Thursday, August 19, 2010

I Support the CGSSD Merger with SDGS

After reviewing and digesting the Pros, Cons, and the Discussion points provided in Proposal to merge CGSSD with SDGS - Pros and Cons, here are my analyses, thoughts and opinions:

* For the CGSSD only member, a merger is an emotional loss of something valued and enjoyed, although the promises of continuing many CGSSD activities within SDGS may be fulfilled. CGSSD was essentially a one day a month morning with a user group and a speaker.

* For the SDGS only member, a merger means that there will be more learning opportunities and more variety in the classes, programs and newsletter (if the promises are kept).

* For the person with membership in both CGSSD and SDGS, the merger takes away a day of San Diego genealogy learning and networking, although some of this may be replaced by more learning opportunities. Basically, it cuts total society meeting attendance from six hours to three. It will mean a net reduction in dues paid each year. It will also mean one more Saturday in which to pursue personal or client research.

* For the collector of San Diego genealogy newsletters, it means the end of the COMPU.GEN quarterly newsletter as we know it - chock full of computer genealogy information. The promises that content similar to what is in COMPU.GEN will be included in the SDGS Newsletter may be fulfilled, but adding more pages to the monthly SDGS Newsletter will be a cost and editing challenge for SDGS. An email only newsletter sent to interested members may be a solution. An active SDGS blog with helpful computer genealogy information may be a better solution.

* There are three major problems with CGSSD continuing as we know it: the lack of volunteers to lead the society, the parking problem at UCSD, and the lack of another venue with sufficient meeting spaces with wireless computer access if the society leaves the UCSD venue. The parking problem is a killer for meetings at UCSD, and the society will lose UCSD as a venue if and when Gary Hoffman retires from UCSD. Using another venue, and having to pay rental fees, would probably increase in CGSSD membership costs. CGSSD is working the venue problem.

* The major problem with a combined society as SDGS is that the current meeting venue is not satisfactory for user groups like CGSSD was hosting, and the main meeting area may be overcrowded with another 150 members (not all will attend, of course, but many will). The challenge is to find a larger venue with several meeting rooms, and all with wireless computer access. SDGS is working this problem.

* It is possible, even likely, that the SDGS Library could accommodate more user groups and computer classes on Saturdays (except for the SDGS program meeting day) or another day of the week.

* A benefit for SDGS is that the average age of CGSSD members is significantly lower than that of SDGS members, so SDGS may "look" younger, and be able to tap into some of the computer knowledge of CGSSD members.

* A benefit for current CGSSD-only members is exposure to the broader genealogy world of research in repositories, program speakers, seminars and conferences on all genealogical topics.

* The Discussion indicated that the current San Diego-area genealogical meeting calendar at will be incorporated into the SDGS website. There has been some discussion of a members-only area on the SDGS website - I really don't like members-only areas; I never used the CGSSD members-only area, and wonder if anyone did? I guess the SDGS Board thinks that
there may be a financial gain to be made with such a members-only area, but I'm not sure how much use it would get.

* The current leadership of SDGS is very forward thinking, energetic, enthusiastic, supportive and nurturing. SDGS provides two yearly seminars with renowned speakers, takes yearly trips to the Genealogy Jamboree, Los Angeles Public Library, Allen County Public Library and the Family History Library, and currently has weekly Wednesday morning classes at the SDGS Library. They are excellent fundraisers, and have kept SDGS solvent through occasional lean times over the past 20 years, even with the library rental space charges. I have high confidence in the ability of SDGS to make the merger happen efficiently so that it is a major plus for all members.

* The challenge for the merged society will be to keep everybody happy - current and new SDGS members - by providing more user groups and classes at the SDGS library, more computer oriented speakers at the program meetings, perhaps more hours on the program Saturdays, and a larger venue with wireless computer access.

* I support the merger of CGSSD and SDGS for the reasons stated - especially because of the problems with UCSD parking and leadership, but also because of the potential opportunities for education of all San Diego area genealogists in both traditional and computer genealogy research.

How do my SDGS and CGSSD colleagues feel about the merger? What would you suggest SDGS do to make the merger a success?

Disclosure: I am a dues-paying member of both CGSSD and SDGS, and enjoy both meetings tremendously. I have written articles for both society newsletters and have made presentations at both societies. I look forward to writing more articles and making more presentations and teaching as opportunities permit.


Heather Wilkinson Rojo said...

I've been following your comments with great interest. You are very lucky to have two so active societies in your area, and merging isn't any of my business, but I will say I am jealous that you have ample opportunities to participate in such active communities. Boston is too far away for me to participate in anything genealogical on a regular basis, and up here in the North Country we have societies that only meet once a year (maybe). I hope you work it all out in the end, and celebrate your active membership!

Susi's Quarter said...

Randy, Thanks for your feedback. I think some of the thoughts mentioned are speculative and are not factual yet though have potential for happening as in any society. I just fear if it gets bigger it will loose the people who enjoy it as is and we have already had feed back from new members why they choose our CVGS society over SDGS for that reason. It is very hard to reach the average person when a group gets to large without a massive attempt constantly made to keep on top of the new members, the older members and the members of need. I am still praying on it but I tend to feel that as a Computer learner I will loose much by a merger. Also you get what you pay for I do not care what anyone says.
Best to all on this matter. I am also a member of all three as you are. I was a member of the German Research Group also. I more than got benefits from all the dues I paid and events I drove to, to attend.