LDS church breaks ground for new history center

A conceptual rendering of the new St. George FamilySearch Library | Photo courtesy of FamilySearch, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – The search to discover who we are and where we come from is getting easier and more exciting. Church leaders and members of the St. George Interfaith Council gathered Saturday morning to officially break ground on a new family history center.

Elders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints led a brief ceremony at the site of the new FamilySearch Library at 250 E. 600 South in St. George. The new 13,500 square foot facility, set to open fall of 2016, will replace the existing library and will include an interactive discovery center designed to engage visitors in a whole new way.

LDS church leaders take part in the groundbreaking ceremony for a new family research center in St. George, Utah, Aug. 18, 2015 | Photo by JJ DeForest, St. George News
LDS church leaders take part in the groundbreaking ceremony for a new family research center in St. George, Utah, Aug. 18, 2015 | Photo by JJ DeForest, St. George News

“This center will be unlike any other family history center we’ve had. It will be full of technology. You’ll walk in and there will be 55-inch monitors all over the place where you can go and see your family displayed, the migration of your family displayed in fun, interactive ways,” said Suzanne Curley, Patron Services manager for North America. “You’ll be able to learn about yourself. What happened the year you were born? What was going on in the world at that time? So it’s a very different approach to family history than most people are used to.”

Replacing the image of a library full of dusty books and microfilm is the goal of the discovery center concept designed to welcome families and support the libraries fastest-growing user group, researchers under the age of 25.

“They really have become kind of computer labs and places where dedicated genealogists go to do research, said Dennis Brimhall, CEO of FamilySearch. “What we realized is they really weren’t very inviting for families and for kids. So we began a concept of a discovery center where you come and discover things and the first thing you discover is yourself.”

Existing discovery centers are so popular, according to Brimhall, visitors must make reservations months in advance. The decision to combine a discovery center with a family history library will be a first for FamilySearch.

“This is a bit of a prototype to see what happens when you bring both of those together,” Brimhall said.

The design is meant to eliminate the fears and frustrations some people feel when they consider searching for their ancestors. Brimhall said most people avoid beginning family research because they don’t know where to start, think it’s too hard, or “Aunt Martha’s done it all,” he said, adding: “What we try to say is none of those things are true.”

A staff of 150 and an extensive research database will be available to assist those just beginning their family history search.

“You don’t have to do anything. We’ll help you,” Brimhall said. “And then we’ll help you find ancestors nobody’s ever found.”

The center offers the opportunity to add family information to the collection and record family stories for future generations to hear.

FamilySearch is the self-declared largest genealogy organization in the world. Brimhall said the library adds two million names a day to its database. The nonprofit group operates 4,800 family history centers worldwide. The public is welcome to visit and use the library free of charge.

“I have developed a rather intense feeling about the fact that deep down inside of every one of us is a longing to know our roots and from where we come,” Brimhall said during the ceremony. “It’s just in our DNA. We can’t stamp it out. We don’t want to. It’s there. So this is to help people satisfy that longing and desire to know their ancestors.”

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.

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16 Comments

  • 42214 August 16, 2015 at 8:45 am

    This will be a good one, they can call it the Joey Smith propaganda center for advanced studies.

    • anybody home August 16, 2015 at 12:40 pm

      And create even more history in the process…The libraries in St. George and Santa Clara have shelves and shelves of Mormon history and there’s plenty more at the college and in every nook and cranny. How much more do the Mormons need? What are they trying to prove with all this “history”?

      • 42214 August 16, 2015 at 1:25 pm

        This is their idea of transparency. Flood the media and other outlets with “their” version of the story under the guise of history.

      • fun bag August 16, 2015 at 1:28 pm

        This is how they advertise. Propaganda helps them with their brainwashing mission.

        • Dexter August 16, 2015 at 4:25 pm

          Well they can’t use waterboarding anymore

  • Dexter August 16, 2015 at 11:23 am

    Ha Ha I love it.!

    • Real Life August 16, 2015 at 6:32 pm

      Do yourself a favor. Shut up stupid.

      • Dexter August 17, 2015 at 5:52 pm

        Do yourself a favor Shut up stupid.!

  • beentheredonethat August 16, 2015 at 9:38 pm

    Don’t they do waterboarding at baptisms? Or when they “wash” the bride at temple weddings?

    • Dexter August 17, 2015 at 5:57 pm

      Hey did you see REAL LIFE VILLAGE IDIOT get all bent out of shape on my waterboarding comment.. LOL.! wooohooooo yeahhhhhhh babyyyyyyy. LOL.! ha ha ha ha. hey REAL LIFE VILLAGE IDIOT do yourself a favor and shut up stupid…..

  • Brian August 17, 2015 at 7:51 am

    Dumb as a box of rocks… If you’re going to be bigoted, at least try to be smart and creative about it. This is a Family History library, not a church history library. It’s about genealogy, not propaganda. Ignorance and humor never mix well.

    • ladybugavenger August 17, 2015 at 3:57 pm

      Church history, LDS family history….its the same thing…..the church wants LDS families to have lots of children so they can have more members

    • fun bag August 17, 2015 at 4:08 pm

      will there be missionaries hanging around trying to recruit new paying members? I went in the temple visitors center once and got ambushed by them, like hyenas to fresh meat, LOL

      • fun bag August 17, 2015 at 4:10 pm

        and the funny thing is I’m already a member. I’m just not a worthy member or a VIP member because I never laid down any cold hard cash…

        • ladybugavenger August 17, 2015 at 6:56 pm

          No cash=No unicorn….throw your membership away, it expired and you are not worthy

    • Simone August 17, 2015 at 6:23 pm

      Brian, if it’s about genealogy, not propaganda then why do they staff the “library” with Missionaries working for free instead of paid employees? Oh thats right, The Mormon church would much rather NOT PAY EMPLOYEES so they have money to build such necessities as a Family History Library and shrines to themselves (oops I mean “Temples”) then give a needy person a steady job.

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