Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Microfilm Scanning at the FHL and FHC

Several readers have commented or emailed me about the Microfilm Reader/Scanner/Printer setup at the San Diego Family History Center based on my comments in Finally! A Research Day.

I wrote a summary of "what it is" and "how to do it" in 2007 - you can read it at Microfilm Scanning at the FHC. They're using the same machines two years later, but I don't have a photo of the machine. I'll try to take one next time i'm there.

I also described the similar setup at the Family History Library (in Salt Lake City) in my post Checking out the Family History Library - Post 2 in January 2009. There is a photo of the microfilm scanner machine, but it's not the same setup as at the San Diego FHC.

Besides being modern, essentially paperless and quicker, the best thing about these machines is that they don't cost much to use ($1 per hour at the San Diego FHC - I spent $2 yesterday getting 91 images). The biggest drawback is that you need a relatively large USB flash drive - the 91 images I captured yesterday took up about 400 megabytes of storage - 3 to 5 mb each as 300 dpi TIF files. But they come out looking pretty good if the film is readable.

When I get home with my flash drive, I upload the images into my computer and rename them, then transcribe them at my convenience. Transcribing right from the images saves me the ink and paper of printing the images out.

When I transcribe these scanned documents, I use the handy device of side-by-side windows - one window for the image (in my photo program) and one window for the transcription program (I did the one today using IE7 in Blogger). Here is a screen shot with Blogger open (this post) on the left and the Isaac Lanfear image on the right:

I also do this type of thing when I'm transcribing into my genealogy software by using a top-and-bottom arrangement of windows.


QuiltinLibraryLady said...

Reading your post made me happy to realize that we have equipment just a modern here at our little library in a town of less than 400 as the FHL has. We have a Canon reader/scanner that will print, save or e-mail the desired article through its companion computer. E-mailing straight from the microfilm is a really slick way of dealing with out of area requests from researchers

By the way the Lanphere name came up in a patron's research...actually that name has been haunting me popped up somewhere else too...just don't remember precisely where or why. Strange.There aren't any of them in either my or my husband's family tree.

Ginger Smith said...

Ohhhh we have one of these in our local Family History Library in Raleigh, NC as well and I love it! The only problem we have is that a lot of people use it to view instead of to scan and that takes away from time for others to use it. But everyone is real polite and we keep our usage down to a minimum of about every 30 minutes or so if someone is waiting. I wrote about one of my visits here

Eileen said...

I enjoyed reading this article and since I am a late-comer to reading blogs, I appreciate the fact that you provide links to past useful articles. Reading this reminded me that I discovered a great tool for transcribing. It is a software program (free for non-commerical use) that is designed specifically for that purpose. It allows you to display the image on top and type in the transcription below. In addition, it has many features that help make htis task easier. The website is It views many image types including TIFFs. It does not support, at this time, image PDFs. You can export the transcription, which is typed in Rich-Txt format, to Word, Text, Html, and others.


Diane Gould Hall said...

Randy. One of my goals this coming year is to make some trips to the FHC in Mission Vly. I haven't been there in a while and it's time to go. I will be sure to take my larger flash drives with me so I don't run out of space.
Thanks for the reminder.

Unknown said...

Well I just bought a new 256 !! GB !! thumb drive at Costco for only 39.99! Now I can never worry about having a large enough flash/ thumb drive to store images on!

brandburp said...
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