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Where is the catalog?

Clicking "catalog" gives me this page
FamilySearch Catalog

Search the catalog of genealogical materials (including books, online materials, microfilm, microfiche, and publications) made available by FamilySearch. Many items can be loaned to local Family History Centers around the world.

It would really be helpful if that link went to the catalog so I could read through it and maybe find something to search. How can I ask for a specific title if I don't know what you have?
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  • t p,

    The catalog is accessed, similar to many other catalog systems, with an initial search. We allow you to jump into the catalog by searching with a place, surname, title, author name, subject, keyword, call number or film number.

    -Robert
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  • Wouldn't it be possible to put a tab for the catalog and have the list of collections come up? Then everyone could find it.
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  • Hi t p,

    Obviously I'm not Robert, but in my browser, there is a tab for the catalog under the heading, "Search." Snap below.



    P.S. I'm a FS catalog lover.
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  • And once I'm there, where do I find the list of collections?
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  • 1
    I wonder if t p is asking a different question than is being answered. Are you looking for the collections that have been digitized and/or indexed? If so, the catalog is not the place for that. To find those collections, click Search and scroll down. You will see Browse All Published Collections. Click that and you'll see all digitized collections organized alphabetically by title. You can narrow results by place; you can click the heading of the Records column to sort by size of the record; you can click the heading Last Updated to sort by most recent additions. And you can search by a collection name.
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    • Robert, you wrote "How do you envision researchers using a browse to do things that aren't possible with an initial search."

      Well, a browsable Library Catalog would be useful at such time as all of the microfilms are completely and correctly named. For example, the majority of estate items uploaded for Delaware County, NY concern Orphans Court proceedings, yet the Orphans Court is not mentioned in the microfilm titles. One series for Delaware County, NY has an index called _Proceedings Index 1797-1965_. This is not an index to Surrogate Court proceedings but is a Guardians Index to Proceedings. It is confusing that there is also a _Wills and Proceedings Index 1797-1973_ that is the major estate docket entries listing arranged by decedent.

      In the case of Delaware County, NY, many of the records books have not been uploaded, although they may exist in the Library. For the seeker, it is not at all clear from the uploaded-records waypoints list that some types of records referred to in the Proceedings Index 1797-1973 have not been uploaded at all. There is no cautionary note to this effect on the waypoint-list page.

      One detects these things by looking at the covers of the records books, whereon are titles that appear to have been largely disregarded by the persons creating the catalog entries.

      Once the Catalog items have been correctly retitled, a browsable Catalog should be principally arranged alphabetically, but excellently filterable by location, topic and date. I should be able to find Military, Virginia, 1811-1815 all at once in a boolean-type keyword search.

      One readily accessible model of a browsable card catalog is at Ancestry.com (in "Old Search" mode only). One can scroll through the principally alphabetical listing. One can use the alphabetic keys or keyword search to select any keyword and immediately get a scrollable list with that word in the title. One can try searching by collection title, but that does not work as well. The date filters also don't work with much precision since the programmers have elected to include databases that give birth-years in addition to dates associated with a particular *record*. If I am searching for Military, War of 1812, I do not want to have results listing Census enumerations that include persons born about 1812.

      Others may have ideas about how a browsable Library Catalog should work.

      Robert you also said, "The goal is that all published online collections should be in the catalog." There was extensive discussion in the now-defunct Forums about the problems with the "collections" that are aggregations of indexes from a variety of sources, some of which are specific Catalog items but many not. In some cases the Wiki descriptions of such collections give an idea of what their constituents are, but they do not indicate which might be listed in the catalog, and which not. For some, there are components with no source citation that were put into the IGI. These really need to be separated into their individual components.
    • Thanks Jade. I appreciate the info. The record teams have begin to break down some of the conglomerate collections into their individual parts. I expect that work will continue and will probably take significant time to complete with the most used collections being prioritized.
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  • Yes! That is what I'm asking. Thank you. Lots of clicking and scrolling. Hmmm. In this day and age you'd think it could be easier.
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  • t p,

    The All Published Collections page is built so that you do not have to do lots of clicking and scrolling.

    If you look over at the left sidebar you will notice that you can filter that very long list of all published by collection name, Place, Date range, Collection type, and even image availability. Simply employ any of those tools and the list will instantly be reduced to only those collections that match what you have indicated.

    If you have ideas on how this can be made easier I would very much appreciate the thoughts.

    -Robert
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  • 1
    This thread illustrates some difficulties with the jargon used by the FamilySearch organization. Jargon is the correct word in this context; look it up in the Wikipedia! In this case, the jargon is peculiar to FamilySearch, rather than to the discipline of genealogy. In effect, FamilySearch has created its own terminology, and that leads to communication problems.

    There is nothing to indicate what the "catalog" is a catalogue of. It is in fact the catalogue of the Family History Library and some affiliates. But how many users will ever discover the significance of the Family History Library and the unique services it offers by reading the FamilySearch.org web site? The story of the Family History Library is extremely well hidden!

    Likewise, it will not be clear to many people what a "collection" or even a "historical record collection" is.

    There is an art to presenting information over the internet in such a way that jargon is presented in close association with everyday language that provides a painless explanation for the terminology. Unfortunately, the main FamilySearch web pages don't make use of this art. There is almost no explanation of anything.

    Almost daily, I encounter genealogists who haven't figured out that only a small minority of the "collections" are indexed, how the "collections" relate to the microfilms, that the microfilms are still available for rental and are in many cases far easier to use than the "collections", how to use the catalogue, how to access the "collections", and so forth. Proof, if proof were needed, that the FamilySearch.org web site as presently configured doesn't do a very good job of guiding the uninformed genealogist.

    It does not help the naïve user, either, when he or she encounters what the latest jargon calls "known issues", such as collections that are so badly constructed that the contents don't correspond with the labels, and many other inexplicable oddities that have been discussed in this forum. In order for the user to understand the nature of these "issues", he or she would have to stumble onto the "known issues" section of a Wiki page specific to a collection, or notice a discussion of such an issue in this forum. How exactly would a user ever learn that such information exists, let alone where to find it? Those "known issues" seem never to be corrected. I'm convinced that most genealogists will find these "issues" extremely discouraging, reinforcing their initial reaction that the whole web site is impenetrable, incomprehensible, and too difficult to use. There was a time, some of us remember, when the site was welcoming and helpful.
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  • Thanks for that post. You are of course correct. It illuminates the problem and gets my head gears turning about how to improve the situation.

    -R
    • Focusing on published materials, as many of the sources I add to FamilyTree fall into that category.

      Might future planning at least consider adding a unique "View description in the FamilySearch Catalog" as a "url-type-box" in the "Create a Source" window?

      Something like this might help raise awareness of the catalog.

      I suspect those who are citing information derived from films might also appreciate this action.
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  • Amen! When I first started I only used familysearch. Now I rarely come here, no wonder I get lost looking for the simplest thing. And the reason I rarely come here is I get lost looking for something that used to be here and now is only available if you know the secret phrase.
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  • We need an "Idiots Guide" to the updated FamilySearch.org (I use updated rather than new because we know what confusion that would cause)

    A high level overview of changes for those familiar with familysearch and an explanation of the various "Products" offered by the website for old and new users alike.

    Another really useful high level overview would be a nFS to FT transition document.

    All of these should be highly visible as a link in the main bar What's New

    I think the get started link needs to be restructured too a bit. I think there should be some overall site organization revamp expecialy around getting help/training
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  • Hopefully not inappropriate to share in this forum ...

    For the first time this morning, I wrote a citation that included a reference, "accessed via Digital Public Library of America." Woot!

    One day, the DPLA catalog might just become my "second favorite," behind the FamilySearch Catalog that is.
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