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I’m hopeful that this will find support

Use the catalog to request a digital collection or part of a collection.

If a records collection has been microfilmed but not yet digitized, patrons may request that a microfilm copy be made and sent to a requested remote FamilySearch center, after paying a small fee (about $20.00/reel).
I propose that this process be replaced by digitization. Each requested reel would be digitized (for the same nominal fee) and added to the historical records collection as part of what would be a growing segment of a full collection. The one who placed the order would be notified and provided with the URL. It would be browse-able until the entire collection is digitized and indexed. And, as a browse-able unit (1) it could be made available at least as quickly as the time it takes to make and ship a reel of microfilm, (2) it would then be available for others to discover in the catalog and use immediately online, 24/7 and without traveling to a FamilySearch center, and (3) navigation and image enhancement tools in Records Search are better than using microfilm. In short, the user experience would be no worse, and in most cases much better, than using the film.
This approach responds to each user’s immediate needs in a way that builds the digital historical records collections for everyone.
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  • A roll of microfilm can be copied as microfilm in less than an hour including all processing time.

    Digitizing, reviewing and uploading would take much longer than that, all quite labor-intensive.

    For many, looking at microfilm is much easier than looking at uploaded digital images. It is much quicker to browse through microfilm, particularly for those with slow home internet connections.
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    • I think they are digitizing as fast as they can. Your suggestion may help in prioritization of the digitizing however. Users could add a request to have the record digitized and it would help set some priorities.
    • Hello Cristopher, thank you for the information. Do you know where should I add a request? For instance, I need the Coruripe, Alagoas, Brazil - Baptism and Marriage, I believe is 2 rolls of microfilm.
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  • Digitizing the microfilms that customers want is an excellent idea. I like business models where customers vote with their feet, or their mice. At the same time, there can be serious legal obstacles because of copyright issues. The best thing that could be done would be to support a sensible legal framework for copyright, both nationally and internationally. But big money and a little cartoon character will always stand in the way of that, so we are left with half measures. In spite of that, however, a list of the 1000 Most-Wanted Microfilms would still be a useful guide for pursuing the appropriate digital rights and for digitizing any microfilms for which the rights have been established. (Notice that we don't need a separate system to solicit nominations for what should be digitized, we simply need to keep track of what microfilms are most frequently requested.) Please harness the intelligence of the customer base, to make FamilySearch a better research tool!
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  • RealMac,
    Thanks for your thoughts. I admit that the IP rights issue is a real one that must be addressed. FamilySearch is renegotiating contracts with partners to allow what has been microfilmed to be digitized. I grant that, given that complexity, my idea may not be workable.

    I thank you for improving on the idea. Mining the microfilm circulation data to identify the most requested collections could help focus rights negotiation on the highest priorities.

    I wonder, however, if a review of existing contracts could identify collections that do not need to be renegotiated (such as US government records). Couldn't they be flagged as candidates for digitization on request?
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  • One main problem I've found is that FamilySearch policy opposes a "What's coming next" item - which could quite easily become a regular feature in the Blog section.

    For example, I know that Durham University has given the go-ahead for their Diocese of Durham probate records to be digitized and put online in FamilySearch (around three years ago) but can't find out if / when the images will ever appear. Similarly, even under the proposed suggestion, there would be no way of finding out how many weeks, months or years it would take for images from a specific microfilm to appear online, due to the way that FamilySearch chooses to withhold certain details from its patrons.
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  • I don't work in the collection, but I also know that digitization also depends on the contracts FamilySearch has signed with archives. So any such process would have to first check if the contract allows for digitization. Also, there is a team that works on prioritization for digitization. Ideally, if everyone "voted" for what was to be digitized next, it would mirror the current prioritization.
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  • In the absence of evidence to the contrary, I don't believe FamilySearch knows what's coming next. Especially for digital collections from sources other than the microfilms already on site, bureaucratic complications are apparently severe enough to thwart any proposed schedule. Thus, it is probably better not to promise delivery, ever.
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  • I like the idea and would even pay more to have one digitized rather than the fee for sending it to a local location. The reason is I still have drive to a location, print or copy what I found so there are other costs. Plus later I may find I overlooked another family member on the same roll. This year at Rootstech we are going early to use the library and about a quarter of what we are looking up on microfilm are repeat visits to the same film with another family name.
    Because the quality of digitizing is not always the best, I like keeping both options as suggested by another contributor.
    Who knows what the future may bring, but having multiple access available gives opportunities for things not yet in the marketplace. One of the genealogy society I belong to digitized all of their quarterlies and that is wonderful from having to look at paper copies (Forsyth county NC); another in Belleville Illinois has digitized the microfilm of newspapers from donated funds, and I contributed for more to be done.
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  • I like this idea! I would definitely pay to have some registers digitalized. I'm in a location in Brazil far away from any Family Center to use the microfilm loan service, and it's very frustrating not knowing when or if they will ever be digitalized. I Hope to see some progress on this.
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  • Sometimes I think about the concept of microfilm vs digital photos. I was learning in my land surveying class, that depending on the accuracies needed for aerial photogrammetry, old fashion film works best. Actually the film in the aerial camera is 9”x9”. Most important is that pixelation on film is at a molecular level. While pixelation for digital cameras is at whatever pixels. Actually it is impossible for digital cameras to have the detail of pixelation that film has. So it will be a worthwhile debate when deciding what to do with the microfilm in Granite Mountain; digitize and throw away or carve more vault space?

    As for those who roll their eyes at my reflective thoughts, I’ll tell you this. When they first started the GPS constellation, all they needed was 6 satellites, simply to roughly guide missiles. Now they need 24 and they are still adding more. This has resulted in GPS guided land surveying being the most accurate down to the millimeter. Because of more GPS satellites, they now know the center of earth’s mass down to centimeters.
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  • Taylor,
    Thanks for your thoughtful reply. I agree that microfilm is, at present, the most reliable, time-tested preservation method. I hope no one infers from my original post on this topic that I think the microfilm reels should be recycled for their silver content after they are digitized. Knowing what I know about the GMRV, I think I can say with assurance that that is not the plan.

    But that being said, I still believe that a digital version of the film is superior for use. It is easier to distribute to more people and may be used without having a microfilm reader. Admittedly, digital distribution could be improved by better navigation and faster page turning within the collection; it could be more like quickly advancing through a reel of film. And it could be improved through more thoughtful and useful way-points (as FamilySearch calls them - we archivists call them finding aids). But all that will come
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