We love it when a group arrives to use The Genealogy Center. The first thing we do when a group presents itself at the Ask Desk is to check our "Talks, Tours & Groups" notebook to see whether the group leader requested a tour when he or she called to schedule the visit. Tours are fun! And any of our librarians may give a group tour. Although we cover a lot of territory, this helps our visitors get a feel for how large the Center is, plus we can demonstrate some of the equipment and make a few jokes along the way. Afterward, everyone settles down to work, but group members are encouraged to approach the desk at any time to ask questions that vary from in-depth research queries to questions on which button to press to make a copy.
The tips we've passed along previously in this blog for individual visitors also apply to people coming in groups or on bus tours. Those include bringing a USB drive to download images of census, passenger lists and other documents; bringing $1 and $5 bills to charge copy cards; and bringing enough information to do research without bringing originals that could become lost. But visitors in groups have some special challenges to take into consideration.
Time is one factor with which groups have to contend. Time of arrival at The Genealogy Center, especially if a group tour is requested, is a vital piece of information for us. We will organize the day - including staff lunch hours and breaks - around the tour(s) that have been requested. If a group is more than 15 minutes late, it may throw our planning into disarray, so a quick phone call letting us know of any delay is appreciated. Arrival time is also important to the visitors. Every minute of a visit is valuable, and no one wants to waste vital research minutes. And time is vitally important on the last day of a visit, as the minutes slip quickly past.
What to bring is also important. If a visitor is away from home and without personal transportation, having all of those little things (that USB drive, an extra pad of paper, just the right pens or pencils, a sweater, and acetaminophen) may take on a greater importance than normal. On the other hand, one must remember that when bringing everything including the kitchen sink, the backpack or tote bag gets heavy after a while!
Sustenance is vital. It is permissible to have a granola bar and a water bottle tucked away in your bag to eat outside of The Genealogy Center, but please remember that no food or drink may be consumed inside the department. You might decide to go out to one of the many eateries in the vicinity (ask for a map of Downtown Eateries at the Ask Desk), or bring a full sack lunch to enjoy in the Great Hall of the library or on the Plaza. It's a personal choice whether to take a break for a refreshing meal or to save time by just having a quick nibble before returning to research.
Making photocopies as you discover new information is certainly preferable to waiting until the last minute of the day because everyone else may be doing the same thing, so, again, time management is important.
Visiting the Genealogy Center in groups or as part of a bus (or airplane!) tour has its advantages: Travel with people with whom you share an interest, most arrangements are organized for the group, and no driving. It also has its disadvantages: One is without personal transportation, on someone else's schedule, and you can't just decide at the last minute to stay another day. But generally, our visiting groups seem to have a productive research experience and an enjoyable adventure. So, if you hear about a group that is planning a trip to The Genealogy Center, why not come along? Or consider organizing a group yourself and share the fun.