Last week the focus was on help available from Family History Consultants. These volunteers who work in family history centers and individually with patrons searching for ancestors are one of the best resources available for those engaging in family history. There are a number of resources available to these volunteers to help them in their assignments. Many of these resources are also available to anyone who would like to learn more and offer assistance to others.
If you are a family history consultant, or someone who would like to volunteer to help others, one of the first steps is to register. FamilySearch has set up a website to allow for this and to provide communication to those helping with family history questions. The website to register is consultant.FamilySearch.org . At this site you can register as a family history consultant or as someone interested in helping others with family history.
Registering provides several benefits. First, those who register gain early access to FamilySearch products and beta testing. This will give an early look to what is coming and will allow an understanding of new features on FamilySearch products before they are released to the general public. Second, there are weekly communications sent to those who register. These communications are focused on how to perform the assignment of helping with family history more productively and successfully. They also provide news and updates from FamilySearch. Information about additional records sets that are published are sent. Upcoming indexing initiatives and programs are communicated. Information about upcoming conferences is made available and there are often discounts and special tracks for family history consultants at these conferences.
A good example of discounts at conferences is the upcoming RootsTech conference. There is a special track for Family History Consultants that is free and Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be speaking to those attending the Family History Consultant sessions. Consultants can also attend the keynote lecture each day for free. A fifty percent discount is offered to Family History Consultants who register to attend RootsTech. If you are a Family History Consultant, this is an opportunity to participate in a great conference at a discounted rate. There are also nearly always free tracks and classes at the Family History Expos conferences held in many locations around the United States.
Family history consultants and other registered volunteers have access to special training to help with FamilySearch products. After registration instructions are sent on how to access the training. Topics include the role of family history consultant, responsibilities, information on the best approaches in helping others, and a training module specifically focused on how consultants can receive help to answer questions to which they do not know the answers.
One of the best kept secrets as a resource for consultants is training.familysearch.org . At this site consultants will find a training version of the family tree system from FamilySearch.org, called new FamilySearch. The site has a full working version of new FamilySearch with fictitious data that can be used for training. There are also PDF lessons that can be used to teach how to use the system. The PDFs provide exercises that can be completed on the training system to understand and interact with the key features of new FamilySearch. For those who are unsure of themselves or who are concerned that they will cause problems in the real system, this experience can provide exercises to give them confidence. The best way to use this system is to work one on one with a family history consultant who can provide personal assistance to the patron.
There are also resources available on LDS.org. Under the serving in the Church, other callings, is a family history section. One of the newest resources available here is the Leader’s Guide to Family History. This document is a manual for Church leaders on how to organize family history work in wards and stakes. As a consultant, this guide can provide insights into how to build a successful program in your ward.
I have written often about the FamilySearch Wiki (wiki.FamilySearch.org) and forums (forums.FamilySearch.org). These, as well as the new online courses, at FamilySearch.org are wonderful resources to find answers, and increase your knowledge as well as the knowledge of those you are helping. There are few more rewarding experiences than helping those who are beginning the journey of finding their family. The growing set of resources available from FamilySearch can help smooth out the bumps of learning as you journey down the path towards success in helping others.