Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Save NYG&B Society from itself. - Internet vs. the Library

This Blog is prompted by a couple of crisis state situations that are occurring right now!

The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society (NYG&B) will be having a vote to amend the By-Laws on July 19th, 2007 that if approved would "ELIMINATE MEMBERSHIPS!"

Oh, you would still be able to have a membership and pay a fee to use the facility or online services, however no one other than a fifteen person Board of Directors would ever have any say or input into the business operations of the society. My, My, what a shame that would be.

If you are like me, and I suspect like most other members of the society, you have been pretty happy to let the board make decisions. You're far to busy. You have research to do. Your family matters are too pressing. Your health is not good and why bother anyway?

Ding / Dong (that is the bell of reality.) The elite are taking your society away from you. You will NEVER have a vote even if you passionately want to on any given matter. The recent letter issued to the membership describes how the society lost thousands of dollars by having a delay from the membership in regards to the selling of their headquarters building in downtown Manhattan. Guess what, it IS sold or will be for sure.

So what? They will get another building somewhere right? Who knows? If just a handful of people are running the show, they won't have to listen to anything you have to say in the matter. You will be notified... period.

If you are a member of the NYG&B, please go on their website, read the information about the vote. Download your proxy ballot and get it in the mail NOW! The people behind the amendment change do expect it to pass (primarily because very few members ever vote by proxy,) and you can definitely put a halt to this madness. "Checks and Balances," people. Multiple houses of government, let the people vote, does any of this ring a bell? If you voted by proxy before and want to change your vote, you may send in another with the new date and indicate that you are changing your vote. If you REALLY want to make a difference, go to the vote meeting on July 19th.

Of course if you are in favor of the amendment don't bother to send in your proxy, it's not necessary. {wink}

What follows is a message that I just posted on Dick Eastman's story Genealogical Societies and Buildings in his most recent newsletter at

Dick Eastman has reported on this crisis very well. It is caused by each and every one of us and does not seem to be able to be resolved easily to any favorable conclusion, if we maintain the status quo.

The Internet has changed everyone's world! In all ways imaginable, and in so many ways that no one has even started to realize. We should embrace the technology, accept and grow with it, and never, never forget whence we came, nor where the data came from.

We need it all... The digital world has broken down so many brick walls that we all have been carrying around with us for so many years, however I for one will always want, need, and feel incomplete if the libraries close, if the museums go out of business, if the historical societies close their doors. There is nothing like having the freedom to roam between aisles of old friends and smiling as you remember the lucky find you had in that one, looking for a specific title and then finding out that the book that you REALLY wanted is sitting right next to it on the shelf.

Some of my fondest memories are mingling with the other researchers, and as I have described it many times, sticking your nose into someone else's business. You meet only the nicest people in libraries. They have helped me enormously and I have always tried to help everyone that I come across in this obsession of ours.

There is no price that can be attached to the vast amount of knowledge in the heads of the librarians. When they have time and you get lucky, they will steer you into an amazing world that even though it was there all the time, you just might have never found on your own.

I do not have all of the answers to this dilemma, however I would like to offer some points to consider as a suggestion. Help your favorite library out in as many ways possible that you can. Volunteer your time, donate cash if you can, join their "Friends" program if they have one, if not then consider starting one, and soon!

If you have a membership in an organization that is struggling, please send them an extra donation with your annual membership. Offer to assist with cataloging, correspondence, research, or just plain old grunt work. They need it.

Remember, "it ain't all on the Internet." It never will all be on the Internet. It will always take boots on the ground, and getting dusty and dirty. That is, if you really want to document your findings. It is the ONLY way!

We need all of these societies and organizations to stay in business. We must be willing to bear some of the burden.

I have written about many of these wonderful facilities and services many times on my website and Blog, which you may link to at

Dick Hillenbrand

Member: New York Genealogical Society,

Member: Association of Professional Genealogists.

Let's all lend a hand before it is too late.

No comments: