“We should not confine ourselves to the brick and mortar walls of our family history center,” said Art Johnson in his session at the 2011 BYU Family History Conference. Family history center staff members and family history consults should reach out to enrich the world. Johnson manages FamilySearch support. (That’s 1-866-406-1830 and email@example.com, if you were wondering.)
FamilySearch is doing their part to reach out.
“The idea is to provide to the community help where they want it,” said Johnson. With so many people on Facebook and other social websites, it is natural to have a presence on each.
FamilySearch is reaching out on Facebook where they’ve currently established research communities for nine states
- West Virginia Genealogy Research Community,
- North Carolina Genealogy Research Community,
- Missouri Genealogy Research Community,
- Texas Genealogy Research Community,
- Tennessee Genealogy Research Community,
- Ohio Genealogy Research Community,
- Virginia Genealogy Research Community,
- South Carolina Genealogy Research Community,
- New York Genealogy Research Community,
and 6 countries
- Finland Genealogy Research Community,
- Ireland Genealogy Research Community,
- Denmark Genealogy Research Community,
- Wales Genealogy Research Community,
- England Genealogy Research Community, and
- Sweden Genealogy Research Community.
Research community pages join existing Facebook pages:
- FamilySearch Indexing (also in Spanish and French),
- FamilySearch Wiki, and
- Family History Library.
While FamilySearch is creating Facebook pages, family history centers (FHCs) are encouraged to create pages in the FamilySearch Wiki rather than establishing their own Facebook presence.
FamilySearch is also reaching out on Skype, where they’ve created a number of Skype chats for genealogical research.
Johnson said that FamilySearch doesn’t make it a policy to run the communities, but to enable their existence.
I’m not familiar with Skype but it appears there is no way to search for group chats. Apparently, you must contact a creator or host who adds you to the group. Instructions on joining one of the FamilySearch Skype chats are found in the FamilySearch Wiki article, “Join a Skype Research Community.”
FamilySearch is also reaching out via Twitter, where it posts news items using the username @FS_News.
FamilySearch recently announced a newly redeveloped YouTube channel.
Staff members at smaller family history centers often find themselves with no patrons to help. Johnson encouraged family history consults to reach out and help via these social networking websites as well as FamilySearch’s own Forums and Wiki.
There is a mistaken idea that we as centers, as consultants, are not supposed to interact with societies. Not true! We have different purposes but we can help one another.
“Take an opportunity to turn your work inside out,” said Johnson. “Become more extraverted in helping others.”