Wednesday, August 21, 2013

FamilySearch Blogger Dinner at FGS (FGS2013 Update 2)

Tuesday night FamilySearch held a dinner for the genealogy bloggers attending the FGS conference in Fort Wayne. They've been graciously doing it so long that it always feels like a family reunion when I attend one of their events.

As usual, FamilySearch has big plans, and they shared them with us.

First, we got the scoop that Diane Loosle was the new director of the Family History Library. This is a great choice on their part. We were lucky enough to hear some of her plans and upcoming changes at the Family History Library.

Loosle said that the FHL will have collaborative research spaces, with staff coming out from behind the counters to assist patrons. These spaces will be divided loosely by research interest and have all the tools one needs to do that research. She gave an example of the Nordic area of the library. Usually we get a film in one area and go to the microfilm readers in another area, or a computer in another. In the collaborative space, many of these things are grouped together. This lets Nordic researchers work among each other. What happens then is that they start talking and helping each other. Add that to the staff that are out and about and that's how collaborative research happens.

Paul Nauta then gave the most recent stats for FamilySearch holdings. They are up to 2.9 billion searchable names, with 1.7 million names being added daily. They are still filming like crazy with 237 camera teams around the world.

Nauta also hinted at a new kind of Family History Discovery Center. These are more interactive and outreaching than the traditional local Family History Centers we all know. They will include oral history recording studios and bells and whistles to help the casually interested folks get their family history down. The Discovery Centers--I think he said 4 or 5 are being planned initially--will be in high traffic/high tourist areas. He was pretty secretive about the locations so stay tuned for that.

FamilySearch Family Tree is coming along. It's technically not being promoted to the public yet, but it's growing fine. I know this because a client is paying me to use this service and I've already added several hundred names and 1050 photos to the big tree. I asked about the ability to add documents. He said that's coming this year, as well as the ability to add videos. Yay!

Family Search Indexing is launching an international marketing campaign in 10 languages to raise awareness and attract volunteers on a global level. I tried to find the video online to share but gave up. If anyone who was at the dinner has the link, can you let me know?

Nauta also gave a RootsTech 2014 update. The upcoming conference will expand to 600 satellite locations with an estimated 120,000 remote attendees. Registration opens this week and involves an early discount so sign up now.

That's it on the FamilySearch update front. They gave the bloggers a nice gift or a solar phone charger with flashlight. They always bring the quality swag.

Thank you, FamilySearch for the great evening.


  1. Thanks for the recap! And thanks for asking about when we'll be able to add documents to Family Tree. That's awesome news that this feature will be added this year. Hurray!

    1. Thanks, Jana! Yeah, I have all these multi-page WW2 letters that I want to add. It was the first question I asked of FamilySearch.

  2. I'm really looking forward to hearing more about the Discovery Center thing. I feel like if there was a place I could take non-genealogy friends and family to say, "This is what it's all about," they'd have a much clearer understanding of how all this works and why it's important. I'd be all over that.

  3. Thanks for posting this, Amy. I can't wait for the Discovery Centers - maybe they'll put one here in Los Angeles so I can go all crazy on it.