I received the following comment from a reader to a previous post.
What is the purpose of the FDCs? Is it thought that the novel visual displays will invite more than one visit by one person?The FDC in the comment refers to Family Discovery Centers. I have to admit, I have struggled with this question myself. It seems apparent to me that the Family Discover Centers are intended to be an introduction to the concepts of family history and engage the participants in family history oriented activities that are novel and non-threatening. What I see that is missing is the connection between the activities in the Family Discovery Center and further involvement in family history, particularly in becoming involved in the process of adding names to the FamilySearch.org Family Tree.
I have yet to see any statistics that tie a visit, or as the commentator points out, visits to a Family Discovery Center with an increase in family history activity. I certainly agree that the displays and the technology involved are impressive and entertaining. But do they accomplish the task of actually getting people interested in pursuing more information about their family? These are the types of questions I haven't seen addressed.
Of course, my opinion can be dismissed because I am a "traditional" genealogist and our entire approach to "family history" is negative and puts people off of wanting to do family history. But I would point out that personally I happen to be at the very cutting edge of the technology. I use a combination of mobile devices, iPads, iPhones, and all the rest of the most advanced technology available to push my research ahead as fast and as efficiently as possible. I also deal with whole, large classes of young adults and teenagers and successfully teach them how to find family names. I am just wondering what place the Family Discovery Centers have in this process?
I do understand that the Family Discovery Center concept is being adapted as an introduction at smaller Family History Centers and mobile applications are also being considered. Perhaps this is way to begin involvement by those who would otherwise not have an interest. But as yet there needs to be a path or connection directly from the Family Discovery Center experience to some way the people can learn how to find their ancestors. Just some thoughts. I am certainly not negative about the existing centers but I do think it would be a good idea to articulate how the Family Discovery Centers fit into the overall process of Find, Take and Teach.