Friday 24 February 2012

Who do you think you are? - Live is here again

It's not the calm before the storm; it's the storm before the storm. The Thursday before Who Do You Think You Are? - Live is a busy day at The National Archives. Yesterday was no exception. It was so busy that we came very close to running out of seats in the document reading rooms, and you should have seen the queues in thw public restaurant! We also had the biggest crowd ever for a public talk, our very own star performer, Dr Paul Carter, talking about workhouses, or, more specifically, why people feared them so much. That man is a hard act to follow! For the people who missed him (including the coach party from Yorkshire stuck in traffic, with Jackie Depelle sending progress reports on Twitter!) there are two chances to hear him at WDYTY?-Live, today and on Sunday.

The reason is, of course, that lots of people come to London for WDYTYA?-Live and take the opportunity to do some research while they are here. It would be interesting to know if other repositories in the London area have the same rise in reader numbers;  it's also one of the busiest days of the year for the Society of Genealogists because the good folks there are busily packing up quite a chunk of their library to decamp to Olympia for the duration of the show. Newcomers to family history may not realise that for many years before WDYTYA?-Live, the premier annual event in London was the SoG Family History Fair. This is now part of the bigger event, and visitors will always notice a considerable SoG presence. Before I took on the present day job I used to be one of the volunteers who helped set up and break down at the old venue, the Royal Horticultural Society Halls in Westminster. I was very good at putting up signposts and folding table covers.

This year I shall be there all three days, Friday and Saturday as part of my job, and on Sunday I shall be there just for the fun of it. This is the kind of thing I choose to do in my spare time. Sad, but true. I shall be doing some 'Ask the experts' shifts on the FamilySearch stand today, and in the SoG Ask the Experts area tomorrow. I am also on stage tomorrow giving a session on The National Archives new Discovery service. In between I shall be around and about (motto 'I don't gossip, I network) in the hall, with at least one meeting and a radio interview.

Well, since I started writing this post I have arrived at Olympia, which is busying up nicely. Let's see what the day brings. Wagons roll...

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