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Thursday, September 7, 2017

The End of FamilySearch Microfilm Rentals

With the one week extension, to 7 September 2017, this day becomes the last day to order microfilm through the rental program. For genealogy, this is a milestone event. But for the vast majority of family historians and genealogists, it will pass unnoticed. I have been continuing my ad hoc polls about microfilm usage and I find that very few of the people who volunteer or visit the BYU Family History Library have used microfilm for research during the past year.

There are a number of articles and blog posts on the subject of the discontinuance of the microfilm shipments. You might want to read a few if you are interested.
Here is a summary of the current situation as of the 7th of September 2017 from FamilySearch:
  • Patrons can still order microfilms online until Thursday, September 7, 2017.
  • After film ordering ends, if customers need access to a particular film yet to be digitized, they can express interest to have it added to the priority digitization list by contacting FamilySearch Support (Toll Free: 1-866-406-1830).
  • All of the microfilm rented by patrons in the past 5 years have now been digitized by FamilySearch—over 1.5 million microfilms (ca. 1.5 billion images).
  • The remaining microfilms are being digitally scanned at a rate of 1,000 films per day and are projected to be complete by 2020.
  • New digital images are available as they are scanned in the Catalog.
  • Films currently on loan in family history centers and affiliate libraries are automatically granted extended loan status.
  • Affiliate libraries now have access to nearly all of the restricted image collections as family history centers.
  • Visitors to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City will still be able to order needed microfilms to use during their research visits.
I am on my way to the BYU Family History Library to view a microfilm that is only available for viewing in a Family History Center or Affiliated Library. 


  1. Hi:
    A FHC patron asked me the following question:

    What does “• Visitors to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City will still be able to order needed microfilms to use during their research visits. “ mean? The word “order” throws me. The films in Salt Lake are self-serve in file cabinets. If I go to Salt Lake, do I have to “order” them ahead of time?
    Thank you

    1. Interesting question. I have been led to believe that all the microfilm presently in the Family History Library in Salt Lake will still be available to patrons as it has in the past. This is a direct quote from FamilySearch however, so I don't really know. I will see if there is a clarification of this.

  2. Is there an online list of microfilm numbers that have been scanned and are online?
    Bob Fleck

    1. Yes, it is called the Catalog and it is located in the pull-down Search Menu on every page of the website.