Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Scanned books still backed up on FamilySearch.org

More than three years ago, I had a book scanned by the Mesa FamilySearch Library. I quote from a previous post of 19 May 2011:
More than a year ago, I had a book scanned by the Mesa Regional Family History Center. The Mesa FHC is scanning books in conjunction with the FamilySearch/BYU Family History Archives to scan its collection for inclusion in that of FamilySearch. No one seems to know where the scans end up and why none of the scans appear online. 
The book I had scanned was a large book compiled by my Great-grandmother on her family and on my Great-grandfather's family. Although the book lacks many sources, it has photos and histories very much worth preserving and valuable to the family. I also happen to personally possess the copyright for the book. There are absolutely no copyright issues in making a copy available online. This is the book: 
Overson, Margaret Godfrey Jarvis. George Jarvis And Joseph George De Friez Genealogy. Mesa, Ariz: M.J. Overson, 1957.
Over these past years, this book has become the "test case" for our local scanning project. The book is listed in the FamilySearch Library catalog, but has never appeared in digitized form. There are no copyright issues with this particular book, since I personally have the original copyright in my possession and signed all the proper documentation to allow the book to be digitized and put online.

At RootsTech 2013 recently, I once again spoke with the FamilySearch digital book team and was assured that this delay was being resolved and that the hundreds of books scanned by the Mesa FamilySearch Library volunteers would soon start to appear in numbers. I have closely followed all of the details of the problems both in Mesa with the scanning process and at the FamilySearch end with the cataloging and other issues. But the end result is simply that the books are sitting in a file somewhere and have never made it to the online collection.

It is apparent that the digitizing projects, those from FamilySearch, and other repositories have undergone a huge challenge. Not only are there a multitude of legal issues, but there are challenges with  the production cycle of moving the book from a digital file into a complex online file system with cataloging and other requirements. It is not that I am especially impatient since I haven't revisited this issue for a couple of years, but I suggest that the collection could be expanded at a slightly faster rate if some of the details of the process were streamlined and not made more complicated.

As an attorney, I am fully aware of the obstacles that a legal department can impose on an apparently simple process. But when there is no issue of copyright protection of the documents, it seems that using legal requirements as an excuse is just that, an excuse. As it is, I am not at all alone in this frustration. There are dozens, perhaps hundreds of other genealogists who have given their family histories to be scanned and are similarly waiting to see the online products. Let's see if I am writing this same post over again next year.

1 comment:

  1. FamilySearch does amazing work, but I still find myself frustrated at the frequent chasms. Chasms in communication between teams, chasms in the pipelines of collections or donations etc. The work they do, and the talent there is amazing. That being said, there are some major inexcusable behaviors that are all too common.

    It would be a little better if they told you up front that it would take a few years to put your book online, but you are told the following on the website:

    "Where do I find the materials I donated?

    Go to https://familysearch.org, and click on Books.

    Type the title of the book into the search box, and click Search.

    Donated Materials can take up to six months to appear on the FamilySearch website.

    If, after six months, your materials have not appeared, please contact support@familysearch.org."
    https://help.familysearch.org/publishing/564/101707_f.SAL_AreaSupport.html

    They are changing managers in their books team, they have been moving the system they run books on around for years, FS has many priorities like getting the tree out this year to everyone. While, it is worth recognizing, none of that excuses the false impression they give, that books will be online in 6 months.

    Perhaps when you give your book to them they should say: "We are moving the books system around, changing managers, and in the recent past have failed to get books online for multiple years." Then again, they might get less donations that way...

    Frustrated and hopeful

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