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Family history centers in Salt Lake area will be consolidated

Published: Thursday, May 13 2010 12:18 a.m. MDT

RIVERTON, Utah — Twenty-four Utah family history centers closed recently, but FamilySearch has big plans for the resources once housed in these smaller facilities.A new family history library, designed to create more space, extended hours and expanded resources for family history work, will open next month in the south end of the Salt Lake Valley. The Riverton FamilySearch Library will be an asset similar to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City."This is a great place for all to come," said Mary Ritchie, program manager for large multistake family history centers.An open house is tentatively scheduled for mid-June, followed by the public opening. Exact dates have not been determined.The consolidation is designed to better utilize facilities and provide resources not available in the smaller family history centers, Ritchie said.The new library will have 127 patron computers, multiple training rooms, a large auditorium and a collection of microfilm. Patrons will have access to subscription genealogy sites, such as Ancestry.com, that would not be available at a smaller family history center.The spacious Riverton facility will also allow for regular seminars and training sessions, similar to those held at the Salt Lake library. It will also provide a convenient alternative for those who can't always get to the downtown library.The 24 family history centers closed April 30. Prior to the closure, there were 54 family history centers in Salt Lake County.The move affects 88 Mormon stakes. Priesthood leaders were recently notified about the consolidation by letter.The Riverton FamilySearch Library is located in church offices at the intersection of 13400 South and Bangerter Highway.Volunteers at those 24 family history centers have been relieved of their duties, but their expertise and service are needed at the new facility.More than 1,000 volunteers supported the recently closed family history centers in a relatively small area, said Paul Nauta, public affairs manager for FamilySearch."Why not take advantage of those geographic and demographic opportunities and the new facility that the church owns in Riverton and create a new state-of-the-art family history library?" Nauta said. "It is a unique opportunity."In this particular area, volunteers would often work an entire shift and see no visitors, Ritchie said."The need for family history centers is still great," she said. "It's just some of these centers didn't have very many patrons that would come in."We have found that we have experts all around the valley that have been teaching to one or two people in their little groups. Now that we have a larger facility (where) we can bring in hundreds of people, we can invite these experts to come and to share their knowledge (with) large groups."FamilySearch is hoping to staff the new library with church service missionaries who can commit to a minimum of 16 hours per week. Other volunteers can serve when able.Those interested in serving should contact Ritchie at ritchiemj@familysearch.org or 801-240-4324.


E-mail: ashill@desnews.com

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