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Diane C. Loosle—Transforming Learning at FamilySearch

When Diane Loosle’s grandmother passed away, 13-year-old Diane offered to help her mother go through her grandmother’s things. Diane’s curiosity was piqued when she pulled a German Nazi flag out of her grandma’s old cedar chest. She knew there had to be a story behind that flag. Were there possible skeletons or a black sheep within her own family that she didn’t know about?

The discovery of the flag intrigued Diane and was the influencing force that interested her in her family’s history. Diane has been discovering captivating stories ever since.

the cedar chest in which diane found family history artifacts.

Diane Loosle’s Early Life

Diane grew up in Springville, Utah as one of 8 siblings. She attended Brigham Young University and majored in family history. Diane then took a job with the FamilySearch Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. It was not an easy position to land. It took Diane 3 years of volunteer work as a service missionary and long hours of temp employee work.

Diane began her career helping library patrons with their personal research. Eventually she became director of the ­world-renowned Family History Library, a position she held from 2013–2018. Diane has great leadership experience and strong genealogical knowledge as a certified genealogist and accredited genealogist (England research emphasis).

diane's family.

Along the way she also obtained her MBA. Because FamilySearch is an international nonprofit operation, Diane thought it important to understand business objectives and knowhow along with her genealogical acumen.

A major influence in Diane’s life was a foreign exchange student from France whom her family hosted. She loved learning about the culture of France and studied French in high school and in college. As she grew, her aspirations were to live abroad, possibly working in the US French Embassy. That’s where Diane was headed her first few years in college, but she changed her major to family history when she met her husband. He was an accounting major, and Diane knew his accounting career would serve them best in the United States. 

Diane’s Hobbies and Interests

Diane believes she may not be a typical genealogist. As a child she loved gymnastics and dreamed of performing choreographed routines. She has a love for adventure and learning about cultures.

Diane has additional loves that might be uncommon to most genealogists and surprising to fellow research professionals who think they might know her. She is fanatic about travel—both international and cross country in an RV. Although she is a whiz in the library, Diane craves her time in the outdoors and in the water, particularly scuba diving (her favorite dive spots so far are Cozumel, Mexico, and Kona, Hawaii).

diane and her husband scuba diving.

Diane’s projects with FamilySearch

Diane understands the importance of her work at FamilySearch, where she is currently the director of business development. In this capacity, she leads a team that explores new growth initiatives for FamilySearch.

One of Diane’s current projects is the “Transforming Learning Initiative.” She says, “We are working to help more people learn how to discover and connect with their family from the past, in the present, and in the future.” She adds there is usually a learning curve for making that happen.

The goal is to experiment with methods, tools, and experiences that help people learn organically without realizing they are learning. In other words, she takes complex research methods necessary to make new family history discoveries and makes them simple, intuitive experiences for beginners.  That way, they don’t know they are actually doing something that could otherwise be considered a very daunting task. And it keeps them coming back.

Special Experiences Make Family History Work Rewarding

Of her job, Diane says, “It has been an incredible journey to work for FamilySearch. I get to work with amazing people. I also have many opportunities to interact with the public. I love my job.” While there is much Diane loves about her work, one of the best parts is the miracles that she sees daily. “We call it the genealogical serendipity of family history—the tiny miracles or gifts that occur…things that happen that you can’t explain.” Diane hopes to one day compile all of these vast experiences in a book.

Here are just a few of the experiences Diane has had.

On one occasion, a couple came into the library looking for a book, which Diane could not find. Diane knew she had seen it there earlier in the week. The couple had to return home to Idaho early the next morning. Diane could not get the book they were looking for out of her mind all night. First thing the next morning she checked the shelf again. It was there.

Diane as a little girl.

She was frustrated, because she realized she did not have the couple’s contact information to let them know she had found the book they were earnestly seeking. She suddenly remembered she had a group coming that morning and hurried to the lobby of the library to meet her group. They were delayed, so she took a seat in the lobby to wait. While seated, in came the Idaho couple. Diane jumped up to greet them and tell them she had found the book.

That morning this sweet couple had driven all the way to the Idaho border (a 3-hour drive) and had a strong impression they needed to return to the library. Had Diane’s group arrived on time, she would have missed this couple and never been able to tell them she had found the book. Diane was able to give them the book which contained the information they had been searching for.

Diane's great-uncle.

Often, patrons who visit the FamilySearch Family History Library will request information or books with little or no information. In one instance a young woman came to Diane and asked, “I was here a few years back and was looking at a red book.” She had no descriptive information on the author, the title, or the section of the library she had been in. All she remembered was that it was red, and she needed to find that book.

Diane began with, “Tell me about the book….” The girl passionately explained the book and its contents as she remembered. Diane was able to locate the book and give it to the girl. Diane smiled saying, “Experiences like this happen all the time at FamilySearch. It is a miracle that I was able to find her red book out of the 300,000+ books in the library.”

Not all days in Diane’s life are easy. Some days she faces tasks that seem insurmountable. “I like to call the forces of evil gremlins!” Diane laughs. “But the forces of good always seem to win. All of us at FamilySearch know we can do hard things and eventually solutions and the answers do come.”

Diane’s passion makes the work rewarding

Diane feels it is an incredible journey to work for FamilySearch. “There is a special power when people come together with their ancestors and realize we are all a family. You and I are not as different as the world might want us to think we are. I have found when people find out they are related…barriers come down.”

Diane says that FamilySearch’s goal is to introduce as many people as possible to their genealogy. It is important for all ages—young children to the elderly. “FamilySearch blesses everyone’s life. It strengthens us and unifies us.”

With Diane’s dedication, she could have been a successful gymnast or an effective ambassador to France. Fortunately, she knew her passion, and with a bit of destiny, Diane is where she needs to be. Her compassion, love for people, leadership, and dedication are ever present as she looks for new ways to grow FamilySearch patron discovery and connection opportunities.

Diane's great-uncle's platoon patch.

Oh…and that German flag that helped trigger Diane’s fascination with her family history as a young child? Turns out it wasn’t a skeleton in the family history closet after all. Diane discovered her great uncle (her grandmother’s brother-in-law) served in a US tank platoon during WWII that liberated a French community from the Nazi occupation. He sent the flag home to his family as a token reminder of the success of their military campaign.

Source: Family Search

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