21 September 2011

Free Genealogical Webinars - Act Fast!

October is designated as "Family History Month.” Are you interested in researching your ancestors? Looking for the family’s black sheep? Don’t know how or where to get started? Perhaps we can help.

Genealogical research is very personal and context is key to a successful result. Each researcher has to deal with a unique set of circumstances, personalities, and potential sources of information for each and every person on their family tree. A basic understanding of the history of the places, times, and, surviving records relating thereto is crucial to the research process. As Anonymous once said:
Genealogy begins as an interest,
Becomes a hobby;
Continues as an avocation,
Takes over as an obsession,
And in its last stages,
Is an incurable disease.

Although one has to always remember “There is no ultimate database that has every record ever,” there are some fine genealogical databases available. Numbering among those fine resources is Ancestry Library Edition (abbreviated as ALE).

It’s best to think of ALE as a conglomeration of other databases. It is a massive resource, containing over 7,000 record collections directly relevant to family history research. And, it's not cheap. With the County mandated budget cuts for FY 12, providing this resource to our customers costs almost 30% of the BDC budget for materials (includes books, magazines, DVDs, CD-ROMs, and archival ephemera). Because ALE is a key resource for anyone doing family history research, the BDC provides it to all the branch libraries as well as in the BDC Research Room.
You have to sign up to use our public computers (which is available free to valid BCL card-holders) to access the full ALE database.

We are committed to doing one ALE workshop per calendar year (and did so in 2011, at the Hilton Head Branch, in February). Announcements for BDC sponsored genealogy related workshops appear in here in Connections no less than one month before presentation. But “once is not enough,” and we know it.

Q: So what are some other ways can we help you learn the features of ALE?

A: We can tell you about free ALE training webinars through ProQuest, our vendor for ALE!

There are four upcoming opportunities for you to sign up for the free ProQuest training webinars:

Thurs., Sept. 29, 2011 1:00 pm Overview of ALE
Tues., Oct. 4, 2011 1:00 pm ALE - US Focus
Tues., Oct. 11, 2011 9:00 am ALE - UK & Ireland Focus
Wed., Oct. 26, 2011 4:00 pm ALE - US Focus

The most daunting aspect of the registration process is the URL, choosing the Genealogy section, and then selecting the session(s) you'd like to attend online! You don't have to limit yourself to just one session either.

According to Linda Cubias, MLIS, Supervisor, Customer Education & Training, Eastern U.S., for ProQuest,

• Anyone can attend with an internet connection (including WiFi) from any computer.
• Here are the technical requirements for the computer (included here by operating system).
• For any users that have difficulties joining a webinar, there are recordings available later.

Registrants have two audio options for the ProQuest ALE webinars: An audio broadcast through your computer headset/speakers; or, call in using the toll-free phone number that is included in your email invitation to join the meeting (sent to you after you register directly with ProQuest. We won't have this information to give to you!).
If you have any trouble with home or office access to the training sessions for ALE, contact Linda Cubias, MLIS, Supervisor, Customer Education & Training office +1 704 947 8170 mobile +1 240 672 5695 or linda.cubias@proquest.com.
Please note: Beaufort County Library staff are not able troubleshoot your technical difficulties with personal computing equipment.

To show the difference a little professional reference librarian intermediation can make -

Hilton Head Branch will set up its computer lab to receive the online webinar on Tues., Oct. 4th at 1:00 pm. Space is limited. Registration is required. Call the Hilton Head Branch Reference Desk 255-6525 no later than Mon., Oct. 3rd at 1 :00 pm to register.

BYOL (as in “Bring your own laptop” – with sufficient battery power to last 2 hours) to the BDC Research Room on Thurs., Sept. 29, 2011 1:00 pm for access to the online ALE webinar. Space is limited to 2 registrants. Be sure to allot enough time to set up WiFi access before the webinar training. We will be available to answer questions about ALE for an hour after the webinar session. Pre-registration is required. Call the BDC Research Room Reference Desk at 255-6468 to register. Deadline to attend the BDC Research Room session is Wed., Sept. 28th at 1:00 pm.

St. Helena Branch will project the online webinar on Wed., Oct. 26th at 4:00 pm. Registration is limited to 12 persons. Registration is required. Contact Branch Manager Maria Benac at 255-6486 or mbenac@bcgov.net by Sat., Oct. 22nd to attend.
Why not get a no cost basic orientation to the ALE database through one of these webinars offered by ProQuest as part of your observance of “Family History Month”?

A final way that the BDC helps genealogical researchers is to offer research consultation appointments during our regular working hours. We do our best to guide family historians to possible records with the answers to your questions. Our specialty, not surprisingly, is the old Beaufort District (Beaufort, Jasper and Hampton Counties), South Carolina state records, and Federal records relating to the southeastern US. Call me at 255-6446 to arrange a professional reference librarian consultation session. Advance notice is much appreciated - and be sure to bring along what you already have on the family members in which you are most interested!

The Beaufort District Collection Research Room is customarily open Mondays through Fridays, 10 am until 5 pm.

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