Interview with Josh Taylor: Big News from FGS

D. Joshua Taylor

[Editor’s Note: Given last week’s huge announcement about the FGS 2015 conference being held in tandem with RootsTech, we sat down with Josh Taylor, President of the Federation of Genealogical Societies, for an update on the latest developments at FGS.]

The biggest news from last week’s FGS 2013 conference and one which seemed to catch many off-guard is related to the FGS 2015 Conference. The event will be held 12-14 February 2015 in Salt Lake City, Utah and in tandem with RootsTech. Why did FGS decide to take this approach for its national conference?

If the 1940 Census project taught us anything, it demonstrated that we are stronger when we partner and collaborate, something the FGS and RootsTech 2015 event will be all about. When looking at locations for future conferences, FGS has had a tradition of returning to Salt Lake City every 5 or 10 years. For 2015, we wanted to offer a unique experience for the nation’s genealogists. We strongly feel that the RootsTech community can benefit from being “exposed” to the best of the FGS Conference, and also strongly believe that the FGS community can learn a lot from the RootsTech crowd. It is about bringing the “best of the best” to Salt Lake City for an event. The potential for society leaders to interact with developers and others who attend RootsTech has the potential to help society’s make leaps forward.

What about after 2015? Will future FGS conferences also be held in tandem with RootsTech?

I can tell you with certainty that locations have already been booked for future conference years beyond 2015. The event held in tandem with RootsTech is a one-time arrangement at this point. Simply put, the FGS Conference is NOT going away after 2015 or combining permanently with RootsTech.

How do you think the FGS 2015 decision will impact future conference planning for other genealogy organizations?

We wanted to ensure we announced the decision early enough to allow other organizations and our attendees to plan their schedules for 2015. In addition, FGS is working on an event for August/September 2015 that will be announced in the coming months.

A new FGS App was also announced next week. Can you tell us how the app was developed, the features it includes and any future plans for added functionality?

In the past FGS has spent resources to develop mobile apps for a specific conference. Because FGS is more than just a conference, we wanted to create an app that could be used year-round. The same individual who worked on our conference registration system and is fully integrated with registration and other important elements developed the app. Most importantly, the app reads into the Society Hall database from the fgs.org website, providing access to society listings to any mobile device user. As far as future plans? We are waiting to gauge reaction and will expand and add features as needed.

One HUGE announcement that seemed to get buried in all the other FGS news is the Dell Discount program for FGS members. How does the Dell plan work and what discounts are included?

Part of our goal at FGS is to seek out benefits for our member societies that offer access to technology. The Dell program offers discounts on various products sold through the FGS Member Store. Discounts can be as much as 35% and cover more than just computers: software, printers, and accessories are also included. The discount is open to the friends and family of FGS (our member societies, their members, and others within the community).

Finally, FGS 2014 in San Antonio, Texas will be here before you know it, 27-30 August 2014. Can you give us an update on the conference and what attendees can expect?

San Antonio is such a terrific destination; I think attendees can expect a fun, entertaining, and educational week. A few things “in the works” are revisions to Focus on Societies Day and luncheons. While not wanting to give too much away, a few evening events have been planned that will provide attendees with a taste of San Antonio’s food and culture.

©2013, copyright Thomas MacEntee

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