Monday, June 11, 2007

Shrinking Pools

Alright, I might be a little slow but I was reading today this article from the 17th of May "80 Billion Family Files to Go Online" and had one of those AHA moments. You know how all these family history consultants are wondering, ever down right worried about what will happen to our Family History Centers when we go live with NFS. Some have thought that centers wouldn't be necessary because members could just do everything over the internet. You wouldn't need to come into the centers to clear names using TempleReady.

Now of course those are the consultants in Utah thinking that. Anyone from outside of Utah will tell you that more non-members use our family history centers than any of our members do, and they are not there to use TempleReady. We loose the non-member patrons when the results from FamilySearch Scanning and Indexing go live.

I've heard consultants say, "The Church will keep our centers open because we need to be there to help assist patrons in doing their family history, i.e. computer training, etc." I think that might be a good excuse to keep us open but it doesn't sit quit right with me. Why would a person doing their genealogy in the middle of the night wearing their comfy slippers want to come see me? If they are computer literate they will figure it out themselves. More and more people are becoming computer literate. It's not many patrons that I have to teach computer basics too. Of course, there are some, but people are starting to grasp this stuff.

It makes me think of this genealogy class I was attending and there was this ancient looking man in the audience with me. I swear he had to be in at least in his late 90's. He sat quiet and I don't know why but I started to wondered how much he knew about computers. Near the end of this class he just floored me with the beginning statement of his comment. You see he started by saying, in his frail little voice, that on his WEBSITE he used his ACCESS database... I didn't hear the rest I was shocked and thinking "this man knows way more than me." I'm sure he's not coming into the family history center for my computer training.

Yes some members don't have computers and need to come to the centers, but the pool of people that don't have computers or internet access is shrinking. I heard some really good figures the other day and can't find them to share with you, but people consider having computers in their homes a necessity, just like refrigerators. (If you know some figures please share.)

I recognize the fact that genealogy has a lot of facets and instruction in doing it properly is important. If people are going to do their family history work and we want them to share it, it's just got to be done right. I was watching YouTube the other day and thought wouldn't it be neat to learn how to put the class I just did about blogs on there. I could get really detailed and give lots of mini lessons, going into each facet in far more greater length than I would ever be able to in my class.

YouTube has the capability of delivering family history instruction to far more people than a family history center ever could. We have to think Henry Ford and bring the instruction to the people. Virtual learning and social networking can easily replace a family history consultant.

I realized today that our family history centers are going to be the access point for people like me. I know how to use computers, do research, document it, organize it, submit it, and share it. Those are all things that can be learned from the web. What I don't have is money. I will never be able to afford a subscription to every website hosting loads and loads of records that I may or may not want. Yah, we lost some good things on Ancestry but the future partnerships that the Church is making with archives and societies is going to make Ancestry's holdings seem like nothing.

I think when the Church made the announcements they are partnering with:
World Vital Records (
Kindred Konnections (
Godfrey Memorial Library (
Heritage Quest Online
Footnote (

We let that one kind of pass by us. I put the press releases on my blog along with tons others, but that is about as far as I went. Saturday, I had the privilege in attending the UVPAFUG monthly meeting. Justin Schroepfer from Footnote was our main presenter. I can not believe what they are doing. The month before that Yvette Arts, Whitney Ransom, & Jason McGowan gave presentations on WorldVitalRecords and FamilyLink. These companies are very new. If you look at their sites you might not find a TOTALLY over-whelming collection but it's coming.

I will try my best to let you know more about these companies that the Church is partnering with. I want to do my research first. But take comfort our family history centers are going to stay. You see the Church has the perfect delivery system setup for all the companies they partnership with and the deals are sweet to each. Family History Centers are going to become the "car dealership" for any one that wants to use these products. The partners know the odds are when the patron of the family history center finds the right "vehicle" they are going to buy. Now, that person wearing comfy slippers, is going to want to visit me.

See ya tomorrow, for tomorrow is always another genealogy day.


Renee Zamora said...

While I'm doing my research, on the companies the Church has partnered with, I thought you might like to know that the presentations I attended on World Vital Records and Footnote are available for sale to members of the UVPAFUG for $3.00 each, plus postage.

Jennifer said...

First of all, Welcome to I really enjoy reading your blog.

Interesting take on the upcoming changes and the possible relationships with FHC and Consultants. I agree that the generations coming up and doing family history are very computer savy and generally like to figure things out for themselves. Like you, I have also worked with people that are my age, busy raising their teenagers/children and do not have time to devout to learning and understanding the computer. We will still need to be their to gently talk them through the process but I think that the consultants job will eventually be centered more on helping someone in their home. I also believe that we will be teaching the members correct prinicples regarding family history work and preparing names for the temple. I have been working with a sister in our stake who has had trouble with submitting some names for temple work. The trouble has originated from the fact that she is always missing someone in the family that now one knew about. We have a responsibility to show by our example and concern the need to be prayerful when doing this work. Our ancestors want us to find them and to give them a voice.

I too think that YouTube is a great medium for teaching how to do Family History. I have a video on my blog that is from YouTube about remembering our ancestors. If you are interested in viewing the video, you can click here.

Jan said...

Folks need to remember that patrons can't get all their family history on the computer. They need to learn HOW to do research.

It is easy to think we can just sit at a desk - put in a few key strokes and up it comes.

Footnote, Heritage Quest, etc are wonderful resources. They provide more information everyday. But there is so much information that will never be indexed.