FamilySearch Microfilm Discontinuation Starting September 1, 2017; Major Change Coming Real Soon; Not Unexpected

Hi Everyone!

Just received some major info from one of my colleagues plus now seeing much buzz on the Internet.

FamilySearch will shortly stop distributing microfilms.  Microfilm distribution will cease as of September 1, 2017.

Here is a link to the full announcement from FamilySearch on this rather blockbuster news item:

Family History Microfilm Discontinuation Announcement

We all new this was coming down the road as transitioning to digital imaging was taking over.  I urge you to read the full announcement in the above link.

I have my own questions for which I do not think there are answers or I simply do not understand the transition process.

The announcement suggests 1.5 million microfilms have been digitized.  This is good!  But what I don’t understand is that if they have been digitized would it not imply that I should be able to look at images from the Polish villages of my ancestors online today?  If they are digitized where are the images?  If I look at FamilySearch and click on the map of Europe and then select Poland, I find the equivalent of only 8 databases of Polish information that can both be searched and browsed, 5 that are searchable and 3 that are browseable.

So where is the equivalent of Film #xyz for the Polish village of Wawelno for which I accessed in the past the old-fashioned way using a microfilm reader?  I don’t know.  It is not in the 8 databases for Polish information I can search through at FamilySearch today.

The announcement suggests much will still be completed between September 1, 2017 and 2020 to get all data online.  Will my Polish village of Wawelno be completely unavailable between September 1, 2017 and 2020 while it is being worked on for online uploading?  Will there be a massive data dump of digitized material sometime shortly after September 1, 2017 when the images of the records of the Wawelno past microfilm might appear online as images shortly after September 1, 2017?

I guess it is just too early to know what we will see online after September 1, 2017.  But I do know there are only the equivalent of 8 Polish database files today that are on FamilySearch today.    The worst scenario is that although the data exists in microfilm format today it could go on a “vacation” for an almost 3 year period while it is being converted to online images that can be viewed by me.  I would not have microfilm access nor would I have online digital image access until possibly as late as the end of 2020.

I don’t even care that the records may not be indexed.  Just looking at the images as if my monitor is a microfilm reader is all that I would want.

You will be able to order FamilySearch microfilms through August 31, 2017.  So, if you have been thinking about it you now have about 2 months left to order.  I get a sense there will be a massive “run” to do just that over the next 2 month period.

Maybe this announcement does not affect you at all if you have become an only “online data” researcher and have never ordered and used actual microfilm.

For me, it is just the unknown of what I am going to be able to access online after September 1, 2017, since that will really be my only choice.  Will I see images of my Wawelno Polish village records images?  Hope so.  Or will I have to be patient with the idea of seeing them sometime after September 1, 2017 and before January 1, 2021??

Read the full announcement and see where you fit into this blockbuster but expected news.

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

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