by Melissa

A conference changed my life! But it wasn't a genealogy conference, instead it was the American Library Association Conference. As a graduate student, I attended the conference to interview for academic positions though I worked in a genealogy department of a public library. During the conference, I attended a discussion on a new genealogy database. During that hour, I heard conversations that inspired and motivated me. At one point, someone in the room asked my opinion on the subject and I found myself responding with examples and ideas. It was revelatory. I had been so determined to become an academic librarian, I had ignored the possibility of aligning my career path with my passion for genealogy. This was the defining moment for my career aspirations and it took place during a genealogy discussion at a professional conference.

Fast forward several years, and conferences are still leaving their mark. It does not matter whether it is a local, state, regional, or national conference or if I'm a participant or attendee, I always walk away with something new. Conferences are fascinating to me because I enjoy instruction and learn some new technique, methodology, resource, or tidbit every time. As someone who is intrigued by social dynamics and since genealogy brings together so many people of varying backgrounds, it is interesting to also watch the dramatically different presentation styles of the lecturers. But the best part of genealogy conferences are the interactions with other attendees. Each of us has a shared interest in genealogy and related fields such as history, DNA, and technology. Our conversations can divert into so many other tangents, but it always begins with genealogy and that connection.