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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
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 library—making the biggest area of
opportunity, says Anderson, in helping new researchers.
You can borrow the library’s microfilm and microfiche by going to one of the 4,600
volunteer-run FamilySearch Centers around the country, which receive 6 million visits
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
that’ll let you go online—rather than visiting an FamilySearch Center to fill out
a request form—to 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.org—perhaps
the Research Wiki—to list hours, classes and what’s in their permanent collections.