As new historical record collections are published under the latest agreements with FamilySearch’s affiliates, they will be available on FamilySearch.org and for free on Ancestry.com, findmypast.com, or MyHeritage.com to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. FamilySearch offers free public access to Ancestry.com and findmypast.com through 4,715 local FamilySearch-owned family history centers worldwide. Additional details regarding expanded records access will be announced sometime in 2014, when they are available.The question addressed by the post is what impact these agreements will have on the free access through the FamilySearch Center portal at all of the 4700+ Centers around the world. As the post states:
First, what does the announcement mean? The access you have to premium websites through the portal at your family history center will not be changing. All the collections you are accustomed to finding on FamilySearch will still be available.
When you access Ancestry.com, findmypast.com, and MyHeritage.com, you will begin seeing FamilySearch collections on their websites. Anyone who comes into your family history center will have full access to all of these websites and the many other websites available through the family history center portal.However, the members of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will have access to the three websites in their homes. The post explains this access as follows:
Member access will be very much like access for any other person with a paying subscription: through a login and password. To give online systems time to accommodate to increased traffic, not all members will receive access at the same time. There will be a gradual rollout. Some members of your wards and stakes may get their access information before other members. Please assure anyone who is concerned that they do not yet have access to the websites that their access will be granted in a timely manner.So what impact, if any, will this have on the traffic in the FamilySearch Centers? A lot of people do use those programs while at the FamilySearch Centers, but there are many other programs that will still be available only through the portal. I disagree with the assessment of the post on the FamilySearch blog, that this will affect the Centers adversely and cause a decline. In fact, my guess is that traffic will increase. Very, very few members of the Church are aware of either MyHeritage.com or findmypast.com. A few more are familiar with Ancestry.com. If the FamilySearch Centers are awake and using their imagination a little, they might realize that there will be an teaching opportunity to get people started with all three programs. I will guess that if I were to teach the three programs after the members get access that my classes would be full every single class period.
This is an opportunity for the Centers to expand their utility to more members of the Church. I hope they realize the opportunity and take advantage of it.