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Microfilm with many items should have the items numbered or in order.

Today I came to the FHC to look at a microfilm I had ordered. When I had ordered it, I noted that it was the 29th item on the roll. This roll does not have numbers indicating new items on the roll, so I came to the online FHL catalog to look at the film number and see the contents of the roll. Imagine my dismay when I realized that the items on the roll were alphabetized! There was no way to get help with "am I nearly there!" I liked the old catalog better, but when I tried to go to that version, it was unavailable. Oh well. Eventually I got to the part of the microfilm I wanted to see. Please list the items in order that they appear on the roll or cite the number of the order that they are in - makes it easier to get there without reading every new item. Thank you!
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  • Diana,

    Do you still have the identifying information about that roll of microfilm, either in hard copy or online?

    -R
    • Would be pleased if you could add further comments, Robert, now that you have an example to check.
    • Paul,

      I really appreciate the examples. I now understand the request more clearly and why it is needed. This is an enhancement that we can make and I have it scheduled for a near future engineering cycle. I can't predict when we will have it delivered to users, but I don't think it will too far out in the future.

      Thanks for raising it as a need. We are working to add all essential features to the new catalog so that we can, sometime in the near future, ask users to switch to the new catalog and prepare to shut down the old one.

      Prior to that time I am very interested in making sure the new one exceeds the functionality of the old one. If you have any other things that you notice need to be fixed/added in the new catalog please start new GetSat threads for each (that will help us explore and comment on each request). Perhaps prefixing the title of the posts with "Catalog:" would help us find the threads.

      -Robert
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  • Diana is right. The problem is general, so no specific microfilm numbers have to be quoted, Robert. However, I have shown one below.

    My advice would always be to refer to the previous version of the catalog. I hope this option will continue to remain available, because the breakdown of a microfilm's contents (including item numbers) is pretty poor in the current version of the catalog.

    The links given below relate to the previous and current versions of the catalog relating to film number 1526788. Admittedly, by clicking on the link for each parish, an item number can be found in the new version. However, this has to be done 15 times to get a full listing of the item numbers for each parish, as the list given is not in any order! In the previous version the 16 parishes are listed, in item number order, on one page. In this respect, the current version is very much inferior, so needs an enhancement to bring it up to standard.

    https://familysearch.org/eng/library/...

    https://familysearch.org/search/catal...
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  • An excellent example! Yes, the item number not only helps us locate information on the microfilm -- that's one reason item numbers and special header frames were inserted when the microfilms were produced -- but they also help us understand the likely relationships between the items, something about the logical order of related "items".

    Item numbers are important not only for navigating on microfilms, they are also important when those same microfilms are digitized and packaged into Historical Record Collections. The standard we want to see is "one microfilm item, one image group", and we want the image groups to be listed in a logical order, not reshuffled by alphabetical order or in some other way that hides the relationships between them.

    Instead, we find collections where some microfilms containing multiple items have been dumped into a single image group, labeled in such a way that we have little clue about the contents, and other microfilms where "items" have been divided and/or rearranged in various ways. When this happens, plan on several hours of preliminary work just to figure out where the section you need has been hidden. I learned the hard way how difficult this can be -- 6 hours to untangle the images of the church records of a small parish in the canton of Bern, Switzerland, using every trick I could think of from my decades of experience in genealogy, mathematics, and data processing. Indexes had been separated from the sections they referenced, and in one case part of an index was attached to a different section. Some "items" had been split, some had been combined, and frequently the way-point labels were incorrect or misleading. I knew from the catalogue what the "items" should be. Without that information, I doubt I would ever have located all the pieces, since they were so well hidden in the image groups!

    If "one item, one image group" were the standard, and if the items were clearly listed in the new catalogue, it would be possible to link the catalogue items to the specific image groups in the Historical Record Collections. That would save an astonishing amount of time for everybody! Such a standard would make it very clear to the "engineers" what each image group should contain, and would give them a huge head start in creating an appropriate label. Genealogists would find a direct path from the catalogue to the image group, instead of having to wade through many levels of way-points. In a more perfect world, we could even have a link back to the catalogue from the image group, directly to the description of the microfilm "item".

    The FHL microfilms and the old FHL catalogue were the result of carefully reasoned "best practices", the result of many years of collective effort. In the rush to embrace the technology of the day, we risk losing the genealogical wisdom that we have inherited from generations of professionals and volunteers.
    • I want to state my agreement here. Often times once you actually view a section of the film you were looking for you will find reason to explore more of the "film collection". If the digitizing of the records removes some of the contextual relationships that the films provided this is a big loss.

      If the old catalog or even simply the film was organized with relationships within the records even though the record types may have been different it would be a shame to lose this data.

      I have a film on extended loan of "town records" where I found that some of the other records on the film held valuable information even though they were not "vital records" and came from different ledgers within the town archives. I would assume that the digitization of the film would separate these records into various collections based on the different indexing methods needed.

      It would be really good for the new catalog to make these relationships known through a "related collections" link or some such. It is invaluable information that is easily lost.
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