For anyone going to RootsTech later this week, it's going to be hard to miss BYU's presence.
RootsTech, a family history and technology conference held in Salt Lake City, began in 2011 and is now the largest conference of its kind in the world. Last year nearly 24,000 participants attended the conference, with thousands of additional remote participants.
BYU has been involved in RootsTech since the conference began. This year, most of the BYU departments participating in the conference are coming together to form one big booth with interactive stations, a demo area, resources and more.
“It will be a one-stop shopping place,” said Amy Harris, associate professor of history and coordinator of the BYU Family History program. “People will be able to get help, use all of our resources and have educators nearby if they have any questions.”
In the past, the departments attending the event set up individual booths, making it challenging for attendees to find the right BYU booth.
“People got confused last year because there were so many different booths,” said Jill Crandell, director of the Center for Family History and Genealogy at BYU. “Many people would skip over some of the BYU booths because they thought that all the booths were the same.”
Over the past year, seven departments have come together to plan for RootsTech 2016: The Center for Family History and Genealogy, Family History Program/Degree, Family History Library, Special Collections, Computer Science, Print & Mail and Bachelor of General Studies/Independent Studies. The idea behind collaborating and forming one large booth was to raise awareness.
“We want to raise the profile of what BYU is doing,” said Harris. “No other university invests in family history the way BYU does. For example, BYU is the only university that grants a bachelor's degree in family history.”
Information on the bachelor’s program is one of the many resources that will be available at BYU’s booth. Visitors to BYU's booth will able to use many student-made project sites for their own family history research. Students majoring in family history that have worked on these projects will be at the booth to help assist.
Not only will the resources be available to the participants at RootsTech, but they are also available on BYU’s campus. For students, elective classes and BYU Independent Study courses are available. In addition, classes in BYU's Harold B. Lee Library are available to the public.
“Come see what we’re doing,” said Crandell. “We have many services to help you learn how to do family history, and to help you publish and research and learn about your family. Come join us and learn what we can do!”
BYUtv will also be participating in RootsTech. On February 28, a new show called Relative Race will debut on BYUtv. RootsTech attendees will get to see a sneak preview of the show on February 5, at 1:30 p.m., in room 150.
When asked about the premise of the show, Director of Content at BYU Broadcasting Scott Swofford gave a little teaser.
“What if you had to get from San Francisco to New York, in a race against other couples, and you could only stay with people you are related to?” he said.
Swofford said after contestants are DNA-tested and relatives are found, they will be sent to face challenges as they journey across the country.
BYU is looking forward to having a prevalent spot in RootsTech 2016. Those involved are looking forward to showing the public the resources BYU has readily available to them and helping people improve their family history and genealogy knowledge.