Joe Everett is a genealogist at FamilySearch working to help people discover their family history. He recently returned to FamilySearch, after spending 7 1/2 years at Ancestry.com, working to put new databases online. Joe is currently managing an international team of research consultants who assist people at the Family History Library and worldwide through Internet learning tools. Joe was previously the head of International Reference at the Family History Library, and also worked for several years there as a technical services librarian, cataloging Slavic and Germanic records. Joe earned a B.A. in Russian Language and in Family History/Genealogy (Germanic emphasis) from Brigham Young University and a Master of Library Science from Emporia State University (Kansas). He has been a member of various library and genealogical associations and has lectured and published articles on Germanic & Slavic family history and Central & East European historical geography and migration.

16 August 2011

Lifelong Learning

It has been said that the more you know, the more you realize you don't know.  I have found that is as true of genealogy as any other subject.  I have recently stepped up my efforts to expand my genealogical knowledge by reading more and attending more conferences.  I have attended three conferences so far this year, and renewed subscriptions to three major genealogical publications, with a goal to read each one before the next issue comes out.  (Harder than it sounds.)  I have also started reading more genealogy blog posts and listening to more to podcasts.  One might thing that after a while, this would all get quite repetitive and I would run out of new things to learn.  I mean, how much can one say about any topic, let alone genealogy?  Yet, I am continually amazed that, with each new blog post or article I read, conference lecture I attend, or podcast I listen to, I learn something new--often multiple things.  After 20 years at this, I feel like I am still just scratching the surface of the available knowledge.  It is both exciting and overwhelming, but I guess that is also part of why it is so addicting.  The more I learn, the more I want to learn.

I have been referred to by some as a genealogy expert, but one thing every "expert" should know is that the moment you declare yourself an expert, that is the moment that you risk stagnating.  Every moment of every day, there are new ideas, new methods, and new technologies being discovered that you don't yet know anything about, not to mention the fact that the body of knowledge is already so vast that one person can not possibly know it all.  Rather than aspire to become experts, we should aspire to an awareness of the need to never stop learning, and to develop the information literacy skill to continue learning all our lives.

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