I was recently called as a 'Technology Specialist' to my ward's 'Welcoming Committee'.
My ward is a SLC-located YSA-specific ward, focused at university students.
Most if not all of the companion wards in my stake and adjoining stakes have traditionally utilized several tools to increase fellowshiping in these very high turnover units. One of the most critical objectives is to maintain a names-to-faces awareness by the ward's leadership of the constantly changing congregation.
- Each Bishop has a large whiteboard in their office with all (active only?) members photo's with magnets to provide an immediate visual overview of present ward organization. Pictures are approximately 1.5"x2" and have the member's name printed on them.
- The ward website is frequently used to generate a hard-copy of what is humorously called the 'Ward Menu', as even us kids can grudgingly admit that having a hard-copy list of names and faces can often be easier to browse than an electronic form.
- A variant of 1 and 2 is also desired, eg a high-density page(s) of thumbnail pictures with only names.
- Pictures for the whiteboard need to be ready for display no later than the Tuesday following the new member's first Sabbath of attendance (when they submit their new member information)
- A directory with photos needs to be available for print on demand. This can be generated from the 'All Members with Photos' view from the Ward web site if necessary.
- An expanded directory for Bishopric use is also desired. This would add the names of currently assigned home teachers, current calling and date of sustaining, and a yes/no indicator of whether an MRN is present for the member.
As this project has snowballed over the past month, along with the new school year triggering a significant membership shift, there's been several issues come up that I've been uncertain as to where to find answers to. I'm sure there's a policy or explanation for them, I'm just not sure where to look or who to ask.
- What is the policy regarding publication of birthdates, or where can I find the policy? I've seen directories from many-many years ago that dropped the year for members older than 18 or 21, is that still usable or should it be only visible to the Bishopric/Leadership?
- Is coordinating a project like this delegatable to a non-leadership calling? Can it be done by non-clerks with approval by the Bishopric? Is there a field-by-field policy of what may and may not be delegated?
- Can MLS make custom print layouts, and integrate photos from external (linked?) files, or is it limited to custom report queries only?
- Can Custom Reports be saved as digital files, or only printed as hard-copies?
- I'm aware of the policy directing that unit 'business' should not be done on any public-facing provider other than *.lds.org (although I don't have the reference handy), what restrictions are there on processing the data on a personal computer with the objective of creating alternative print layouts?
- Is the Python scripting engine approved for installation on church asset clerk computers? What about Imagemagick? One of the objectives is for the directory system to be maintainable. I've setup less tech-savvy individuals previously with imagemagick, 'in' and 'out' folders, and a batch file for automaticly scaling any digital camera picture for use on the ward website. Python would be ideal for creating a CSV > XML converter to merge the various MLS exports, and then print them.