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

Monday, July 9, 2018

Promoting a Local Family History Center
I have visited and learned about dozens (hundreds?) of small and large Family History Centers over the years all across the United States and into Canada. Recently, there is a lot of talk and interest in the future of the smaller centers. With the demise of a major Family History Center such as the Mesa, Arizona FamilySearch Library, I have received a new wave of comments and questions about the viability of Family History Centers.

One thing about a Family History Center, either large or small, they only thrive with a constant stream of promotion. The Centers where the director and staff simply show up to open the door and wait for patrons is the clear path to being completely ignored. I can easily give examples of Centers that are bucking the trend by focusing on a consistent and broad range of outreach promotion and varied activities. The page above is a good example of a Center that is pushing back and refuses to be ignored and unused.

Of course, promotion is not the only ingredient in establishing a viable and active Family History Center, but it is the key to keeping the operation going. Here is another example of an active, vibrant Family History Center.
These Centers obtain a high level of visibility and attendance by promoting a constant stream of activities and classes by means of websites and newsletters. While some Centers seem to struggle to have enough staff, others, with consistent promotion and innovative activities overflow with people every time they are open.

Here is another example.

Who is going to promote your Family History Center if you do not? I suggest that you start by looking around online at all the websites and newsletters available from other successful Family History Centers and get to work in working with your local Center.

By the way, it also helps to have Temple and Family History Consultants that realize that working with Ward and Branch members in the local Family History Center is a very effective way to keep busy and happy.

Since I have been here in Annapolis, Maryland, I have had terrific support from the Spa Creek Branch Presidency.  They are working with the members of the Branch so that my wife and I have people to work with every Sunday during the Sunday School time. This is in contrast to Wards where the leaders ignore this golden opportunity and put family history at the bottom of their list of things to do and think about. Even if you do not have a permanent facility, I have worked with Wards that had the members bring computers every week and used the time for help and instruction.

There is no reason to have an inactive Family History Center other than lack of commitment and interest on the part of the directors and staff.

I will have a lot more to say about this subject.

1 comment:

  1. Good job, Evans FHC! That's been the most successful way of communicating with the patrons for our small center since email lists are unwieldy and hard to maintain. People don't always remember to check a website, but most of them are on Facebook.

    "There is no reason to have an inactive Family History Center other than lack of commitment and interest on the part of the directors and staff."

    That works, as long as you include stake and ward leaders in the equation. We've lost several consultants recently to other callings or health crises and they have not been replaced, which means we have to cut our hours, which means we lose patrons when they can't come in during the few hours we can still staff the center. Some of our community members have volunteered to help, but per Church policy, they can't have keys, and any of the members staffing the center would have to drive up half an hour each way to open the center and might as well stay at that point.

    Certainly directors and consultants should be doing more PR and outreach, but sometimes it's an uphill battle to provide barebones service and staffing by volunteers who are working full-time and have families and are usually holding down one or two other callings at the same time. People here aren't just running and staffing the center; they're also teaching seminary or playing the organ on Sunday or running cub scouts or serving as temple workers, or some combination of the above.

    So, yes, the mythical center director who has good training, marketing skills, few family responsibilities, no other church callings, a manageable work life, good health, a large staff of willing and able volunteers, and adequate support from stake, ward, and FamilySearch undoubtedly should be doing a lot more, but I'm not sure that person exists. :)