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Monday, November 7, 2011

SLIG: A Unique and Rewarding Experience (Josh Taylor)




With the multitude of educational opportunities available for genealogists it can be difficult to choose which to attend. While webinars, conferences, and seminars each provide essential elements to your genealogical education, an institute, such as the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) offers a rich and unique experience for every genealogist.

First, the ability to spend an entire week immersed in a particular subject provides untold benefits, as it enables us to focus on our research as we learn techniques and skills from some of the world's leading instructors. Like a college "short-course" week, SLIG provides an in-depth look a variety of subjects, from Technology to Advanced Methodology. In addition, SLIG offers evening courses in case you wanted to explore a topic not covered in your chosen course. With courses for genealogists of all levels, SLIG can be a solid foundation for beginning genealogists or an added skillset for advanced researchers.

Second, the consistency of highly-skilled instructors in your throughout the week. Not only do you truly get to know your course coordinator, most courses include a set number of instructors that will be with you throughout the week. This provides an opportunity to develop deeper questions, and in some cases can literally tailor the course to your own research needs. Instructors will provide their own personal knowledge to the course, enriching your experience. Hearing one or two approaches to the same topic can provide you with a deeper level of understanding and more ideas. SLIG is truly a place to learn and expand your genealogical knowledge. 

Third, the small course sizes (usually around 30) provide an incredible opportunity to network with your fellow classmates. Take time to learn about their research and experience, as they might even have some advice for you, or you for them. SLIG certainly offers the ability to collaborate and learn from another other, a unique offering in genealogical education. Most meals are unscheduled, offering the chance to spend a few moments alone or join some of your classmates for a quick bite. Ensure you make the most of this networking opportunity; you might meet a few cousins as well as some lifelong friends. 

Fourth, an added benefit of SLIG is its location - only a few blocks from the Family History Library. This means you have an immediate opportunity to practice what you have been learning in the classroom. The ability for this "hands-on" element of your week in Salt Lake City often helps in retaining the information you are learning each day. Within a few moments after each day ends you can easily find yourself wrapped up in the sources and methods you discovered only moments ago in class.

Finally, SLIG can often solidify your research goals for the New Year. After spending a week engrossed in family history it is difficult to loose the momentum when you return home. SLIG provides the perfect setting to create your genealogical goals for the year. Many participants leave SLIG with their "to-do" lists ready and can quickly jump into their research when they return home.

While it might seem a bit overwhelming, SLIG is a week not to be missed for any genealogist. With constant learning and innovative new research ideas, opportunities to network with others, and hands-on research in the Family History Library, SLIG might well be considered heaven for genealogists!

~ D. Joshua Taylor

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