I belong to the Facebook page “I have more books than friends”. It’s not a high-volume site, but their posts are interesting, and I find it very comfy to belong there, sort of like relaxing on the couch with an interesting read. I’ve rarely met a book I didn’t like, especially where the topic is history or genealogy or some associated subject.
I’ve gotten over the fact that my daughter has utilized online textbooks for a few years now, though she occasionally stresses the seams of her backpack. I love the ability to download new books, and to find out-of-print books online. I keep thinking that I should have saved space by now using digital books instead of more tall shelves, but alas, I need more shelves. A couple of people who shall go unnamed have gently suggested that I might prune my library. Ummm, no.
I mention this because of a startling development in the RootsTech 2012 Conference (www.rootstech.org). This is an annual conference geared toward genealogy through technology – a very worthy undertaking and an educational opportunity that many of us cannot do without. I say that not having attended the conference personally, but by virtue of reading and hearing tons of useful output from it last year. This year, however, the RootsTech group has decided that we really only need that technology to do our research, that technology is the only concern one would have while immersed in their educational seminars.
They have banned booksellers from the conference.
I’m all for technology. It makes my life easier, and at times, it’s darn fun. I hope the group at RootsTech will rethink their position, though. If you close your eyes and sniff a Kindle (please forward me photos if you do), does it have that paper pulp woody smell, or the leatherbound feel of a slightly worn favorite book? Maybe it’s possible to have a book’s author sign their work from your mobile phone app, but won’t it slide off into mobile oblivion when you run your fingers over it? (yes, this could be an issue with me and my touch screen Android, but I digress) And honestly, for those purists out there (makes guilty face), is a digital image really the exact same thing as the original page from the book that's in your hand? Seriously, can you imagine a major genealogy conference without booksellers (who also sell technology books)? I say pish-posh.
To assume that attendees at RootsTech 2012 would not want to peruse the many booksellers of the genealogical sphere is absurd. A book is still a book. I have autographed genealogy books that, to me, are absolute treasures. Why not be a well-rounded genealogist, and utilize technology AND good old-fashioned books? That’s what I’ve done, and will continue to do. Hopefully, RootsTech will re-examine their position, and remember that kindness and sharing takes the genealogist just as far as technology, and sometimes, just a little bit farther.