Saturday, October 23, 2010

FamilySearch Bloggers' Day, Part 3

See part 1 here and part 2 here

Family History Library/Family Search Centers
This session talked about the Family History Library (FHL) in Salt Lake City and the approximately 4,600 Family History Centers (FHC) all over the world.

Don Anderson, FamilySearch (FS) Director of World Wide Support Services led this session. He discussed the efforts of FHL to measure customer/patron/user satisfaction. Their service goal is to help you meet your research goal.

Anderson also discussed FHCs. Since there are so many, each does things differently. Some better than others. There is an initiative to improve the FHC experience and get all the centers on the same page. In the future, we (users) may see a new type of center. Not sure how much I can share, but I liked it and know you will, too.

Also, eventually we (as in North America) will be able to order films online and have them delivered to our local FHCs. This is great because it saves me a trip and I don't have to fill out anymore of those slips. I always lost them anyway. I forgot to ask about how renewals will be handled. Wonder how that will go?

FamilySearch Online Research Courses: Bringing the teacher to you
Travis Jordan talked about the online courses available through FS. There are a ton of them. You should check it out. Travis shared the various types of videos available and gave a glimpse at what the future holds in this area.

Someone (or a few) in the audience expressed concern that these videos will steal some thunder (and possibly profit) from local genealogy societies. The discussion moved toward how societies could benefit, even offering such educational opportunities for little cost. There was no final resolution to the topic, but FamilySearch seems open and willing to work with societies on a common educational goal.

Wiki: Community knowledge, by the community, for the community, 24/7
Diane Loosle led the conversation regarding the FamilySearch Wiki. According to the stats, there have been  5.5 million page views so far, with growth of 500 articles per week.

At this point, I failed in my reporting duties because I started playing with the wiki. I got so distracted by the shiny objects that I missed a bit of the talk, but seriously, there was a lot of stuff on that wiki. Hard to turn away.

In the future, the page creation process will be simplified. You do not need to know code to contribute or even build a wiki page. Everybody knows something about something, even if it's the history of where you live. Did a cemetery change names and you know the old name? Then you're knowledge is needed for the wiki.

Genealogy societies are also encouraged to set up their own wiki pages. Not only will it drive traffic to you, it also acts as an archive of your organization. Preserve history for the next generation. Think about it.

Forums: Reference consultants you can "take home"
Anne Roach discussed FamilySearch Forums, a feature I admittedly don't use as much as I should. Here's the deal: 1) you don't have to register to use the forums, but if you do, you'll get notices when your queries are answered, 2) there are areas for research advice as well as support for using FamilySearch tools, 3) you can search related topics, 4) you can have "friends" and create a social group.

In the future, the forums will have world-wide reach in many languages. There will also be a visual facelift to the forum site as well as improved functionality.

On to part 4 here.

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