Village Coordinators Help Guide
From the AHSGR Village Coordinator Page comes the following definition of a Village Coordinator:
They coordinate, aid, and assist those individuals attempting to bring families and villages together through village research. They are doing this work on a volunteer basis and spend many hours gathering and organizing information. Some villages are large and some small.
Each coordinator desires to communicate with all persons who share the same village heritage. This would include sharing of family group records, maps, individual and family histories, video and audio tapes of memories, trip experiences, and other village information. Coordinators oversee the Village Night as part of the annual convention. It is always a highlight to find tables with persons sharing the same village.
Some of the villages now have newsletters. Some have "home pages on the World Wide Web (WWW). Some have printed books, articles, and other publications often appearing in the Journals. Some are creating GEDCOM format databases to be of help to families. Your input is needed. "
Every Village Coordinator is as unique as the village and people they serve. In general though, they share some characteristics. They are:
They are genealogists, but they are more. They are dedicated individuals who volunteer to go the extra mile and collect data about a village(s) so future generations will be able to learn about this foreign land which was called home by our people for more than a hundred years.
A Village Coordinator is whatever you make it. Through your efforts, you honor the memory of your ancestors, and preserve the history of our people so future generations will know and honor them, too.
The contents include:
The internet is also an ideal tool for posting data about your village through a village web site. Some VCs put their newsletters on the web, saving postage costs. See Chapter 7 for Web Site ideas.
AHSGR also has a web site that has links to many other resources: Favorite German-Russian sites on the internet, libraries of information, email addresses of German-Russian people on the internet. Plus, you can email AHSGR headquarters from the web site.
The implementation of a digital library is not so much a technical problem as an economic, legal, and social one. It is extremely expensive to convert printed materials into a searchable digital format. Those constructing digital libraries are concerned about financing these efforts and ensuring the protection of copyrights in an environment where every library access involves making a personal copy of a copyrighted document. Economic viability depends also upon a user base large enough to support the library. It has taken time for user expertise in computers, networking, and the use of digital libraries to reach the point, where there is a large enough user population.
In the case of digital libraries to support genealogical research, the economic problem has been a serious consideration. Conversion of research materials must often be done manually, and individuals who have been doing that sort of work have been understandably reluctant to donate their work to libraries and archives where they might lose control and recognition for their work. As more and more become aware of the potential of pooled efforts, more groups have formed to tackle the immense job of openly publishing primary research materials such as church documents, books, personal compilations, census lists, histories, immigration lists, and the many other types of documents that are the mainstay of genealogical research.
Since late 1993, a group called the Odessa Group has been experimenting with a digital library of research materials to support the research on Germans from Russia. While the Odessa Library contains documents of many types, the strongest part of the collection is undoubtedly the extensive transcriptions of parts of the St. Petersburg Archives. Those researching the Dakotas will also appreciate the on-line access to numerous town history books that have been made available through the generosity of the copyright holders.
The whole idea behind the Odessa Library has been somewhat different than that of its commercial counterparts. The library designers thought that by making research documents easily available, users would download relevant documents to their home computers and build up their own research collections. The idea of building personal digital libraries at home does not seem to be widely accepted, however, perhaps because the whole concept of indexing and full text retrieval may still be a bit esoteric to many. Users content with simple keyword searches, however, will be perfectly happy using the Odessa library on-line as it is.
The main Odessa page on the WWW is at the URL: http://www.odessa3.org/search.html
The Odessa Library has been very busy over the past few years. If you haven't browsed the shelves yet, log in with the URLs above and spend some time looking around. We hope you'll find it useful in your own research work! Let us know if you'd like to help, too. Contributions are most welcome.
To Do Ideas
Spreadsheet programs (i.e. Lotus 1-2-3, Excel) are handy for entering extractions, as they can be easily sorted and reports can be created quickly from them.
No where does it state that VCs are to disseminate information only to members. The VC contract also does not limit dissemination of information to members only. That said, the VC should attempt to obtain as much information as possible from a person making an inquiry, before sending them all the information they have that is associated with that inquiry.
There are no regulations that exist or are planned to limit the amount of support we each decide to provide to persons who contact the Village Coordinators, even if they are non-members. The VC credo that describes what is expected of us seems to emphasize that with the sentence "Each coordinator desires to communicate with all persons who share the same village heritage."
See what AHSGR has on your village. Publish passenger lists, founder/surname lists. Keep track of recent acquisitions at AHSGR and let your villagers know what new resources are available to them. Queries from villagers are a good item.
Just like the newsletter, the contents of a web page are limitless. Research other sites for ideas, and create your own customized web site.
Some of the advantages of a web site are postage-free dissemination of information (i.e. newsletters); free advertising of the site (through search engine registration and inclusion on the AHSGR page); instant access; and they are flexible and customizable.
A disadvantage is the fact that it is hard to track the visitors to your site, and Guest Books are infrequently used by visitors. This means a person can just take your information anonymously, and you may have no record of his/her visit. One idea is to put only indexes to your newsletter on the web site, and require the guest to email you directly for an actual copy of the newsletter. On the Yagodnaya Polyana home page this is done, and once copies are sent to the visitor, the newsletter editor is reimbursed for the price of the newsletter. The visitor is also asked to subscribe for one year to defray the expenses of the newsletter editor. Another idea is to post only previous years' newsletters, and not the current year. These are decisions you are free to make as a VC of your village.
You will want to investigate scanning equipment for scanning in maps, pictures, and even data. Scanners are dropping in price weekly, and are available at your local computer or discount store.
Permanent staff from Lincoln assisted by your Village Night committee will be working behind the scenes to provide the essentials and will be on hand to help coordinate the event. The main responsibility for a successful evening is up to you. Following the suggestions below will certainly help.
As with most endeavors, your evaluation of Village Night will depend on your expectations. So, why do individuals decide to attend?
Many modest objectives. Some may be impossible to attain for some individuals. However, you will never know until you try. Just don't limit yourself to one single-minded purpose. Have a plan B, C and D and reduce your risk of total failure.
Many members take Village Night in stride. They have been there before. They know they will see half a dozen acquaintances and shirttail relatives. To them, Village Night is as good a place as any to socialize. They will rehash the old mysteries of their mutual lineage and occasionally solve one. Some of them will have valises filled with documents and charts, which they are happy to display and explain. They leave feeling no worse than before and probably a little better.
(These are fields from an annual survey created by Bill Scheirman, former VC of Yagodnaya Polyana)
AHSGR maintains a master listing of Village Coordinators and Village Web Sites. Please click on the Village Coordinator link on the menu for the current listing of AHSGR Village Coordinators and the respective Village Web Sites.
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