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Clarifying FHC Resources for Potential FHC Patrons

Not sure why "source" is listed on the talk page. 

Is it really important to clarify the difference between ward, stake, and multi-stake FHCs?  It seems to me that this is information only important to those who administer the center, not those who use it.  The wiki isn't meant to be a supplement to or replacement for the Administrative Guide, so I would propose that the sections covering ecclesiastical boundary be removed.  Also, this article has content overlapping at least two other articles.  Maybe time to pare them down to one? Lise 01:18, 21 April 2011 (UTC)

Reply 1

The primary FHC article was on Wikipedia. AND use without crediting the source is wrong. Wrong in many ways. IE legally, morally and ethically.

More than 60% of the people using Family History Centers are non-LDS.  Many first timers look up FHC at and find a "Family History Center" close to where they live.  Then they show up and find a LDS ward building, AND no sign regarding a FHC. Then, IF THEY ARE LUCKY they meet someone and get a name or find out it is only open for a few hours each week for use of 1 or more computers and NO local local history material.  Many feel cheated and view the effort as a waste of time and effort. Many non-LDS have mentioned to me that it is just another gimick to get non-members to show up for missionary work. The Stake FHC might be a little better in equipment and a Multi-Stake much better than that. The best "FHCs" still out there are the old regional FHCs.  They are library class facilities often with local history and material for their area.  Some have more than 90% non-member use. We actually could use more of these type facilities.
Please remember that Familysearch wiki is not only for LDS members. Many non-LDS use it and are encouraged to use it to learn things about genealogy and family history for example.  And new-LDS members are as often ignorant - not knowing of things - as non-LDS users. 
The LDS Church had over 4,625 FHCs at one time.  That number is now at 4,450 or so. Now many of the ward and stake FHCs are shutting down.  For example, the Salt Lake City area shut down over 80 under-used ward and stake FHC to open up Riverton Familysearch FHC.  
Are all FHCs equal? No way and no how. Do we need to be honest and clear regarding the differences between FHCs?  You betcha!   Otherwise it is dishonest morally and intellectually.

I hope this helps explain the reasoning for the two items you brought up. Jrcrin001 05:33, 21 April 2011 (UTC)

Hi Jrcrin001 - Thanks for your comments.  It sounds like we have similar perspective but a different approach to communicating relevant information about Family History Centers.  I stand by my concern that patrons don't need an explanatin of ecclesiastical units, they just need to know what to expect when they show up at a Family History Center.  The effort under way currently to create wiki pages for each Family History Center will help set appropriate expectations.  The FamilySearch "Find a FamilySearch Center" function does not designate ecclesiastical unit - it gives location, hours, and contact information.  That's what patrons need.  You raise a good point about Wikipedia.  It makes sense to polish up the very best FamilySearch wiki article on Family History Centers, and then provide better information in Wikipedia and link to the FamilySearch wiki.  The information on Wikipedia is very dated.
The source information for any article belongs in a footnote or endnote to that article and not the talk page. If you need help creating the citation, you might find the article How to Add Citations helpful.
In the broader perspective, I believe this article is redundant. Take a look at Introduction to LDS Family History Centers  and Ordering Micorfilm or Microfiche from a Family History Center and the section on Family History Centers in the article Obtain the Record. This is a good opportunity to combine elements of these articles to craft ONE complete, accurate and concise article on Family History Centers. Lise 11:02, 21 April 2011 (UTC)


I really don't mind combining various articles into one. As long as they are accurate, useful and take into consideration the public at large. Please be aware that one extreamely long and complicated article is not as good as a summary article that refers the reader to more detailed related articles.

You miss the main point on FHCs.  There are many different types of FHCs. Not all are equal and this should be clearly defined.  The LDS Church has started to use titles like "San Diego California Large Multi-Stake Family History Center" (Renamed such by the LDS CHurch FHC Department in April of 2010) which confuses the you know what out of non-LDS and new members. Without defining such a title - whether or not they are ecclesiastical boundaried or not - it creates a disservice to all.

In the example given above, the local phone book lists the SDLMSFHC as "San Diego Genealogical Library." It is also known as the San Diego Regional Family History Center to the public.  When, and heaven forbide, if - The phone book and listing services start using the cumbersome and ecclesiastical names then like "San Diego California Large Multi-Stake Family History Center" GREAT CONFUSION ABIDES. Already is using such titles and it has created problems as I mentioned in Reply section above. WHY CREATE FURTHER CONFUSION by deleting the types of FHCs and how they are defined? 

Again, All FHCs as if they are NOT equal in use and quality. My local Bishop closed the ward FHC to reuse the 3 called members and equipment previously assigned. It has no microfilm readers and no books. The wireless system crashes over and over.  Before it was closed recently by the Bishop, it was open by appointment only for 3 hours on Sunday afternoons. The local Stake FHC is only open on Saturday and Sunday 2-3PM. It has one microfilm reader and no books. The nearby old Regional Center is open Tuesday through Saturday 10-3 and 3-9 on Wednesdays and Fridays. It has dozens of computers and readers, digital scanners, 11,000 plus books, a T-1 internet connection, Institutional versions of Ancestry and Footnote for example and much more.  And the hours there have been cut back due to lack of LDS staffing because others have been called to every ward and stake FHC in the local region. The result is that more non-LDS are joining the staff to try to get back the older expanded hours. But the LDS Church requires at least 2 members to open.

Which one of these FHCs would you use for local Genealogy and Family History work? And how would you know the difference if you were new or a non-member other than trail and error on Familysearch?  Jrcrin001 18:49, 21 April 2011 (UTC)

Unless you're in the United States, and more specifically, in Utah, Idaho, or Arizona, I doubt it will matter a bit to non-LDS patrons if a FHC carries the title "Ward," "Stake" or "Multi-Stake."  If someone locates a FHC using, the same listing that provides the address also gives the center's hours and may include a brief mention of special collections (or limitations).  While I have a very clear understanding of how Bishops impact FHC staffing (and indirectly, hours of operation), this is not a topic for the FamilySearch wiki.  I suddenly realized the core of my discomfort with this particular article: you've copied information ABOUT FamilySearch FROM Wikipedia.  The FamilySearch Wiki can and should be the source of primary information on FamilySearch facilities and tools.  I have some ideas about how we might pursue this, but would prefer to continue the dialogue with you more directly.  My contact information is on my talk page.  Lise 20:31, 21 April 2011 (UTC)


Actually I am in Southern California. And it does matter to as I mentioned repeatedly above to non-members. The "core of my discomfort," as you wrote was spelled out in the first paragraph of the first Reply section.  I am sorry you missed that.

The discussion above is on a talk page regarding the FHC article in question.  The impact on how the LDS Church designates FHCs is an appropiate topic for talk pages. And I agree that such talk is not appropiate for the actual article. AND that is why it is here on the talk page. 

How FHCs are staffed and the equipment they use is important to users of FHCs. Why? Because the articles you referenced in the first Reply section have serious issues. They imply a general statement regarding all FHCs that is plainly wrong.  And that should be fixed. Not all FHCs are equal and do not have the same value to any user.

As you say, if "The FamilySearch Wiki can and should be the source of primary information on FamilySearch facilities and tools," then it needs to be accurate and correct. If something is wrong then it needs to be fixed. Otherwise it will be dismissed as propaganda and not worthy of use. Jrcrin001 06:20, 22 April 2011 (UTC)


Let me see if I can boil this down to a couple of actionable recommendations:

1. Review all FS Wiki articles that provide information about Family History Centers.

Yes. It is sorely needed based on the comments in the replies above.

2. Combine the best of the relevant and accurate information into a single article.

 If such an article is very large then it should be a summary article leading to more detail subject areas. See replies above.

3. Delete all other articles.

 Subject to comments of 2.

4. Ensure the summary article clearly explains that Family History Centers differ widely in what they offer, and that potential patrons may wish to contact a FHC in advance of a visit to ask about equipment, collections, internet resources, and hours.

Don't use weasel words. It is obvious you want the investigator to call without having fore knowledge of the types of FHCs. This is wrong. This is exactly why so many non-members I come into contact with dislike the FHC listings on Many see it as a setup to try to snooker them as I have explained in the above replies.  Understanding the difference between the different types of FHCs is important for the user to make an informed decision. Denying such information to the reader/user is morally wrong and dishonest.

5. Update the WIkipedia article and include a link to the corrected, updated FS Wiki article.

Be advised that Wikipedia is not Familysearch wiki. Most Wikipedia users there will demand clarity, accuracy and clear references. If you use weasel words or imply general statements that are wrong (as described above) that will be challenged and/or corrected.

6.  Remove the Wikipedia reference information at the top of this talk page (or move it to the article itself as a reference footnote).

Placed as a source on the article page.

Please consider creating your own user page with contact information.  To see my user page (and see how to contact me directly), click on my userID. Lise 10:12, 22 April 2011 (UTC)

NOTE:  Italic text comments inserted by me above.
Curious.  Will you also edit comments, discussions and other items on talk pages or will you archive them?  I am not sure which policy applies on the Familysearch wiki.  
I get notified regarding the pages that I watch via email. Leave a note on my user talk page and I will usually respond within a few days.  Jrcrin001 03:59, 23 April 2011 (UTC)

Additional thoughts

It sounds like we all have the same foundational beliefs but are coming to different conclusions because of perhaps our different experiences - we all want the pages to reflect the needs of the general community at large rather than some specific individuals, LDS or not. I am going to try to address both at once, so I hope this makes sense. I spent some time this morning digging into this issue, talking to a couple people, and trying to find out what the official policy is to ensure we are addressing this appropriately. Let's be sure and focus on the facts in this discussion, and not what people intend or did not intend by writing the article or suggesting what should be there. We can't assume dishonesty even if the facts may not all be there; people write from their own knowledge and perspective. But we can all work towards building the best wiki possible by getting the facts all out there.

Regarding FHCs, we are all coming from different perspectives because of where we live, which is the exact problem for patrons - the best option for a patron depends on exactly where they are. SLC residents have different options than those in San Diego, and they have different options than those who live in Wichita. For those who are close to the regional facilities, it does make sense for anyone within driving distance to be aware of them. It would be good for them to know about the large center that's 30 minutes away, even if there is a small one 10 minutes away.

And that is true, all FHCs are not created equal. Outside of the "large multi-stake" centers, the official distinction is between centers with film distribution and computer-only centers.  There is not a distinction between ward/stake FHCs.  All film distribution centers will have film readers. Computer only centers don't have access to films and as such would not need the readers. Perhaps that would be a better distinction to be made on this page rather than trying to break it down by ecclesiastical unit?

The initiative that was just started to create pages in the Wiki for all FHCs should help quite a bit with this topic as that will give an opportunity for all centers to detail some of the above information on their own pages.

FYI - this is important to be aware of as we discuss this - currently there are 4224 active FHCs with film distribution (16 of those LMS), and 285 computer-only centers. So 93% of the centers out there have similar capabilities and can order film.  As this article is reviewed, there are a couple other things that need to be clarified - the cost of ordering film ($5.50 in the US, but some states have additional fees, and it varies worldwide), all FHCs are branch libraries, what is "library class" (not a term I've ever heard before), whether or not many FHCs are closing, etc.

The consolidation of this FHC topic seems like a great candidate to use the tabs feature.  That would allow the grouping needed but still keep info on separate pages. 
janellv 20:23, 25 April 2011 (UTC)

Additional Thoughts 2

When we look at official LDS title of different FHCs we find FHC (IE Ward FHC), Stake FHC, Multi-Stake FHC and Large Multi-Stake FHC (aka olf regional Centers) per the April 2010 directive from SLC FHC director.  Now in this article it has been changed to whether or not the "distinction is between centers with film distribution and computer-only centers" and to define them in that manner.

What is needed is an expert, ie a representative from the SLC FHC to write up something that is accurate in describing the different FHCs and the future goals.  

I am not going to edit war. The apparent phobia about using "ecclesiastical unit" description is wrong and vilolates the April 2010 designation of FHCs.

This article had a rating of 6 people favoring the article and none disproving. Now it is significantly changed and provides more confusion than reality.  An administrator needs to review this issue.  

Jrcrin001 07:25, 29 April 2011 (UTC)

I'm not an expert, but it is my understanding that official name of each FHC is in the format town/city state/country, for example the closet one to my home town Bournemouth is officially the Poole England Family History Center. Local LDS members call it the Poole Stake Family History Centre as it is located in an LDS Stake Center. The wider community in Dorset will know it as the Poole LDS Family History Centre or Poole Mormon Family History Centre. The colloquial designation as a Stake FHC has no other meaning than it is located in a certain type of building. Even the so called Ward FHC and Branch FHC in neighbouring towns are all under the direction of the same stake leaders, it is just that they are in buildings used by those kinds of units.
I have renamed the articles created in the wiki for these FHC from the official names to Poole Family History Centre, Dorset, Weymouth Family History Centre, Dorset and Yeovil Family History Centre, Somerset as these names fit better with the most common names by which these centre are known/make it easier to be found by common search terms. Wikipedia has a supplementary note about the use of Official Names which favours common over official names.
As has been mentioned above, what a FHC is called or named is less important to somebody planning to visit than the resources available when they get there. Making clear if the FHC is a computer-only or film circulation FHC therefore must be the prime distinction. --Steve 09:45, 30 April 2011 (UTC)

I have been discussing this with a couple officials within the family history department. They are not sure what you are referring to, regarding the "April 2010 designations of FHCs." If you have some documentation you'd like to e-mail me, I would be happy to take a look at it.  The individual who has been helping to edit the main page is an expert, someone who works directly with family history centers. But I would be interested in seeing the documentation you are referring to. --janellv 17:35, 3 May 2011 (UTC)

Proposed Changes

The following is proposed after the lead. Sub-headings and links not yet placed. It clearly defines what different FHCs, Familysearch centers and libraries are. While uses the confusing terminology that is gobbly-gook to non-LDS patrons, it defines those terms and use. It combines the official names used in the wiki pages with the older defined terms. This is more intellectually honest and non-deceiving than the current version now showing. I hope this helps. Jrcrin001 20:24, 25 May 2011 (UTC)

Family History Centers
Family History Centers (FHCs) are branches of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah and are operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS). It is the intention of the LDS Church, to make available to patrons everywhere as much of the content of the main library in Salt Lake City as possible via the internet.

The smaller and most numerous FHCs focus on LDS local units called 'wards' and have LDS member volunteers. Larger units are called 'stakes' and are the parent body of multiple wards and or branches (similar to a ward but over a larger geographic area). These are also called 'Computer Only' facilities and are in local meeting houses or congregations. Anyone with a genealogy program and an internet connection to can access the same resources as these smaller units, including on-line training classes in genealogy and family history.

The next level is a multiple or multi-stake FHC facility. While the multi-stake facilities have more resources that the smaller ward or stake units, they are often focused on local history and resources. The large multi-stake or former regional FHCs are usually library type facilities because they contain a larger collection of books, films and other resources over a regional area. The term 'FamilySearch' center or library is synonymous with a FHC center or library.

Computer only facilities
The 'Ward FHC' or 'Branch FHC' is the smallest consisting of at least one computer (Computer only facility), related family history programs, most likely internet access and has the most variable hours per week due to the volunteer staff. The Ward FHC may or may not have a dedicated room for their FHC since most ward buildings are designed for multiple uses. They may or may not have microfilm or microfiche readers or printers. Internet access (often wireless) is variable and time dependent based on local unit need and resources. Anyone with a computer and internet access to '' has the same capability.

+ Microfilm/Microfiche circulation
The 'Stake FHC', representing about 4 to 6 ward or branches units, is the next in size consisting of two or more computers (Computer only facility + Microfilm/Microfiche circulation), related family history programs, internet access and usually has better hours per week than Ward or Branch FHCs. Stake FHCs may or may not have a small collection of CDs, books and local historical material. The Stake FHC usually has a dedicated room staffed by volunteers. Most have microfilm or microfiche readers and the ability to order film/fiche from Salt Lake City Family History Library.

In the near future, the LDS Church will send microfilm and microfiche, via an internet ordering system, to both LDS and non-LDS library approved facilities. These facilities will have at least one microfilm/microfiche reader for patron use. This will be through the 'Affiliate Public Library' (APL) program.

A future goal of the LDS Church is to digitize all of its 2.4 million microfilm, 742,000 microfiche and appropriate genealogical books. This project is currently undergoing beta testing. Access of digitized material will be through the on-line LDS catalog system. A blue link will appear on the item description page with a note that the item is available for viewing on-line. Note: This is not the “Indexing Program” where volunteers view microfilm and type in names and other data. These are two separate projects.

Computer + Microfilm/Microfiche circulation
The 'Multi-Stake FHCs'" & 'Large Multi-Stake FHCs' represents two or more Stakes units consisting of 8 or more wards and/or branches. These have larger dedicated areas of a Stake Center or a separate building for the use of the FHC. These larger FHCs have a dedicated microfilm and microfiche area (Computer + Microfilm/Microfiche circulation). They have 6 or more computers with varied phone line, cable, or satellite internet access, family history software and often institutional version of, and maybe other paid access sites. All have microfilm or microfiche readers and the ability to order film/fiche from Salt Lake City FH library. Most have some local area history material, but are not like most (non-LDS) city or county libraries.

The 'Large Multi-Stake FHCs' are the largest of the branches of the Salt Lake City Family History Library. There are only about 16 or 17 of these branch libraries and they are open from Tuesday to Saturday, except designated LDS or national holidays. They have the most resources outside of the Salt Lake City Library, with a dedicated internal server and a local library catalog or card catalogs for their collections. These branch libraries have dedicated book collections in the thousands, long term microfilm & microfiche in the tens of thousands, dozens of internet connected computers and microfilm & microfiche readers and some digital scanners. All have dedicated servers with either DSL, cable or T-1 internet access. In addition all have at least one multi-use classroom, and several research areas. They are staffed with dozens of trained volunteers and offer regular classes and independent training as needed. These facilities were once designated 'regional' genealogical or 'regional' FHCs and are similar in format to a non-LDS city or county library.

Draft Available for Comment

I like your mention of FamilySearch resources available to anyone, anywhere.  Ultimately, FamilySearch's plans to digitze microfilm really don't have a lot to do with Family History Centers, but more to do with FamilySearch. The wiki needs an overall article about FamilySearch, which I think should include a description of both digitization and indexing.
A draft of a revised "Introduction to LDS Family History Centers" article is available here:
Feel free to add your comments to the talk page.  That text will shortly replace the text of either this article (Family History Centers) or Introduction to LDS Family History Centers, with the remaining (overlapping) article being deleted. Be assured that the content has been carefully reviewed for accuracy (and corrected!) by those with responsibility for Family History Centers within FamilySearch. Lise 01:33, 26 May 2011 (UTC)

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