Before there was FamilySearch.org, there was the Family History Library and its network of FamilySearch Centers (as the library is starting to call its local Family History Centers). Patron Services director Don Anderson gave an update on the network during last week’s Blogger’s Day.
The Family History Library, located in Salt Lake City, started in 1894 with 11 donated volumes. Today it has the largest genealogy collection in the world, with 330,000 annual visitors and a staff of 700 employees and volunteers.
The library has begun surveying visitors to gauge their satisfaction with their visit. About 63 percent discover an ancestor they set out to find, and 86 percent would recommend visiting the library to a friend. The scores are better for patrons who have more genealogical experience and stay longer in the librarymaking the biggest area of opportunity, says Anderson, in helping new researchers.
You can borrow the librarys microfilm and microfiche by going to one of the 4,600 volunteer-run FamilySearch Centers around the country, which receive 6 million visits a year.
About 100 FamilySearch Centers are added every year, mostly in Latin America (few are being added in North America). Anderson says FamilySearch is working on a system thatll let you go onlinerather than visiting an FamilySearch Center to fill out a request formto order microfilm for delivery to your FamilySearch Center (folks in Europe already can do this).
Because the centers are volunteer-run and have different kinds of facilities and resources, visitors will have varied experiences depending where they live. Anderson says he’d like to standardize the services offered in various types of FamilySearch Centers.
Also in the works is a plan to give FamilySearch Centers space on FamilySearch.orgperhaps the Research Wikito list hours, classes and whats in their permanent collections.