Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Monday, January 9, 2012

My predictions for FamilySearch

It is really easy to make predictions about things when you have no actual data to confuse your speculations. But forging ahead without data doesn't seem to slow me down (much). I have been watching FamilySearch rather closely now for a number of years and I feel moderately confident in making some general observations with a sprinkling of specific predictions about what will happen in the not too distant future.

Note: If I don't know something, I am free to speculate. If I do know something I wouldn't let on that I did. That's what comes from my previous life as a spy. I do not violate confidences. (Yes, I really was a spy).

It is apparent that the main thrust of the effort at FamilySearch has been and will continue to be moving millions and millions of records from the microfilm in the Granite Vault to the Historical Record Collections. So far, things have gone wonderfully from the consumer standpoint, but there is a crisis looming on the near horizon. The number of collections is growing so large (more than 1000) that the present method of listing them all in a long list has got to be modified some time soon. My first prediction is another method of organizing the Historical Record Collections is likely in the planning stage. is now a very large and complex website. The startup page is woefully inadequate to put users on notice of the types of resources available. The Research Wiki and the TechTips sites are effectively hidden from view and not readily accessible. I would suggest that FamilySearch will reveal a major redesign of the startup page, probably at RootsTech. This is a pretty safe guess, since we got a brief view of a test version of a reworked startup page last month. is long overdue for a substantial makeover to address the multitude of present limitations in the program. There was a not too confidential release of a Beta version of a preliminary version of the program circulating. But since the sort-of introduction of a Beta version, there has been no further communication I have picked up. RootsTech would be a good time for further information, but my prediction is that things haven't progressed far enough and there will little more, if anything, said at RootsTech this year than was said last year on the same subject. On this one, I hope I am wrong.

We probably will not know anything about it, but with the selection of a new CEO at FamilySearch, I would guess there will be some internal reorganization. I doubt anything will be publicly said, but there may be some external changes based on newly implemented organizations or policies. We did get an instruction that the Mesa Regional Family History Center was now to be known as the Mesa Family History Center, dropping the "Regional" part of the name. The real name by the way is the Mesa Arizona Large Multi-Stake Center.   Don't look for too much or anything about this at RootsTech.

Some of the parts of the website may get a face lift or more prominence. This is sort-of related to the startup page but I am guessing that other programs may be modified or even dropped from the site or maybe moved to some other site? Here is one example of what I have found. Here is a screen shot of a newly redesigned page of a digitized book in the Family History Library Catalog:

Here is another example of what comes up now when you find a digitized book in the Family History Library catalog:

Here is what you see when you click on the link to the publication:

My prediction is that this change in format means they are finally going ahead and adding more digitized books to their existing online collection after waiting for more than two years.

As FamilySearch has said, "Many other behind the scene changes were made that users will probably not notice but will make the search experience in FamilySearch a better experience for everyone. We hope these changes are helpful." See Feature Changes in—21 December 2011.


  1. They don't seem to have told you the Mesa Family History Center is now the Mesa FamilySearch Center. No one told us at our FHC in Bonham, Texas either!

  2. A lot of people have taken it that way, but in reality, the small centers are all still called Family History Centers. The term "FamilySearch Center" is an umbrella term that covers the Family History Library, the FamilySearch Library in Riverton, and all the FHCs. Hope that helps....

  3. James, this post of yours and one from yesterday got me thinking about the beta. I'm also subscribed to get e-mails when people add to the GetSatisfaction feedback board. I noticed interesting new feedback. As a result, I visited the beta and made a new screencast blog post that I hope will be worth your time: