Last month the Federation of Genealogy Societies (FGS) met in Knoxville, Tn., just 90 miles west of my home. FGS offers a free Librarian’s Day, and have been doing that since the 1990s at each of its conferences. Since it was free and since it was a short, tolerable drive to Knoxville, I went. And, since it had some relevance to a reference question about local genealogists-for-hire that I fielded earlier this summer, I thought it would provide a good opportunity to network with other librarians with interests in genealogy.
First of all, Knoxville’s traffic is much improved since they completed the work on I40. It’s easy, breezy to whip downtown and to UT’s campus. Librarian’s Day was at the Knoxville Hilton. We convened in a large conference room and various experts talked to us. The focus, naturally, was Tennessee historical and genealogical resources. Even though I feel like I “know it all” when it comes to my state, I learned a few new things. J. Mark Lowe brought us up to speed on Tennessee Frontier Records up to 1850.
Amazingly many of the librarians in attendance were not from Tennessee. I spoke with a librarian who drove up from SOUTH Texas in their RV to attend. And there were two librarians from Washington State there, as well. Yeah, they do crazy give-aways for people who’ve attended the most Librarian’s Days, or who traveled the farthest.
Admittedly I was out of my element. There were possibly a dozen or so of us (out of 170) who were under 50.
Dr. Wayne Moore of the Tennessee State Library and Archives spoke about the state’s records management outreach to counties and share photos of county records that were dumped in abandoned gymnasiums, flooded in basements, and other misappropriations of valuable records that make audience members sigh, moan, and shake their fists in vengeful manners.
Those were the before shots. Then Moore shared photos of counties who rebounded from county record neglect to showcasing, organizing, and preserving their records in various abandoned, but refurbished county buildings such as jails. There were several in jails, actually.
The best part of the day was the Q & A with David Ferriero, THE Archivist of the United States. I admit, that after hearing him speak and watching him at a podium for about an hour, that I have an archival crush on him. His appearance reminded me a small bit of William H. Macy. The photo they feature of him at the archives’ homepage does not do him justice. Ferriero’s charm, wit, and personality shone through as he talked about his professional path to his present position. And his professional background prior to becoming Archivist impressed the sandals right off my feet: NYPL, MIT, Duke. All institutions that I hold in great esteem.
Then there was a bit about electronic records archives. Something I recall from that talk was a chart showing the number of electronic records generated by Bush as opposed to Clinton. Bush’s outnumbered Clinton’s vastly. And I learned that the US government generated ONE BILLION pages of electronic records EACH DAY. Whoa. It boggles the mind.
Then, we finished up by meeting Steven Cotham who manages the McClung Historical Collection that is part of the Knox County Public Library. The last time I visited the McClung Collection had to be prior to 2005, because that’s when they finished a major expansion and renovation. The space is lovely. The staff is helpful.
I visited the McClung Collection last week to follow up on research I did about the librarian who organized and cataloged the Collection after it was given to Lawson McGhee Library in 1918, or 1919. That librarian was Laura Elizabeth Luttrell.
So anyway, that brings me up to date on describing my professional development activities this summer. Here’s to more this fall and winter.