FamilySearch is now offering sign-ups for free one-on-one online consultations with research specialists from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.
The consultations join existing live webinars and the online Help Center as some of the ways the Family History Library is making its expertise and resources available, despite being closed due to COVID-19 concerns.
They are designed to continue far beyond the pandemic so people don’t feel the need to travel to Salt Lake City for research help, said Lynn Turner, manager of the Family History Library.
“What we’re really looking to do is bring the library and knowledge of experts to people, instead of looking to bring more people into the library,” Turner said. “We’re trying to open our doors and share the resources of the library more worldwide and to a broader audience.”
1. Online consultations
As of June 4, sign-ups are now available for 20-minute online consultations on the FamilySearch wiki page. Consultations with a library specialist are held using Microsoft Teams (step-by-step instructions are also available on the wiki page).
Savannah Larson, a FamilySearch research consultant helping with the online consultations, said the purpose of offering the online meetings is to help support people with their family history — no matter where they are located or where they are in their research.
“The idea with these consultations is that we teach these patrons how to find things for themselves,” she said. “I hope they gain experience and confidence with their own research, so we can be there as a guidance when they need it, but they realize that this is something they can do.”
Consultations are currently offered in English and Spanish. Larson said they hope to add more languages and involve missionaries and volunteers in offering help.
2. Regularly scheduled live webinars
The Family History Library continues to offer free live webinars in English and Spanish. The subject matter changes frequently and no registration is required.
In June, topics include research help for Spanish, Dutch, Nordic and English records.
Here is a schedule of the remaining webinars in June (all class times are listed in MDT):
- June 9, 11 a.m.: ¿Qué dice? Como leer la escritura antigua (beginner level, taught in Spanish)
- June 9, 1 p.m.: Online Resources for Reading Dutch Documents (all levels)
- June 10, 1 p.m.: England Records Beyond the Grave (beginner)
- June 15, 1 p.m.: Best Practices on Family Tree for Nordic Ancestors (beginner)
- June 23, 11 a.m.: ¿Qué harías tu? (beginner, taught in Spanish)
- June 23, 1 p.m.: Oregon Land Donation Records (beginner)
3. Enhancing the Help Center
All previously recorded webinars and classes are available for free in FamilySearch’s Help Center.
The Help Center currently has more than 1,200 classes and can be a great resource for those looking for help with a specific topic or country, Turner said.
An update to the Help Center is expected to be released later this month. “It’s going to be a new interface so it will be easier to navigate,” he said. “We’re also enhancing the search engine optimization so that classes are easier to find.”