Time and date: Monday August 19, 2013 at 8:55 a.m.: The Genealogy Center looks great! Everything is on order, no books or microfilm left to shelve. The copiers are all full of paper and working perfectly, and the Allen County Public Library's IT Services have installed an extra bank of computers. The months of planning and hard work have made us ready. It's like when you plan a party at your house, and the happiness you feel just before the first guest arrives. For us, it's the week of the Federation of Genealogical Societies "Journey Through Generations" Conference and we open our doors to more than 1500 guests!
So now it's Friday. It's an understatement to say it's been a busy week for staff and volunteers of The Genealogy Center. The Conference has finished with Librarian's Day on Tuesday, Society Day on Wednesday, and on Thursday, with the Exhibits Opening and a fabulous Keynote Session with Richard Aquila speaking about the origins of Rock 'n' Roll. He discussed its reflection of culture of the time, and the importance of understanding the culture in which one's ancestors lived. Other great sessions, workshops and luncheons, along with the opportunity to share experiences with other genealogists, have made this a wonderful experience.
Of course, most of the staff and many volunteers of The Genealogy Center haven't been able to take advantage of the full experience because we are also providing research opportunities, even adding a total of eighteen extra research hours to our regular schedule so that conference attendees would not have to skip sessions to exploring collection. During sessions, the crowds thin out as everyone is busy learning over at the Grand Wayne Center. But during breaks, and especially before and after sessions, The Genealogy Center is packed. There are books waiting to be shelved that will probably have to wait until next week. We've had to call the copier repairman (and thanks to him that he came so quickly!), and IT Services have responded to our cries for help, but it's all good. I think people are having a good time here and at the Conference.
The one type of question that I've gotten the most (besides directions to the restrooms!) is along the lines of "are you exhausted" and "I'll bet you'll be glad when this is over." Well, yes, I am tired, and I sleep very well these nights. But once I begin to interact with our visitors, listening and answering questions, trying to solve problems, the energy of the researchers and the conference attendees re-energizes me and I'm not tired anymore. Several staff members don't spend much time at the Convention Center, being needed to anchor The Center, but we still feel part of the activities.
And will we be glad when it's over? Well, you couldn't host a party every day, staff and volunteers probably couldn't sustain the energy levels indefinitely. But there will be a tremendous sadness when it's over. These conferences are a great deal of work, but they also provide a high level of enjoyment for us, too. We enjoy the questions. We like the fact that everyone is so happy to be here. We love the breakthroughs and trying to find new possibilities of research.
We still have the rest of today and the Special Event tonight in the Great Hall of the Allen County Public Library, Saturday's sessions luncheons and workshops, and the Farewell Brunch on Sunday morning, so we, and you, have lots of fun left, but I wanted to provide an answer to questions about how we feel. We feel great!