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Please keep the microfilm in the FHL

A big advantage to researching in the FHL is being able to use the microfilm, quickly find the volume and page without guessing the image numbers multiple times, enhance the images on the wonderful scanner/printers for better legibility, and choose the size of paper on which to print. Computers are great for accessing records for those who live away from the FHL, but I really hope the microfilms stay available for those of us who do serious research in original records. Please keep the microfilms available for research! The FHL is a treasure because of them.
Raquel Lindaas
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  • Out of curiosity, do you feel that way about records that have also been indexed, like the censuses, or would you be okay with those microfilms going away?
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    • And the other plus to indexing an index is that one person can index a hundred names in just a few minutes.
    • That is a great idea for court records since they are a mess to research. Unfortunately it does not work for parish records since less than 10% have an index. Let's see what the future will bring.
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  • Thank you for your reply. The censuses (1880 and later) aren't much good without the indexes (Soundex). The censuses on Ancestry.com are good but not perfect. The digitization sometimes omits pages or some pages are illegible. These are often much clearer on microfilm, and can be enhanced with the scanner/printer capabilities such as the spot-edit feature. The digitization of censuses by Ancestry. com did not consider poor quality originals. They obviously ran them through rapidly without adjustments. Another problem is the indexing, which is mostly good but with occasional errors. And when we have to find a residence at a particular address in the later censuses, in the absence of good indexing online, the Soundex is vital. These scenarios may seem rare, but they do occur and are crucial to solving difficult family links. The people who use these features day in and day out know their value and rue their removal. This type of research is often time-sensitive, and waiting days for the films to come from the vault is not helpful. All microfilmed records are a huge tool in solving difficult genealogy problems. Having them taken away feels obstructionist to the mission of family history research.
    Raquel
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  • Maybe a better approach would be to place digitized microfilm that are online in the vault and make them available upon request. If someone wants to look at an original microfilm rather than looking at the online images, then that person could request the film from the vault (as is currently the practice with less-frequently-requested microfilm).
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  • Why do they need to move the films out of the library? What are they planning to do with that space? There are more than enough computers now. The 3rd floor seldom gets to 50% capacity at the computers. Why not leave the better quality images in the library so that people can access them without waiting 1-3 days for the film to come from the vault? That is very inconvenient. Frequent researchers love the microfilm and the scanner/printers that can enhance illegible old documents on film. I looked at 8 films just today, and it would be so frustrating if I had to order them from the vault and come back another day. It's a time consideration as well as a train-of-thought one.
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  • Raquel makes valid points that I whole-heartedly agree with. I find it VERY frustrating and time consuming to try to find ANYTHING in the images online. It is somewhat easier if the image has been indexed. With those that are not indexed, it takes an unbelievably long time to load each page, scan through it, and then go on to the next page - especially when in order to read the page, you have to greatly increase the magnification then move the viewer all over it to see it. Reading the same page on microfilm, I can usually get the entire page onto the reader at once and scroll through it very quickly. PLEASE do not remove the films from the library and/or go all digital. In some cases it is ok, but in many cases the film is just easier to use.
    Thank you.
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  • I agree with Raquel. Microfilms are soooo much more convenient to research than images on a computer screen. Also, the image compression preceding the storage removes most of the grey-shades on images which makes parts of it quite often illegible.
    Another reason for me to prefer the microfilm is that the image number does not state the year nor the page number. If something like this could be added to searchable metadata, the research of images would be much more convenient.
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  • Personally, I love scanning through the online images as long as they are waypointed well and there is a logical order to the film. I can find what I want with about ten guesses. So even though I work in the Family History Library, I avoid microfilm as much as possible. The only downside is that my right arm doesn't get the same workout online when the image I want is near the end of a film.
    • Randy is right that in most cases it is easier to use the online images to find the records you are looking for (at least in cases where the digitized microfilm is in chronological order or there are good waypoints). I find the quality of the online images to be about as good as the microfilm. As long as FS is able to maintain reasonable download speeds and not have overloaded servers (which has been a perennial problem with FS), then searching digital images is faster than looking through the microfilm.

      I also save a trip to the FHC.
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