Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Value of a SLIG Experience

There are ample reasons to opt for the experience of a genealogical institute. While some might think, "Conference? Institute? What's the difference?" I can say from experience that venue and schedule make a difference.

There are, of course, conference junkies out there. True confessions (in poorly-paraphrased form): but for the minor detail of a limited pocketbook, there would go I. I love conferences because I love learning. Added bonus: conferences mean people, and I love connecting with interesting people.

The down side: conference can only go so far as a learning opportunity. Conferences demand a business model that clears a profit by posing as all things to all people. Alas, conferences are not college semesters in length; the end result is a learning smorgasbord. Lots of topics times lots of speakers means many crowd pleasers. But that can't, at the same time, equate with in-depth learning.

Limit the number of topics offered, and there are less speakers to pay, but also a shift in the type of audience played to. Instead of people flitting from one lecture morsel to another, grazing the learning smorgasbord, this different learning model enables participants to broaden their understanding and deepen their expertise.

This learning model is not for everyone. A beginner might find the conference model suffices, much as a freshman benefits from taking prerequisites before declaring a college major. After a point, a learner reaches a level where conference fare loses its luster.

That second model of learning, of course, is the model upon which the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogyor SLIGis based. In a genealogical institutetaking more time than a conference, but providing a learning venue at roughly the same proportion of expensea participant takes five days to focus on, say, land records. Or, in my case, archives research.

Not to say we don't have fun. The SLIG committee is forever adding touches to transform the week into something as enjoyable as conference-going. We are pampered with ample breaks, receptions, banquet dinner, networking time and cushy buses to chauffeur us to the country's premier genealogical library, lest we dash our snow-laden foot against a frozen curb. What more could a genealogy enthusiast ask?

I hear at length from nationally-respected leaders. The main instructor for the class I'm attending is John Philip Collettaresearcher and author, true, but also popular lecturer. Since courses are team taught, I learn from other luminaries in the field, like Thomas W. Jones, who spoke to our class yesterday. To have the chance to connect with these instructors in person, through questions in class or conversation during breaks, is so much more convenient when not under pressure, as in conference settings, to rush off to the next one-hour sampler.

There are several genealogical institutes offered across the United States, but with a short flight, I can land in Salt Lake City, grab a ten buck shuttle to the host hotel, and spend the week with my favorite kind of people. Yes, I'll still attend conferences, but for true learning opportunities, nothing comes close to a genealogical institute experience.


  1. Replies
    1. I saw that forecast. Snow headed our way shouldn't be much of a problem, since we are so busy learning inside. Just hope it's clear enough to fly out of here at the end of the week :)

  2. Having read your post I am tempted.

    1. Oh, it is highly worth it, Jill. Although it would involve such a long trip for you, SLIG is turning international already. I noticed we have one instructor here this year from Sweden.


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