For a while now, I have been watching the numbers of digitized books grow rapidly in the FamilySearch.org Books collection. As I write this post, there are 243,583 digitized books in the free online collection. I have seen this go up over 2,000 books in the last week or so. Here are the numbers according to the language of the books:
This huge collection does not have a very complex or sophisticated search function. Here is a screenshot of the "Advanced Search."
In this case, since the books are digitized, the search function is searching every word in every book. So if I do a search for my Great-grandfather, "Henry Martin Tanner" (including the quotation marks to search for just that term), I will find every book that has his name. Here is a screenshot of the search:
The program found six books containing information about my Great-grandfather. If I click on the first book, I get a downloaded copy of the entire book. You may have to wait a while, depending on the speed of your Internet connection.
This book can now be saved off onto my own computer as a PDF file and then searched or read at my leisure (that is, of course, assuming that I have any leisure). Some books are restricted because of licensing or copyright considerations. These books show a notice that looks like this:
This means what it says, there are limitations on the availability of the book and it must be read in a library, either the Family History Library, a Family History Center or other participating library. By the way, some people have commented that this notice comes up frequently and they do not use the collection. That is their loss. Most of the books are freely and immediately available.
These books come from a long list of libraries. Here is the list.
- Allen County Public Library
- Brigham Young University Harold B. Lee Library
- Brigham Young University Idaho David O. McKay Library
- Brigham Young University Hawaii Joseph F. Smith Library
- Church History Library
- Family History Library
- Houston Public Library - Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research
- Mid-Continent Public Library - Midwest Genealogy Center
- Historical Society of Pennsylvania
- Onondaga County Public Library
- University of Florida, George A. Smathers Libraries
In the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, as the books are digitized they are being removed from the open shelves to make way for other books that have not be available or to make room for other uses of the Library.
You can also find the books through the FamilySearch Catalog. Here is a screenshot of the Catalog search:
I am searching again for my Great-grandfather in the title of a book. Here are the results:
You may want to search both in the catalog and in the Books section of the website since the Books search searches the contents of the books also.
It is a good idea to search for the names and all the variations of the names of all of those people you are searching for.
The FamilySearch.org website indicates that the Family History Library has around 356,000 books although this number may be out-of-date. If this number is correct then it should not take too long for all the books to be digitized. All of the books are being digitized, not just those that are out-of-copyright. The copyrighted books can be "checked out" digitally for use in the Library, hence the restrictions.
You may want to start searching the digital books collection regularly for additional entries.