Genealogy from the perspective of a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon, LDS)

Thursday, December 12, 2013

FamilySearch Centers as resources

As I travel around the United States, I find that the FamilySearch Centers are staffed by wonderful, competent people. They do an outstanding job in supporting genealogy research at their facilities. Unfortunately, the high quality of the FamilySearch Centers is not matched by the knowledge of the facility by the surrounding community even in the Wards and Stakes. Another under-used asset is the various websites maintained by the Centers and Libraries around the world. Here are a few of the outstanding websites maintained by FamilySearch Centers:
Many of the Centers have websites incorporated into the FamilySearch Research Wiki. You can find them by going to the Research Wiki and searching for the name of the city where they are located. To find a Center near you, go to and click on "Get Help." You can then click on a link to "Visit Us" and that will let you search for a FamilySearch Center in your area or you can click on this link to the FamilySearch Center Locator.

Here are some basic observations I would make about using a FamilySearch Center;

  1. Make sure of the Center's operation hours. Some of the FamilySearch Centers are only open certain hours during the week. Before making a trip to the FamilySearch Center, make sure that it will be open and staffed during the time of your visit. If you have special needs concerning a particular area of research, make sure that someone at the Center is available to answer your questions. It is entirely possible that only a small number of the volunteers at the Center will be well-versed in any particular area of expertise.
  2. When you visit the center for the first time, take a short tour of the facility to become acquainted with the resources available in any details of the operation of the Center. Some of the Centers have limited resources and mainly provide access to the online subscription services which are free at the Centers. In addition they may only have the capability of receiving microfilm orders which are now made online.
  3.  If you have specific questions that cannot be answered by the volunteers at the Center, be patient with the staff. You may need to call the helpline for FamilySearch regarding some of the questions about Family Tree or other programs that change frequently.
  4. If you are an expert in some aspect of genealogy, please consider volunteering to help at the Center. Volunteers are always welcome and at the very least you could provide telephone service to patrons who have questions in the particular area of your expertise.
Remember that the Centers are staffed by missionaries or volunteers that may not know the answers to all of your questions.

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