The Federation of Genealogical Societies conference is going in right now in Ft. Wayne, Indiana home of the Allen County Public Library. The Allen County Library is one of the largest genealogical libraries in the United States.
There are many announcements being made. FamilySearch was particularly active, communicating a number of changes and new initiatives.
First, The Family History Library in Salt Lake City has a new Director. Diane Loosle will be the first female director in the history of The Family History Library. The Family History Library was established in 1894 and currently is the largest genealogical library in the world with more than 400,000 visitors annually from all over the world and more than 1.5 million items in its collection.
Loosle is a 19 year veteran of FamilySearch, is an accredited and certified genealogist, and has served in many positions at FamilySearch, including manager of patron services for the Library. Loosle was also the pioneer of the FamilySearch Wiki. The wiki now has nearly 100,000 articles and receives more than 700,000 unique visitors per month. Loosle’s unique blend of genealogical knowledge, business savvy, and leadership skills will be a tremendous asset for FamilySearch and for genealogical researchers worldwide.
FamilySearch also announced that they now have more than 3 billion records online and that their collaborative family tree has nearly a billion unique individuals linked into families. Since its launch to the general public earlier this year, many genealogists have added their information to the tree. General public contributions now represent nearly a third of all the additions to the tree.
FamilySearch began adding photos to the tree in April. Since that time nearly a million photos have been added and the pace is increasing. During the past week nearly 5,000 photos per day were added to the site.
Behind the scenes FamilySearch has been working on a new approach to its network of family history centers. They are prototyping what they are calling “Discovery Centers”. These centers are targeted at those who are interested in learning more about themselves and their families, but who may not be interested in doing genealogical research. The centers will create a multimedia experience to help individuals learn about, connect with, and experience the events of their own lives as well as the lives of their ancestors. The prototypes will begin in a approximately 5-10 locations next year, and if successful will be implemented more broadly in years to come. FamilySearch hopes that these centers will broaden interest in family history and help more individuals become involved.
FamilySearch now has nearly 250 cameras in many countries worldwide capturing digital images of genealogical records. They have plans to expand that number to 500 cameras, primarily using volunteers. This will mean that researchers worldwide will have access to records never before available without a visit to an archive.
These announcements are part of a long term plan by FamilySearch to engage more individuals, work with more organizations to make information and experiences more widely available, create more enjoyable family history experiences and dramatically increase the pace of genealogical discovery.