the paper card catalog days of the Salt Lake City Family Library to the Internet. A Cal graduate in sociology and former school administrator, Jane has a master’s in education.

Please note that the short membership meeting starts promptly at 1:00 p.m. The panel discussion follows at 1:30 p.m. There will be handouts for the audience and time for questions and answers.

Alameda County Fair Genealogy Booth

by Kathryn Doyle (6/4/2008)

Volunteers Needed!
June 20 – July 6, 2008
The Livermore-Amador Genealogical Society (L-AGS) is gearing up for the annual Genealogy Booth at the 2008 Alameda County Fair. This is the ninth year that the society has organized and staffed the popular station in the fair’s Technology Adventures Building at the Alameda County Fairgrounds, located at Valley Avenue and Bernal Avenue in Pleasanton, California.

CGS member and L-AGS Fair Booth Coordinator, Kay Speaks, sent the following:
We are inviting other genealogy societies, DAR Chapters, FHC docents, historical societies and library genealogy docents to join us in this fun and very rewarding endeavor. Want to reserve an entire day for your organization? Please contact the fair booth coordinator to reserve a convenient date.”

The genealogy booth is one of the most popular attractions at the seventeen-day fair, where hundreds of people get their first exposure to the genealogy bug. The booths are equipped with computers, laser printers and Internet access. Each session has three research docents and two greeters scheduled. Many volunteers, like CGS member Lorna Wallace, have wonderful stories to share from past years so organizers are promoting the event as “An Experience You Will Want to Repeat Year After Year.”

The Livermore-Amador Genealogical Society serves the cities of Livermore, Pleasanton and Dublin and surrounding areas in the Livermore and Amador Valleys of southeastern Alameda County, in the San Francisco Bay Area. The society was formed in June 1977 by student participants of a Livermore Adult Education Class. General meetings are held at 7:30 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month at Congregation Beth Emek, 3400 Nevada Court, Pleasanton. The Society, in cooperation with the City of Pleasanton Library, maintains the largest collection of genealogical materials in the Valley, numbering over 1000 books.

For additional information about volunteering, e-mail Kay Speaks.