Thursday, March 22, 2007

Your own Ancestry access may be restricted in LDS buildings

Did you know that you may not be able to use your personal subscription in an LDS church building - like the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, or a local Family History Center? James W. Petty's post on the APG list explains why.

The money part of James' post says:

"When the Family History begins using an extremely reduced form of on April 2nd, patrons, including professional researchers will not be able to access their own subscriptions of on computers used within LDS Church buildings. Ancestry has assigned an ISPN address to the LDS Church in general, which includes the Family History Library, all Church administration buildings around Temple Square in Salt Lake City, and all LDS chapels where Family History Centers are located (including church owned schools like BYU), causing the computers detected as operating at those places to automatically log on to the LDS ISPN. Anyone doing research at any of these facilities desiring to access will have to go away from the buildings to access it with their own laptop computers, or go to public libraries that carry, or wait until they go home to their desktop computers. This is a situation that Ancestry set up, and the Family History Library has no control over it."

This may raise even more antagonism to than the initial announcement, since most of us comprehend that Ancestry was providing free access at the FHCs. Let's remember that there will still be limited access at the FHL and FHCs, just not full access. It may be that the FHCs, and the FHL, will set up a separate wireless network that would permit personal user access to and other web sites.

From my own experience at my local library, I can log in to my own Ancestry subscription even though the library subscribes to Ancestry Library Edition. The wireless network at the library for personal computer users is separate from the wireless library computer network with ALE access.

I hope that my subscription agreement with permits me to access the service anywhere I am - whether at home, at an Internet cafe, at a local library, or in an FHC. Of course, they may change the agreement at some point. Can some lawyer-type check into what the subscription agreement actually says concerning this?

On the related subject, Renee Zamora has an interesting response from Ancestry to her question about FHC access - read it at They didn't answer her reasonable question - they sent her a form letter!

This bomb just keeps exploding, doesn't it? Who wants to bet that there will be some sort of agreement reached for FHL/FHC access to the full subscription? I think there will be - the issue is when?


Anonymous said...

I have some serious questions about the situation as explained by James Petty. We here at the Seattle Public Library also provide Ancestry with a limited set of IP addresses to be used as part of our subscription. That is standard practice in the database industry. That does not stop our patrons from using their own Ancestry account via the open Internet. In fact they do it all the time. The IP addresses provided to Ancestry (not from Ancestry) allow Ancestry to authenticate the log-in without the patron having to enter a password or username. So I have some problems with the set up as discussed by James. I suggest we take a wait and see approach. Ancestry is being set-up as a bad guy here. While I'm no their biggest fan we need to remember that they make the vast majority of their income off of the individual user and any institutional access they provide, whether at an FHC or in my library, cuts into that base. Genealogy is the only area that I am aware of where a database provider gets more of its income from the public than from insitutional users. I would hate to see that change.
Heather McLeland-Wieser, C.G. MLS

Anonymous said...

I am not the biggest fan of Ancestry either. That being said I do understand why Ancestry would disallow people from logging in at FHC's on their personal accounts. They don't want someone to log in on their personal account and leave it logged in for everyone at the FHC to use thereby circumventing licensing agreements.

Anonymous said...

It's a slippery slope when companies start determining when and where we can log into personal accounts. Perhaps one could log in at a FHC and let everyone use their account. One could also share their login information with a group of people and cut into Ancestry revenue that way. What's next... limiting the number of IPs from which we can access a personal account? The idea of the internet and the move towards wireless is "anytime, anywhere," not "where we decide you can, in places we deem appropriate."