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Thursday, January 9, 2014

Digitized films being removed from the FamilyHistory Library

If you haven't visited the Family History Library lately, you might be surprised at the incremental changes going on with the collections and arrangement of the resources, including the addition of more computer stations. Recently, some of the collections of films are being relocated (actually removed) from the Library. Here is the announcement explaining the changes:
Due to the growing film collection in the Family History Library, measures had to be taken to remove selected film collections to create space for high volume of films being ordered from the Granite Mountain Records Vault. 
As of December 17th, 2013, the Library has removed the US Soundex films and the 1st filming of the US Census for 1860 and 1870. These films are available on multiple websites, including The Mexico films that are available online are also being removed from the Library. 
Part of the change will include removing the overflow section completely from the International B1 floor. Films that have been ordered within the last 2 months will be moved to the High Density storage area where their use can be tracked. All other films will be sent back to the Vault. Starting on January 6th, all new films ordered from the International collection will be stored in High Density. To access those films, patrons will have to go to the Access Services Window on the B1 floor. 
All films stored in High Density that are not used for the space of one year will be sent back to the vault. Films that are used multiple times during the space of a year will be incorporated into the core section for easier patron access. 
There may be a delay in the patron catalog regarding the current location of the films being moved/removed. Please, contact the Access Services Window at least 24 hours in advance to check the location of films. If films are not found in the Library, they can be ordered from the vault by going to or by calling the Access Services Window (US & Canada 801-240-7378; International 801-240-2334; British 801-240-7379). 
Thank you for your patience while we make the transition. If you have any questions, contact the Access Services Windows.
Some of this may not make much sense unless you are familiar with the current layout and the availability of the older microfilms. It is pretty obvious from the statements being made, that FamilySearch is monitoring microfilm usage in order to determine which films to digitize and put online first. It makes sense to digitize films that are of the highest demand first. It also makes a lot of sense to remove the films once they have been digitized. If you are searching for a film In the FamilySearch Library Catalog you will see an indication of whether or not the film is available online in the catalogue entries. Here is a screenshot of a catalog page showing the link to the digitized records:

At some point in time, I would expect that all of the libraries in the FamilySearch system would remove their existing microfilm records as they are digitized.


  1. Microfilm is much easier to browse through than digital images. This is not a policy for patrons' benefit.

    1. I have to beg to disagree. I would much rather look at digital images all day than sit hunched over an antique microfilm reader. I never could find one that operated properly except on rare occasions.

  2. Thank you for this post James. I always appreciate the information you share. And, I have to agree about online vs microfilm. I would much rather scroll through online images than microfilm. I realize it's a personal choice though.
    As always,
    Diane @ (my blog all things genealogy)

  3. Thanks so much for this - very timely for me as I'll be in SLC next week. And just my 2 cents, I also would much, MUCH rather look at digital images. For some reason when I'm looking at microfilm I always seem to be squinting...not sure why.

  4. I tried to read the original posting on the familysearch blog, but it doesn't show up - it gives a 404 notice ...
    Was there any reference as to what it actually means when a microfilm is considered "not in demand" and will go into the vault?
    I would imagine the ordering process will be longer? For US folk this might not mean that much, but me here in Germany, I have to wait for microfilms longer to begin with ...
    Apart from this practical consideration, I find this to be a logical step forward. And there really is no need to keep the microfilms, which have been put online, easily available. As it has been mentioned before - this is a question of personal taste in research techniques and getting used to changing technical circumstances.

    1. Thanks for the comment. I am certain this means that it will take longer. They usually say that it will take two to three days to get the film from the vault, even if you are sitting in the Library in Salt Lake.

  5. Hello,
    Perhaps you can help me. I would like to order Troy, NY, directory fiches and films but for multiple film numbers I get the message that

    Film No. 6044544 is not currently available for loan.

    Do you know what the issue might be? They have not been added to

    Thanks for your help.

    1. Hi, I have no idea. You could call 1-866-406-1830 for support or I note that the directory is in also for a search. You can access for free in a FamilySearch Center.