Friday, June 4, 2010

FamilySearch Beta Library Search - Works!

I whined one month ago, in FamilySearch Beta Library Search - FAIL, that the LDS Family History Library Catalog (FHLC) posted on the FamilySearch Beta site did not provide the book call number, or microfilm or microfiche numbers of the catalog items, and was therefore fairly useless, as then designed, to most researchers.

Dan Lawyer, of FamilySearch Labs, quickly responded, saying "The shortcomings you've identified are in the plan but just not finished yet."

I am very happy to report that the book call numbers and the microfilm and microfiche numbers are now listed in the Library Catalog on the FamilySearch Beta site. Let's walk through some of the screens to get there:

1) On the main FamilySearch Beta site (, there are links to Home, Learn, Library, Indexing and Blog in the top menu, and links to Historical Records, Trees, Library Catalog and All collections in the menu below "Discover Your Ancestors" in the screen below:

2) I clicked on "Library Catalog" and saw this search form:

In the form above, I chose "Last Name" from the dropdown list for "Search," and put "Seaver" in the search field.

3. The search results looked like this:

There were 423 matches for the search term. I didn't check all of them, but it looks like the matches cover alternate spellings, perhaps via a Soundex match and plurals. There is an "Exact match" box in the Search area if you want only exact matches.

There is a list of Topics, Languages and Availability on the left sidebar in the screen above, which shows how many matches are in each topic, language and availability (e.g., Digital Images, Family History Centers, Family History Library).

4. I clicked on the third item on the search match list above, and saw (two screens):

The entry for this particular resource includes information about the item, including the title, publication information, notes, subject, film notes and about this record. The Microfiche number of this resource is included.

5. What about place searches? I did a place search for "Jefferson, New York" and received 168 matches:

That was too many to search through screen-by-screen, so I clicked on the "Court, Land, Wills and Financial" category, which had only 24 entries.

5. One of those entries was of particular interest, the Estate papers, 1805-1945, so I clicked on it and saw (two screens):

This record was quite long, because there were 278 microfilm reels listed. Again, the microfilm numbers are listed, exactly the same as on the "classic" Family History Library Catalog entries.

6. I wanted to print out some of this record. When I went to File > Print Preview, I received 12 pages to print. The first page looked like this:

When I printed out this page, the print was very small (maybe font 6 or 8?) and relatively faint. This is a far cry from the text printout on the "classic" FHL Catalog page which is a larger font, darker print, and without spaces between entries. Many researchers print these out at home and take them to the FHC to order films, or take them to the FHL to find films in the drawers.

I really appreciate that the FHL Catalog on the FamilySearch Beta now provides the card catalog number and the microfilm/microfiche numbers for the entries. This makes the FHL Catalog on the FamilySearch Beta site almost as useful as the classic FHL Catalog site. Perhaps the printing issue will be addressed at some point in the future.


M. Diane Rogers said...

The place name search doesn't seem to prompt when there is more than one location with that name either as the current one does. This could be a problem for some.

Robert Kehrer said...

I'm the product mgr for the FamilySearch beta. Thanks for trying out our product and I'm glad you like the changes. Your suggestions and those of other users, like Diane, are very helpful as we map out refinements to be added in coming months.
-Robert Kehrer