By now all of you should have heard of the announcement by FamilySearch that effective September 1, 2017 they will no longer be providing microfilms upon request for your use at a Family History Center (FHC) or to a designated Family History Library Affiliate like a public library that is participating with FamilySearch.
If you have actively been submitting requests for microfilm data then this will dramatically affect you as of September 1, 2017. If you need to order any new microfilms from FamilySearch that have not yet been digitized you have got to get your requests in for processing NOW.
How do you know if it has been digitized?
You will need to search their catalog, generally by “place name” to find films of interest to you (e.g Wawelno, Bydgoszcz, Poland or Bloomingdale, DuPage, Illinois). You will look at the catalog entry for the film of interest, click on the links to get you to the most information, look on the right side of the screen where you will see your film number of interest. If an icon of a “camera” is next to the film number, this means the film is in digital format. If you see an icon of a “microfilm” this means the film has not yet been digitized and is still available to order as a microfilm before September 1, 2017.
FamilySearch believes that its conversion to digital media has been so successful that it feels comfortable to move forward to discontinue supplying microfilms as of September 1, 2017. Material that is currently in microfilm format that has been digitized will become accessible via the Family History Center. In other words, you previously ordered a microfilm and may have had it delivered to a local Family History Center or Affiliate for viewing by yourself. After September 1, 2017 you will no longer need to order a microfilm if it has already been digitized. You simply find the film number of interest to you in the FamilySearch online catalog of films and check to see if it has been digitized by seeing if you see an icon for a “camera”. If yes, and you click on the link for the film number, you may see a screen message that pops up noting that to view the film digitally you will need to go to a Family History Center.
These images are viewable:
These images are viewable:
So basically this is no different from what you were doing before needing to go to a Family History Center or Affiliate.
However, even with the great progress that has been made by FamilySearch to digitize the films, there will still be a targeted 3 year period until 2020 while FamilySearch finishes digitizing those films that have not yet been completed.
What does this truly mean for you?
It means that if you need a particular microfilm for viewing that has not yet been digitized (icon of a “microfilm”) and is not available for viewing online at a Family History Center, you can order it now before September 1, 2017 for delivery to a local Family History Center or Affiliate (like a library that is deemed as such e.g. Arlington Heights Memorial Library, Palatine Public Library, Algonquin Public Library and many more in our local area).
If you do not order it before September 1, 2017 then you may simply have to be patient over the next three years awaiting the conversion of that film to digital format for viewing online at a local Family History Center.
I actually found films of interest to me that I can view anywhere online without having to go to a Family History Center. These films are digital and there are no contractual restrictions for viewing from any location through FamilySearch.
I believe FamilySearch will simply transition films that are currently viewable digitally only in a Family History Center to having these films available for viewing through any device without having to go to a Family History Center where contractual obligations allow such viewing from anywhere.
There could still be many digital films that will not be viewable from any location other than a Family History Center.
If you are an “online only” researcher and don’t even know what a FamilySearch microfilm is then there is no affect on your research (just please don’t tell me you are an “only online” researcher!). You will still be doing your research through whatever subscriptions for online searching you have or free sites you use.
If you are a user of FamilySearch microfilms still, get your final orders in for microfilms before September 1, 2017.
If you are doing online research, make sure you use the FamilySearch online catalog (FamilySearch Online Catalog) to find locations of interest to you to see what they have available to you that you can still order as a microfilm, view digital data anywhere, or view digital data only through a local Family History Center (not an Affiliate).
Let us hope that much of what is noted for digital viewing today for a good amount of films only at a local Family History Center becomes more readily available for viewing anywhere and not tied in to a local Family History Center.
I will keep all of you informed as future developments occur regarding this major change in the world of FamilySearch microfilms.
Schaumburg Township District Library