9 Things You Need To Know Before You Go to RootsTech/FGS

Family History Library Visitor TipsOne of my Albuquerque genealogy friends is going to RootsTech/FGS this week. It’s her first genealogy visit to Salt Lake City. She asked me for planning tips, and I am responding with this post at the last possible minute (sorry, Wendy). Here are the nine things I want her to know:

  1. Bring dimes. Lots of dimes. The Family History Library has lockers, and they cost a dime each time you lock them. When you unlock the locker to get something, you’ll need to put in another dime to lock it again. If you’re like me, you’ll put your stuff in, lock it, and then realize you forgot your Chap Stick. Then you’ll unlock it, get the Chap Stick out, and then lock it again. Then you’ll realize you forgot to take your Dramamine for the microfilm sickness, so you’ll need another dime. This will go on for five or six dimes, until you finally get your act together. Then you’ll do the same thing tomorrow. So bring dimes. 2017 update: My sources tell me you no longer need dimes. Ask at the microfilm desk, and they’ll give you tokens for the lockers for free. Woo hoo!
  2. Bring an extension cord. You can usually find a plug at the Family History Library, but they’re way behind those giant, antique microfilm readers. A standard phone/tablet cord is not long enough to reach. Also, the desk that the microfilm reader is sitting on has a light. It’s hard to find, but it’s under the area that looks like a little shelf. I’d been there five times before I ever knew about those lights. Edited to add: Judy Russell says that the under-shelf lights have a plug in them, so you can plug your stuff in without climbing behind the reader. How cool is that? 
  3. The TRAX system is awesome. Downtown Salt Lake City has a light rail system, and if you don’t use it, you’re wasting time and money. You can get from the airport to downtown for something like $2.50, and it doesn’t smell bad like those hotel shuttles do. If you’re not sure where your stop is or how to get to your hotel, ask one of the zillions of friendly people on the train. Utahns are freakishly friendly.
  4. Wear comfortable shoes. Seriously, you can wear whatever you want clothes-wise, but I implore you to wear comfortable shoes. The Salt Palace is huge, and your cute shoes will make you homicidal in the first half-hour. Plus…I mean, come on. It’s a genealogy conference, not a Miss America pageant. Nobody cares how cute you look. Cute is not really the point here. Embrace it.
  5. Go to the keynotes, even if you’re not a morning person. They’re usually pretty good, and there’s always buzz about the keynotes. Remember that one year when the guy did the whole thing barefoot? People are still talking about that guy. Don’t miss out on the thing people will be discussing all day. Also, if you know how to work Twitter, follow the #rootstech hashtag. Then you can talk with those of us who are watching the live stream at home. There’s nothing like talking smack about Barefoot Keynote Guy with your friends who are thousands of miles away, live, in realtime. We’re living in the Jetsons era, and it’s awesome.
  6. You can bring a bottle of water to the Family History Library, but you can’t have any other snacks/drinks. They have a little break room on the main floor, and it has a bunch of vending machines. Because I care about you, readers, I checked last month and determined that they DO have S’mores Pop-Tarts in one of those machines. You’re welcome. One thing they don’t have, though, is caffeine. There’s a pop machine, but even the Diet Coke is caffeine-free. Plan to meet your fuel needs before you arrive.
  7. There’s a fancy-schmancy shopping center within walking distance of everything. They have a Nordstrom. Those of you from big cities probably don’t care, but we here in places like Albuquerque do. Our fanciest store is a crappy Macy’s.
  8. There are things you’re required to post on social media. Everyone does this. If you don’t, you’re like the tree falling in the forest, except more boring. They are:
    • A photo of the view looking out your hotel room. You’ll see why when you get there. It’s a pretty town.
    • A photo of the Family History Library, because OMG YOU’RE HERE! And it’s SO EXCITING! And you’re about to have SO MUCH FUN!
    • A note that says where you’re seated in the library. If you have enough genealogy friends, you can just post the microfilm reader number, and people will know exactly what you’re talking about. It’s like Pig Latin for genealogists.
    • A note that says you’re eating, about to eat, or have just eaten at the Blue Lemon. Don’t want to eat there? Tough. You have to, at least once. These are the rules.
    • A note that says you’re eating, about to eat, or have just eaten at JB’s. If you’re a vegetarian, you get a waiver, because there’s not much for vegetarians there.
  9. Don’t worry about making friends, even if you’re a raging introvert. These are genealogists. They are already your friends. Just start talking.

What else do first-timers need to know?

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