Genealogy from the perspective of a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon, LDS)

Thursday, August 31, 2017

The Reality of the Microfilm Issue
Microfilm has been a part of my life for many, many years. However, I am not one to grieve over changes in technology. Since the announcement by FamilySearch about the discontinuance of microfilm shipments to the Family History Centers around the world, I have been ordering and viewing more microfilm than I usually do. The very recent announcement of the one week or so extension to the cutoff date did not surprise me much. For the past month, after the announcement, I have been asking those attending my classes and presentations about their use of microfilm. I have found only a very small number of people who have used microfilm in the last year.

Apparently, people like me who are involved in doing research that entails little-used records are rare. The most important part of the press release of August 30, 2017 is the statement that all of the microfilm rented by patrons in the past five years have now been digitized by FamilySearch – over 1.5 million microfilms or about 1.5 billion images. The next statement is also equally as important: the remaining microfilms are being digitally scanned at a rate of 1000 films per day and are projected to be complete by 2020. If you think about these statements, you will realize that FamilySearch waited to make its announcement until the impact would be minimal.

For me personally, it will probably mean that I will take a few more trips to Salt Lake City, Utah to the Family History Library. But those trips were inevitable anyway because of the need to look at "restricted" records.

What I am also finding is that few people, even those who should know better, know how to access all of the digitized images. For that reason, I made two videos which are now posted on the Brigham Young University Family History Library YouTube channel. Here are the links to those videos:

No more microfilm rentals? Where do I go to see the digital copies? - James Tanner

Where are the Digitized Records on - James Tanner

These two videos summarize the present situation regarding the availability of microfilm and the images that are being digitized and uploaded to the website. Now to the question of those who are researching areas that they believe will never be digitized. My experience so far is that many of the microfilms that they believe will never be digitized have already been digitized. But for those films that are relatively obscure and have not been ordered in the past five years, FamilySearch has announced that after film ordering ends, if customers need access to a particular film yet to be digitized, they can express interest to have it added to the priority digitization list by contacting FamilySearch support. Here are the contact links:

FamilySearch Support (Toll Free: 1-866-406-1830).

As far as I'm concerned, but pretty much answers any questions that I have.

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