For some time now I have been "writing around" the topic of the end of microfilm distribution from FamilySearch.org. Well, the day has finally been announced when the distribution will end. The above message appeared in the Family History section of LDS.org. Here is the text of the announcement:
Family History Microfilm Discontinuation
On September 1, 2017, FamilySearch will discontinue its microfilm distribution services. (The last day to order microfilm will be on August 31, 2017.)
The change is the result of significant progress made in FamilySearch’s microfilm digitization efforts and the obsolescence of microfilm technology.From talking to some Family History Center Directors, I know that some centers have been told to return all of their microfilm to Salt Lake City. Unanswered questions include the following:
Digital images of historical records can be accessed today in 3 places on FamilySearch.org under Search.
- Online access to digital images of records allows FamilySearch to reach many more people, faster and more efficiently.
- FamilySearch is a global leader in historic records preservation and access, with billions of the world’s genealogical records in its collections.
- Over 1.5 million microfilms (ca. 1.5 billion images) have been digitized by FamilySearch, including the most requested collections based on microfilm loan records worldwide.
- The remaining microfilms should be digitized by the end of 2020, and all new records from its ongoing global efforts are already using digital camera equipment.
- Family history centers will continue to provide access to relevant technology, premium subscription services, and digital records, including restricted content not available at home.
When approved by priesthood leaders, centers may continue to maintain microfilm collections already on loan from FamilySearch after microfilm ordering ends. Centers have the option to return microfilm that is available online or otherwise not needed. As more images are published online, centers may reevaluate whether to retain microfilm holdings.
- Records include historical records indexed by name or organized with an image browse.
- Books include digital copies of books from the Family History Library and other libraries.
- Catalog includes a description of genealogical materials (including books, online materials, microfilm, microfiche, etc.) in the FamilySearch collection.
- What about the availability of microfilmed records that are not presently digitized and will not be digitized until some time in the next three years?
- What happens to the present availability of the microfilm collection at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah?
- How much longer will microfilm readers be available in the Family History Centers?
There are probably a lot more questions. I have also been writing for some time about the future of Family History Centers given that the research done in the Centers will "all be online" in the future. But that is a post for another day.