Family History Library in SLC unveils new interactive discovery experience

Posted at 9:57 PM, Feb 12, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-12 23:57:59-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- Connecting the dots of your family history just got easier in Salt Lake City, as the family history library has a new interactive discovery experience for the whole family.

There are two ways to take advantage of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Family History Library, which is located at 35 North and West Temple in Salt Lake City.

“One, you can come and do deep research and find out those brick walls and those ancestors you don’t know,” said Tamra Stansfield, the library manager. “But the new, exciting experience that we’ve just opened up—the discovery experience—takes the information that’s in your family tree and serves it up a new way.”

The discovery experience puts more than 10,000 square feet of interactive technology at your fingertips. The display includes 100 custom iPads, 44 touch screen monitors, and 42 computers.

Joy Jones, General President of the LDS Church’s Primary program, said it all works together to give families the chance to trace their ancestry back hundreds of years.

“There’s so much to learn about your family here,” Jones said. “It’s a fascinating place for children to come with their parents, with siblings, with grandparents, and to have an experience learning more about all the people who have gone before them.”

The experience is simple to navigate. Once you walk through the door, staff hand you an iPad. All you have to do is dock it at each station, and you're immediately connected.

“I stood in front of a green screen and I had a scene of a hillside village in Denmark behind me, and the picture was taken and then here I am standing in that beautiful green field in Denmark,” Jones said of her experience.

The experience features 55-inch monitors that you can touch to see information that goes beyond the typical pedigree charts and family group records.

“Explore your migration pattern of your ancestors, take fun photos in their time period, and, also, we provide individual and group recording booths that you can come and actually bring your family, and capture those living memories and stories,” Stansfield said.

Jones said the interactivity creates a personalized experience.

“Well I’ve never been to Denmark, but many of my ancestors came from Denmark, and it was emotional for me to feel this connection to a land and people that I’ve never met, and have never been there, and yet I felt the connection,” she said.

Staff members say anyone is invited to explore their history, but they add that doing so as a family is part of the unifying experience.

“The reason we do this is because we believe in families,” Stansfield said.

To learn more about the Family History Library, visit their website.