Once again at general conference time, we had the opportunity to meet with many family history center directors, priesthood leaders, and technology specialists from many stakes around the world in a wonderful and successful Family History Center Open House.
Speaking at the Assembly Hall on Temple Square, Dennis Brimhall, the Managing Director of FamilySearch, kicked off the open house with a keynote address where he shared the vision of the Family History Department in an address entitled “Family History: Not a Program of the Church but a Principle of the Gospel.”
Ryan Koelliker, manager of family history center directors , asked directors to focus on:
- The patron experience versus a technology experience.
- Helping patrons feel comfortable in family history centers.
- Customizing the center experience for each patron.
- Helping patrons feel that their visit was timely and valuable.
Jeff Hawkins, a manager on the Family Tree team, introduced the new and upcoming Family Tree and what to expect in future versions as we :
- Look for our ancestors.
- Preserve the work for our children.
- Reduce duplication.
- Add data to the tree.
Candy Steinhorst, instructional designer on the learning performance team, demonstrated new training resources which are now available on https://familysearch.org/serve for family history center directors. She also announced the upcoming new edition of the Family History Center Operations Guide, which will soon be released and available on this site.
Art Johnson, a manager in world wide support services, offered updated information on what is now available for research assistance. He covered sites such as:
- Self-help, which includes the FamilySearch Research Wiki found at https://www.familysearch.org/learn/wiki as well as the FamilySearch learning courses available at https://familysearch.org/learningcenter/home.html
- Live help, which can be found at https://labs.familysearch.org
- Community and social media resources, which include research communities on Facebook (visit https://familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/Research_Communities_On_Facebook) and Skype (visit https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/Research_Communities_on_Skype).
Norm Albiston, a manager on the patron services team, offered a presentation titled “Partnering with Priesthood Leaders and Facility Managers.” His topics included:
- What directors can do to improve the center to meet meetinghouse standards.
- How to obtain artwork for a family history center.
- Why to declutter the center.
- How to better partner with the FM to improve the furnishings in the center.
- How to make the family history center more welcoming.
- How to set goals for the family history center and the supporting stakes.
- How to involve new Church members and investigators at the center.
- How the center can be a gathering place.
The Family History Center Open House concluded with a question and answer period, where experts discussed the hardware and software available for family history centers.
It was delightful to meet with many family history center directors and others who support family history in so many areas of the world. We look forward to meeting again in six months.