If each of the billion records consisted of a page of text approximately 8 1/2 x 11, laid end to end, they would stretch roughly 189,000 miles of paper. Think about it every single one of those one billion records has had to be handled by a person and scanned or photographed into the collections on FamilySearch.org. If you looked at each record for 1 second, it would take you approximately 277,777 hours to look at the records or almost 32 years. Good luck in trying.
One billion is a really large number but the significance of this is that progress is being made every day in digitizing the 2.4 million rolls of microfilm in the Granite Vault and other records being digitized by missionaries are also contributing to this huge number of images. A billion records also means billions of names of people that lived and died (or are still living).
Quoting from the blog post announcing the milestone:
FamilySearch International (FamilySearch.org) announced today the online publication of its one billionth image of historic records at FamilySearch.org, a feat that took just 7 years to accomplish. If you don’t have the time or means to travel where your ancestors walked, perhaps you can begin unveiling their fascinating lives through the tidal waves of new online historic records that can recount the stories of their lives. The billionth image was published in FamilySearch.org’s growing Peru civil registration collections.
“Although a few social sites like Flickr and Facebook can boast over a billion photos contributed by users, there is no site like FamilySearch.org that has published over 1 billion images of historic records online,” remarked Rod DeGiulio, director, FamilySearch Records Division. “And a single digital image can have several historic records on it—which means there are actually billions of records in our browse image collections online for people to discover and volunteers to index.”Tragedy of this situation is that there are so many members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who could benefit from these records and who are almost totally oblivious to their existence. I was talking to a person on Sunday who mentioned that he was from Denmark. He said his family had "done all the work" I thought, oh not again. Here we go with someone who hasn't even looked at his family history. I continued the conversation and yes, that was the case. His family had done all the research "years ago" and of course, there was nothing left to do. I suggested that FamilySearch and other websites had added millions of records that were not generally available to researchers years ago, but the statement fell on deaf ears.
I enjoyed the brief history of digitization in the post. Here is another quote:
FamilySearch started preserving and providing access to the world’s historical records for genealogy purposes in 1938 using microfilm and distributing copies of the film through its global network of 4,600 local FamilySearch centers. In 2007, it made the shift to digital preservation and access technology and began publishing its massive historic records collections online.
It took 58 years to publish the first two billion images of historic records on microfilm—which was limited to patrons of its local FamilySearch centers and affiliate public libraries. In the past 7 years, it has been able to publish one billion images at FamilySearch.org, which expands access to anyone, anywhere, with Internet access. DeGiulio projects the next billion images should take about 3 to 5 years to publish.
70% of the online images currently come from FamilySearch’s initiative to digitally convert its huge microfilm collection for online access. 25% comes from new camera operations—275 camera teams digitally imaging new historic records in 45 countries that have never seen the light of day or the Internet. And 5% come from agreements with partnering organizations.
Currently, FamilySearch publishes about 200 million images of historic records online each year (averaging about 500,000 per day) making the vast majority of them accessible for the first time to more people from anywhere in the world.
It also means more historic records are being preserved and protected against future damage and loss, and the speed at which they are being made available online for research is rapidly increasing. For example, it took 18 months on average for FamilySearch to make a historic document available to the public using microfilm. With the new digital technology, a camera team digitally captures the image from its current resting place in some archive somewhere in the world today, and in just 2 to 4 weeks, it can be accessible online for the first time. It’s a new dawn for historic records preservation and access.This should be a wake up call for all those who think their genealogy is "all done" and for my part, I will do everything I can to help, teach, and implore them to make the effort.