Sunday, November 06, 2016

Ol' Myrt visits the new Layton FamilySearch Center

There's a new kind of FamilySearch Center up in Layton, Utah, and I think it's the wave of things to come - lots of computers and no microfilm. I was happily impressed when visiting the facility this week, though there are two things yet to tweak to make this a top-notch experience for family historians of all experience levels. This is my report.

Layton FamilySearch Center
915 W Gordon Ave, Layton, UT 84041-4811

  • Monday and Friday - 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday - 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
  • Saturday - 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Upcoming Holiday Schedule:

  • Closed for Thanksgiving: November 23-26, 2016
  • Closed for Christmas: December 23-26, 2016
  • Closed for New Year's: December 31, 2016 - January 2, 2017

Though I live 45 minutes away, getting to the new Center was a snap. It's just a few blocks west of I-15 at exit 331 on newly widened and paved roads.

In addition to 140 touch screen computer workstations in a variety of settings, the Center offers:
  • 3 large (perhaps 70 inch) touch screen wall-mounted monitors
  • 2 recording studios - book online
  • high speed photo and slide scanner - book online
  • 1 large family room with VHS to DVD transfer equipment - book online
  • kitchen and eating area - complete with fridge and microwave 
  • space for a large call center - with a large pool of potential volunteers close by
  • a large classroom with workstations - easily divided into three smaller classrooms. The current docket includes:
    FamilySearch Basics Class

    1.3 Family History: "Find, Take, and Teach" Class 
    1.4 Indexing Class
IMAGE:  Courtesy of Layton FamilySearch Center
My personal tour guide was Tara Scott, one of 160 volunteer staffers who are cross-trained on all equipment. While I was taken in by the bright green on gray/white color scheme, Tara pointed out the larger-than-life ancestor portraits and handwritten letters that wrapped some walls instead of old generic wallpaper. Tara answered my query about the ultra-modern design with the seemingly out-of-place wooden beams hanging below the exposed HVAC duct work. Be sure to ask about their interesting historical connection when you visit.
IMAGE: Internet and electricity hookups abound,
from the author's personal collection.

IMAGE: The children's play area,
from the author's personal collection.


Handicapped access
1. On the south side of the building, the sidewalk does not include a "ramp" transition between the high curb and the blacktop with multiple handicapped spaces. I had to drive my electric wheelchair in the street to the north side of the building to enter the building. 

2. The exit sidewalk on the east side of the building does not include a "ramp" transition. I observed an elderly lady using a walker at that exit. She was unsteady, and would require the ramp and then walking in the street around the building to get to the parking areas on the north and south side.

3. Sidewalks don't go around the building. If a person such as myself cannot find handicapped parking in the front, one must drive to the back where a larger number of handicapped spots are available. Yet without adequate ramp transition between the blacktop and the back door patio, one must travel in the narrow street on either the east or west side of the building. With an unusually wide guttering at the curb, this necessitated my being in the main lane of car traffic. This was frighteningly unsafe.

Social Media Outreach
It was explained there are no plans for a Facebook group to assist in distributing info about upcoming events or sudden changes of hours due to inclement weather, etc. This is in stark contrast to the decision by to close down it's website's forums in favor of setting up Facebook groups for regions of the world and a variety of ethnic group research assistance. Hopefully this policy will change. I remember when the LDS Church was "never" going to have a website, now you'll find our missionaries use tablets and smart phones in their work.

Yes, eventually, all those microfilm in the Granite Mountain Vault will be digitized, so we won't be ordering microfilm. We have been hearing about it for many years. I believe our North American "Family History Centers" or "FamilySearch Centers" will become centers for learning and sharing. High speed internet access to a variety of resources doesn't hurt either. As FamilySearch International attempts to reach out to folks throughout the world, the needs are different. In Ghana, it's all about recording the oral histories, and in Layton, Utah it's about parents of large families juggling children and finding time to climb their family trees.

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