Friday, September 18, 2009

Future of Family History Centers

Russell Webster
Family History Centers — An Important Resource for Family History Help”
Sat., 29 August 2009, 4:00PM.
Salt Lake Family History Expo

Russell Webster How do you spell ai-yai-yai? I presented last session and my feet are killing me!
Getting settled for the last session.
It is Russell Webster, “Family History Centers (FHCs)-An Important Resource for Family History Help.”
This is part of the free track for family history consultants.
[If you are not a family history consultant for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, this presentation will probably not interest you.]
The concept alone of FHCs is still changing as needs change. My slides are still in the revision process. It’s been a while since I revised it. I may skip through some slides.
Most of the audience are consultants, by show of hands.

FHC background
-4600+ centers worldwide.
Have you heard it said, “There will be no new FHCs”? That is not true, although it is true for some areas.
Utah and Idaho are oversaturated with FHCs.
North America requests will be carefully scrutinized.
Funds are going to developing countries.
Types of family history centers:
- stake,
- multi-stake,
- large multi-stake (that’s the official term for what some call regional FHCs).

Meetinghouse FHCs are no longer.
Administration of FHCs is at stake level.

FHC stats
- 4 million visitors annually
- 70% are non-members
- 700 thousand rolls of film in distribution
- 20 thousand computers
- 6 million annual staffing hours
- many FHCs have limited hours and limited staff
Q. Will FHCs go away when film goes away?
A. No. We don't foresee a time when they won't be necessary.
Why were FHCs created?
- For film circulation.
- Later added TempleReady.

Change in Focus away from FHC as main focus to FHC as a tool…
with family history consultants as the main focus.
Long-range Direction: Assistance.
Family History research assistance
- capable ward consultants help members directly

Transition activities:
- Strengthen ward Family History consultants:
- - Online training
- - Strong support network
- - Improved local priesthood direction
- Consultants staff FHCs

"There may be films that are never digitized"

Long-range Direction: Record Access 
- moving to online access
Long-range Direction: Temple Names
- Before: Submit only from FHC
- Soon submit names via the Internet
- All temples now use Ordinance Recording System (ORS), can print cards from Family Ordinance Request (FOR).
(  Q. Why can’t temples accept TempleReady and FORs during transition?
A. A lot of the temples received new computers powerful enough to run the new ORS and the new computers may have been without floppy drives, so they can't handle TempleReady floppies.
Comment from audience: Jordan River stopped July 1.
Q. Is there a way to turn a TempleReady floppy back into a GEDCOM?
A. (from the audience) Change the .sub file extension to .ged   )
- Provide simple submission via Internet
- Track Internet availability to members in homes, meetinghouses, or public locations
- Reduce duplication
Q. What does rollout mean?
A. Implement a new system
Types of Centers
- Computer only
- Small 15 hr week
- Medium open 20-40 week
- Multi-stake
- Large Multi-stake
What Lies Ahead
- Increased participation, particularly from members of the Church
Statistics showed about 2-3% were doing family history before,
now up to about 12-3% where NFS is in place.
(I wish he would put off questions.)
Q. We're discouraged with priesthood support
A. Hard to address. We take a step back and see family history isn't biggest focus for leaders, but we see what's on their plates and we understand why.
...Rather than telling them what they should be doing, our suggestion to you is that you invite the priesthood leader over for…
brownies and ice cream. Tell him, “What I need from you is a couple of names of ancestors.” Then you do what you need to do to get a card in…
their hands for one of their own ancestors. When they have that experience in the temple it changes them. Family history work also helps the other…
missions of the Church. You are not going to change their hearts, but there is someone who can.
What Lies Ahead
- Reduced % visits to FHC
- More difficult research questions
Why go to FHC
- Access to technology
- Access to restricted content
- Access to help
- Collaboration and relationships
- Access to facilitated training
FHC of the future
- 1 film reader
- more PCs
- very limited book collection
- well equipped training centers
- well trained staff
How to Prepare
- register FHC staff as consultants
- Use new training.

Training lessons for new center directors are available
- Find ways to leverage content from other sources
- - FHL
- - FamilySearch (the web site?)
We're trying to push more of the resources of the FHL out to FHCs

- FHCs need LANDesk installed on all computers that are connected to the Internet. Its a program downloaded from SLC so SLC can
- Troubleshoot & fix PCs remotely, with your permission 
- Gather info about hardware. There's too many old systems out there.
- Automatic updates to programs such as anti-virus.
- Don't install LANDesk on private computers.
- Installs licenses for premium websites
- Verifies firewall is working

It's been a great conference, everyone. I'm headed out. If I win something at the prize drawing, tough luck. Re-draw & give away
#FHX09-SLC, Bye, bye!

This article is the last in a series of session reports from the recent 2009 Salt Lake City Family History Expo taken from my live tweets of the event. Please see my Tweeting Presentations Policy for further information, including the formatting guidelines I attempt to follow and instructions for correcting errors. Additions are NOT in italics this time; they were too confusing.

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