Last Thursday, I was able to attend the VIP Tour of the brand new Ogden Utah FamilySearch Center. As an added treat, my cousin Bobbi was able to join me to check out this AWESOME new facility. I was so impressed by this beautiful building and its wonderful purpose.
The main floor is all about discovery and family memories. The second floor is about preservation, work, and learning.
Throughout the building, there are beautiful photos of families, incredible design elements that include old photos and handwriting applied as wallpaper, and plenty of nooks for seating and recharging – literally and figuratively.
There is a child’s play area with four computer workstations for parents that overlook the play area. There is a lovely kitchen facility so individuals can bring snacks or lunch.
The Main Floor
The help desk is where you check out an iPad. Using the iPad, you log in to your FamilySearch account and then use the iPad in all of the discovery areas downstairs.
Each of the discovery walls features four touch screen TVs. Next to each TV is a magnetic (I think…?) docking station where you place the iPad. In each station, you get to explore different elements of your family as they are found on FamilySearch. There are some cool activities that can only be accessed here and not at home.
The “Picture My Heritage” area allows you to choose an old photo from somewhere around the world. The touchscreen TV shows you photos from the countries your ancestors are from first, and then photos from all over the world. You choose a photo and then line your face up within that photo. This activity can also be done at home here.
The largest TV (pictured at bottom left of the above grouping) has a green wall opposite. On the TV, you choose a photo background. Then you step back and stand on the designated footprints on the ground and a photo is taken of you and your family with a background you choose from around the world. All photos, videos, and other interactions are emailed to you after you leave the center.
The Discovery Experiences
Once you have logged into FamilySearch on the iPad it asks you to take a selfie – you can see mine above. Each row of TVs has a different discovery experience. The first two graphics were emailed to me, the rest were photos I took as I played.
I really liked the timeline feature for my ancestors. It allowed me to look at events from their life, world events during their life, and their photos and stories as seen in the tree on FamilySearch. I also loved the station that allowed me to view historical photos of places my ancestors have lived around the world.
I had to chuckle at my ethnicity estimate that is based on the tree – it includes 1% Irish. I have not come across a single event for my family in Ireland so I am super curious about that!
The Second Floor
The second floor is amazing!
The digitizing area includes two high-speed photo scanners – the kind you can feed large stacks of photos through; a very large flat-bed scanner (I was wishing I had a tape measure, it is very, very large); a regular flat-bed scanner; a slide scanner; a VHS to DVD or digital file; and a large photocopy machine that appears to be capable of scanning loose papers quickly. All machines can be reserved online for use in one-hour time slots.
There are two large classrooms that have a moveable wall between them so that it can be one very large classroom. The rooms are beautiful with computers, window coverings, and a screen and projector for the presenter.
The recharge areas are beautiful and have very convenient outlets and USB ports right in the sides of the couch and chairs so you can recharge any devices while you take a little break – bring your cord!
If that isn’t enough, the views out the windows are beautiful!
Everywhere you look there is something beautiful. The design is very clean and sleek and it celebrates the past and the present. The family images are lovely. The old photos have descriptions on the wall that tell you exactly what you are looking at. How cool would it be to visit this facility and discovery one of your own ancestors is part of the decor?!
My FAVORITE Feature
There are three special recording rooms. Two are small and could accommodate two people and one is large and could accommodate a whole family. After seating yourself, you dock your iPad and then you can record a video with your family or add audio descriptions to photos already in FamilySearch. There are interview questions you can use or you can just record and do your own thing.
The missionaries shared that one local family came in and recorded themselves singing together. What a cool idea! They also suggested that grandparents could bring in a grandchild and read them a favorite book. No matter how an individual or family chooses to spend this time, what a treasure those videos will be!
My only critique of these rooms is that FamilySearch doesn’t allow video uploads, so these videos are emailed to you afterward but can’t be preserved on FamilySearch at this time.
The audio, however, can be uploaded to the tree right then! So imagine how fun it would be to bring Grandma down and sit in the room with her and click through family photos together and record her telling you about the people and events in the photos. THAT is a treasure!
But guess what?! You don’t have to visit this amazing facility to do that. You can do it right now in the app or online at FamilySearch.org.
What a privilege to tour this beautiful new building. This center will be a great blessing to the people in the Ogden area. I hope that FamilySearch will build more facilities just like it in other places around the world. It is beautiful, designed well, perfect for families of all ages and such a gift to the community.
Like everything designed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and FamilySearch, this building is free to use by anyone. If you live nearby, I hope you will check it out very soon – and bring your FAMILY!
As I left, I took a quick shot of the Ogden Temple which is just across the street. So beautiful.
Happy Monday, I hope it’s a wonderful week filled with genealogy discovery! xoxo