September 6: Genealogist community
Improving in-person services
Discussions included services not only in Ottawa, but also in the Regional offices. The question was then opened to improving online and telephone services.
Participants discussed barriers to accessing in-person services: travel from remote locations, especially the North; repeated changes to the LAC website and to databases; and for those who are intimidated to enter a government institution.
Some solutions proposed were to have clearer information with inclusive language, including guides, booklets, YouTube videos, sample searches, streamlined access for those with accessibility issues, and a specific person to guide research for different groups. A chat function would help, but people still use the telephone, especially those with limited internet access.
Participants want more person-to-person contact with staff, but recognized that's resource-heavy. They suggested leveraging LAC social media to crowd-source answers. Further outreach was suggested as a way to bring more people in, especially younger people.
Those who had visited LAC in-person indicated satisfaction with the welcome by staff, liked the environment, and noted the LAC website provided useful information.
Participants recognized that LAC collaborative projects work well, such as Project Naming. They thought that documents could be curated to groups of specific genealogists or citizens to assist with projects that concern their location/area of expertise. For example, indexing or correcting census records transcriptions for their local community.
LAC should use lessons learned from previous partnerships, or from other organizations/institutions who have done similar work. A user-friendly website is important, as is being able to search, especially for genealogists for whom searching by last name makes a huge difference. Consider generating excitement for the public through project status updates, such as was done for the digitization of the Canadian Expeditionary Forces service files.
Many genealogists are volunteers who already work on projects locally. They are willing to collaborate, but there needs to be an exchange -- a mutually beneficial agreement.
Participants suggested that digitized content should be more easily accessible in a user-friendly structure.
There is an interest for more Indigenous documents to be indexed and digitized such as Residential Schools, treaties, and RG10. It can only move us forward.
Not everyone knows the word "Genealogy", especially beginners, and those with literacy issues. Suggestions for more inclusive language were ancestry, and person-finding or people-finding.
Direct contact with groups goes a long way towards creating a good relationship, so LAC should consider speaking at genealogical societies' meetings, conferences, or in community-based non-traditional locales such as the Scottish Games or Plowing Matches where there are thousands of visitors on-site.