Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Trying to use GenSeek Application

The GenSeek website is supposed to be launched in October 2009, according to knowledgeable sources quoted back in the summertime. GenSeek is widely expected to be "Family History Library Catalog 2.0." I, along with others, have interpreted that to mean that it will have:

* the content of the current FHLC
* additional content from other repositories
* links to books or databases available online

I've used the GenSeek application on Facebook several times, and I've seen the content of the current FHLC (to some extent), and the links to FHLC items when they have been digitized (e.g., in the BYU Family History Archive).

What does the GenSeek application on Facebook look like? Here's a peek:

I wanted to check out Dodge County, Wisconsin resources, so I went to Facebook and clicked on the GenSeek application ( and then the "Search" tab:

On the "Location" field, I typed in "Dodge, Wisconsin." The results came back (two screens shown, four in all):

In the GenSeek application on Facebook, the results for a certain location appear all together, not separated into categories like on the Family History Library Catalog. I don't see any organization to these entries - they are not alphabetical, or by record type, or by publication date. It's just a list. This is terrible, IMHO - were librarians putting this together, or website designers?

There are only about 60 matches to my Search request for Dodge County, Wisconsin, so I can easily scan the list. What about a County with many documents in the FHLC, and many more in other repositories? It's too much to ask researchers to scan through hundreds or thousands of matches. A list of categories (like the FHLC) makes a lot of sense to me.

The record that caught my eye was the book or manuscript "Cemeteries and Churches of Dodge County, Wisconsin." I clicked on the link for it:

The resulting page shows me the information about this document, and provides the call number for the document at the Family History Library, and the fact that it is microfilmed.

There is a box on the right side that contains links for Comments, Add to Favorites, Get Citation, Share with Family, Share on Facebook. I clicked on the "Get Citation" link and saw:

The gray box provides the source citation for this record - it says:

"Turner, Clara M. (Clara Muriel Benson) , 1914-, "Cemeteries and churches of Dodge County, Wisconsin", , [originally published Turner, (c1974)] , , accessed on 30 September 2009 "

That's great - a decent online source citation. Of course, the citation does not include the actual document, only the source of the document.

Where is the microfilm number? That's what I usually use the FHLC for - to find the microfilm number so that I can order a document on film at my local Family History Center.

I can find no place in the GenSeek application on Facebook that lists the microfilm number. Am I missing something here? Isn't that one of the key points about using GenSeek? That it will be user friendly and provide information about the documents that it lists in repositories? Isn't the purpose of to be a "one-stop shop" for all things genealogical - documents, books, databases, etc., and to make it easy to find where they reside?

The only place that I could find the microfilm number of this book is in the Family History Library Catalog - it is US/CAN Film 982018 Item 6. This document is listed only under Church History in the FHLC, not under Cemeteries or Church Records (hmmm, the FHLC is imperfect too!).

We don't know - yet - if the "real" GenSeek will have some semblance of order to the requested documents and databases, or if it will contain the FHL microform numbers for the documents. To my thinking, GenSeek will be pretty useless without those two critical items.

1 comment:

Tamura Jones said...


You do realise that your criticism may just have added two items to their must-have to-do list,
thus delaying the release of the already considerably delayed even further...
Still, you are quite right that FamilyLink should make sure that GenSeek is at least as good as the FHLC.

- Tamura