Steady improvements to websites, mobile applications, scripture products, curriculum and other materials produced by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been made in recent years as the Church has engaged in a conscious effort to simplify and improve its offerings to members, allowing them to focus on the core purposes of the gospel in their personal and family study.
“The leaders of the Church are setting an example in simplifying the work to help extend and increase the blessings of the Lord to individuals and families around the world,” explained Sister Michelle D. Craig, second counselor in the Young Women general presidency and a member of the scriptures committee. “We can feel the Lord hastening His work to gather Israel. And with this hastening comes the joyful imperative to simplify and focus,” she said.
This simplification “has been an effort of looking at everything in our processes from beginning to end and asking, ‘Where can we improve, and what would save either time or resources?’” said Brent Meisinger, a product manager in the Church’s scripture division. “Many people, from managers and linguists, to skilled producers, designers, typesetters, and press professionals help to inform all the improvements that are being made.”
Much of their work is about helping individuals and families to simplify their lives, explained Rob Jex, one of the Church’s product managers. “This is where our jobs become most meaningful.”
As has been done in previous years, starting Dec. 15, the Church will reduce the number of styles offered for the aesthetic bindings of the scriptures. Fourteen styles will be discontinued in the English translations which will also result in reducing six of the same styles in Spanish, and one style in Portuguese, Japanese, and Korean.
The styles being reduced include compact-sizes across all languages in which they are available, snap closure covers, and both brown and burgundy color options. (Military pocket-size products will remain available).
“One of the purposes for this reduction is a movement towards more equity across languages,” said Kelly Gibson, one of the Church’s scriptures product managers. “Most languages have three or four options for their printed scriptures.”
Other changes have been made in recent years to help save time and resources in the printing of various styles of scriptures. The process for putting thumb tabs to mark the various books of scripture was recently revised to semi-automate an old manual process. Additionally, the introduction of a new digital press in 2013 has allowed translated editions in different languages to be more efficiently printed, even at lower quantities.
New options through new technology
Use of the Church’s Gospel Library App, which was first released as a scriptures app in January 2010, has continually increased over the years. The capabilities and functionality have improved, allowing for personalized, home-centered Gospel study experiences.
“Just a few short years ago I never imagined that I would be using a digital device to study the scriptures,” Sister Craig said. “Using the Gospel Library app, with its unlimited margins, has allowed me to capture thoughts and impressions that otherwise might have been lost.
“The app has helped me study gospel topics more deeply and to organize my thoughts and other study materials in a way that makes sense to me,” Sister Craig said.
Another major change, regarding the production of scripture audio recordings, began in 2014.
Previously, all audio recordings of the scriptures were done in professional studios with language coaches, script monitors, and sound engineers and producers. But a more efficient process has been introduced where voice talents are provided with a high quality microphone and online recording program to produce recordings of a quality respectful of the scriptures. With the new system in place, the committee is moving forward with recording an increasing number of languages.
Changes continue to be made as part of an ongoing process, Brent Meisinger, product manager in the scriptures division explained. “We’re still looking at products, processes, and policies to see where else we can introduce efficiencies,” he said. “In every area, small changes can make a big difference. And with the help of the Lord, we will be able to find solutions we previously never thought possible nor imagined. His guidance is the most crucial aspect of this work.”