Tuesday, July 29, 2008

More on FamilySearch Indexing and Image Access

I commented last week about the FamilySearch announcement about sharing indexes and images with Ancestry.com.

FamilySearch today sent out a press release (I'm not on their list, unfortunately) that said:

"The recent announcements of joint census projects with FamilySearch and affiliate companies, such as findmypast.org and Ancestry.com, have caused some confusion. FamilySearch patrons and indexing volunteers are wondering if the indexes created from their efforts will continue to be free to the public. The answer is a resounding YES!

"All data indexed by FamilySearch volunteers will continue to be made available for free to the public through FamilySearch.org — now and in the future. Access to related digital images may not always be free to everyone. Working jointly with other organizations ensures wider availability to improved indexes and provides a tremendous benefit to millions of people around the world who are seeking to connect with their ancestors. FamilySearch is committed to working with records custodians around the world to provide faster access to more records for more people.

"Where possible, FamilySearch will seek to provide free public access to digital images of original records. Due to affiliate obligations, free access to some images may be available only to FamilySearch members (volunteers and indexers who meet basic contribution requirements each quarter, patrons at Family History Centers, and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who’s contributions support FamilySearch’s operations).

"FamilySearch members will also enjoy convenient access in their homes or wherever they have Internet access. (FamilySearch is currently developing its ability to verify that users are FamilySearch members for future home access. This expanded access should be enabled in 2009.)

"The general public will have several options to access any fee-based images offered under FamilySearch affiliate agreements.

1) Home access will be free for FamilySearch members;
2) access is free through a local Family History Center or the Family History Library;
3) access is often free through the record custodian or archive reading room; or
4) for a nominal fee, the public can access the images on specified record custodian or commercial Web sites."

Read that very carefully. It is a clarification of the previous announcement. Here are my immediate thoughts:

* The upshot is what I thought it would be - the FamilySearch indexes will be available to all researchers wherever they are, but some image collections (including some of the US Federal census records and the England/Wales census records) will not be available for at-home viewing at http://www.familysearch.org/ unless the researcher has access to the subscription sites, or qualifies as a FamilySearch member.

* The new information in the announcement is that FamilySearch "members" (the above release indicates that non-LDS volunteers can qualify for at-home access) will have access to the indexes and the images.

* It's pretty explicitly stated that access for any researcher will be available at LDS Family History Centers and record custodian sites (e.g., National Archives). That is still the best news for most researchers who won't or can't subscribe to subscription sites.

1 comment: