You really have no idea how much you don't know until you realize you don't know it. (Translation: I'm more of a beginner than I ever thought.) But I'm learning that as I listen in the lectures and wander the exhibit hall of the National Genealogical Society conference, I can't help put pick up amazing information from all the people who've invested their time in energy in preserving the lives and voices of our ancestors.
The opening session featured Sandra Gioia Treadway, Librarian of Virginia and State Archivist. Only a few blocks away from the Richmond Convention Center, the Library of Virginia is taking great strides in making its collections more customer-focused so users feel comfortable researching and asking questions in the library. In addition, the library continually makes strides in digitizing files and records to make searching easier for its patrons.
I really enjoyed Elissa Scalise Powell's lecture Problems and Pitfalls in a Reasonably Shallow Search. So many times a researcher (and I am so guilty of this) grabs a piece of "evidence" that appears to be true after a long and grueling search. Through many examples and humor, she challenged all researchers to build genealogical research on something firm and not assumptive. Finally, she encouraged our ancestors to be "allowed...to reveal themselves or their reasons for actions."
And more lectures and knowledge awaits.