Wednesday, August 16, 2017

FamilySearch Digital Microfilm Update

During this week's Mondays With Myrt Hangout on Air, Diane Loosle, the Director of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, discussed the current status of the digitization of FHL microfilms.  Some of my takeaways:

*  Digitization is restricted by the contractual agreements that the FHL has with the record repositories.  Some contracts do not permit digitizing, others do but restrict access to the FHL or FSLs, and others permit digital records to be presented on online websites such as FamilySearch.

*  About 25% of the digitized collections will be available only at the Family History Library or local FamilySearch Libraries or Centers because of contractual requirements.

*  They probably will not digitize duplicate record sets - some records are on more than one microfilm set, and they will pick one.

*  Digitization is prioritized by the microfilms ordered in the last five years.  These should be digitized by 2020.

*  Less than 11% of the FHL digital microfilm collection is indexed, so it is important that users learn how to browse the record collections.

*  Urgent requests can be made - stay tuned after 1 September for more information.

*  They are digitizing about 1,000 films a day.  That's amazing, but they have only about 1200 days before the end of 2020, right?

*  They will keep the existing microfilm at the Family History Library. The permanent rental at local FSLs or FSCs can be retained by the local management if desired.

*  Many record sets already digitized are on the FamilySearch Record Collection List.  However, there are many record sets partially digitized that are not on the list.

*  Users can check the status of a specific record set or microfilm by checking in the FamilySearch Catalog.

I will work through the FamilySearch Catalog search process below, in case readers want to review and use the process:

1)  On the FamilySearch Catalog page, I entered "Hilperton" in the search field and selected "England, Wiltshire, Hilperton" from the dropdown menu:

2)  I clicked on the blue "Search" button on the screen above, and saw the list of record types for Hilperton:

3)  When I click on any of the items on the list above, the list expands to show all record sets for that record type.  I clicked on the "England, Wiltshire, Hilperton - Church records (3)" item and saw the three record sets for that record type:

4)  I wanted to see the "Bishop's transcripts for Hilperton, 1622-1880."  I clicked on it, and after signing into FamilySearch, saw the information about the specific record set:

Down at the bottom of the screen above is the Film Notes, including the film number (in this case Film 1279404 items 11-16).  If I was at the FHL, I would go find that film, put it on the microfilm reader, and crank until I found Item 11 for the Hilperton records.

On the far right of the Film Notes information on the screen above, there are two icons under "Format."  The magnifying glass icon is for "Search the Index."  The second icon may be a "film roll" icon or a "camera" icon.  If it's a "film roll" icon, then you have to view the microfilm at the FHL (after 1 September).  If it's a "camera" icon, then it is digitized and available online.

5)  When I click on the "Camera" icon, the set of digitized images opens, as shown below:

There are 2324 images in this "digital microfilm" - but the popup window tells me I have to go to a Family History Center to review it.  Drat - but at least I don't have to travel to SLC, I can see this record set in my local FamilySearch Center on their computer systems and save page images to my flash drive..

I haven't checked for the digitizing status of my "target" microfilms - the ones I have on my "to-do" list when I go each year to the Family History Library.  I will go through my to-do list and summarize the "target" record sets I'm interested in in another post.


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Unknown said...

Randy, thank you so much for this information. I am running out of on-line sources for some of my family — and, at 90, I am also running out of stamina (and perhaps time), so this information is important to me.

David said...

The icon system for the digital images is completely inadequate. They distinguish between images that are only on partner sites and those that are available in some form on Familysearch. However there is a massive, massive difference between those collections available generally and those only available in the Family History Centre. An icon system needs to be put in place which shows those generally available as well as those that are only available in an FHC (useless to me for example as I don't have an FHC anywhere nearby that is convenient).

By the same token they also need to update the icon system that shows whether a record is attached or not. It is an improvement over not showing the information at all which is what was in place before. However they also need to distinguish between records attached to the being searched for (say by clicking their Familysearch link on the person page) and others in the tree. That way it would be possible to check whether a duplicate exists or whether someone has made a bone-headed attachment to completely the wrong person (showing a complete lack of historical knowledge, geographical knowledge or even a complete lack of both).