Saturday, May 19, 2007

80 Billion Records to go online

80 Billion is a very large number - that's the number of records that the LDS Church hopes to add to in the coming years.

An excellent article in The Deseret Morning News (Salt Lake City, Utah) by Carrie A. Moore, titled "80 Billion Family Files to go online," describes the process that will enable these records to go online. The lead paragraphs say:

" In what officials say will be a quantum leap forward in providing family history information online, the LDS Church has announced a plan designed to eventually help provide access to as many as 80 billion family records on the Web, in addition to the tens of billions of records it is currently indexing out of its own Granite Vault microfilm archives.

"The new Records Access program is being announced this week at the annual meeting of the National Genealogical Society (NGS) in Richmond, Va. The announcement details specifics of how the church is creating partnerships with various archives and other records depositories in a move to become the world's premier international "clearinghouse" for family history."

Some additional meaningful quotes from the article:

"Once the church has signed an agreement to work with a specific organization, personnel there "typically want to recruit their own patrons to help them index. But with imaging the documents — taking digital photos of them — we do that for them in almost all cases. ... They want preservation-quality digital images, and we do that better than anybody. We've been doing it for decades," to produce the 2.4 million rolls of microfilm that now reside in the church's Granite Mountain near the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon, Anderson said."

"As a result of the "affiliate arrangement," Anderson said will "have all the indexes for everything. You can think of it more or less like a Google — you go there to find the source of information you're looking for. Sometimes we're the source, and sometimes a third party is the source."

Read the whole article to get the full gist of this LDS Records Access program.

I think that it is extremely well thought out and will continue for a very long time. I especially like that they will work with small and large companies and organizations to digitize and index holdings. I can see genealogy and historical societies having the following digitized:

1) Pedigree charts or family group sheets

2) "Vertical files" submitted for safe-keeping by members or estates - these can hold absolutely unique records like family Bible pages, journals, letters, etc.

3) Newsletters or periodicals. Many societies publish local records in paper format, which end up in personal libraries or library shelves (or locked local history rooms).

There may be copyright issues with some of these records. That will have to be worked out between the record holders and the society.

And the absolute best part of all of this activity by the LDS church is that access to the indexes and the digital images will be FREE.

1 comment:

Becky Wiseman said...

Randy, in the last sentence you stated "And the absolute best part of all of this activity by the LDS church is that access to the indexes and the digital images will be FREE."

I hate to say this, but that MAY not be a completely true statement. The indexes will probably be free and the images may be free at Family History Centers but the article also states, in the 6th paragraph: "The church is forming agreements with organizations to help film or digitally image their collections, which can be posted on an organization's Web site, as well as on In some cases, FamilySearch will simply provide a link to a specific organization's Web site, where a small fee for access will be charged to view the records." and a bit further down "While some Web sites may eventually use their information as a money-making enterprise, as commercial family history companies now do, Anderson said the church is not charging partners to help them make their records available."

So, it looks to me like it could be up to the archive providing the documents as to whether or not there will be a fee to access the images online. Even so, what FamilySearch and the LDS church is proposing is absolutely fantastic. The resources they can put behind a project of this magnitude is amazing. It will be interesting to see how it all actually plays out! Definitely exciting and something to look forward to!!