Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Bill Mangum–What’s New with FamilySearch in 2012?

Bill Mangum of FamilySearchYou’ll recall I railed on Ancestry.com after their RootsTech class titled “Five New Things to Try at Ancestry.com.” (See “You Are Wasting Your Money.”) Since I try to treat Ancestry.com and FamilySearch evenly, it’s time to rail on FamilySearch.

Bill Mangum, nine years with FamilySearch, did a great job. Once again, the problem is me. I follow these organizations so closely, that what is new to the general public is not new to me. Unfortunately, at the St. George Family History Expo when I saw a class titled “What’s New With FamilySearch in 2012,” I thought I’d get a vision of what was coming in 2012.

The class could have been titled “What Was New at FamilySearch in 2011.”

Still, there were some forward looking statements.

FamilySearch has some aggressive goals concerning the 1940 census. When it is released, FamilySearch will have someone at the National Archives, ready to accept delivery of the images. FamilySearch will then immediately start posting images on FamilySearch.org According to Mangum it may take FamilySearch 10 days to get them all online. “We want to have them up just as fast as we can.” (If you don’t want to wait, the National Archives will have them posted on their own website, http://www.1940census.archives.gov , by 9 am.)

The syllabus stated that in the near future FamilySearch would support searching multiple collections from the browse all collections page, the search form, and via filters on the results page. I have it on good authority that before you see multiple-collection search, you will see collection-specific search. Collection-specific search will allow a richer search form which supports the particular set of indexed fields in a specific record collection.

“FamilySearch will soon provide you with more options for deciding which matching requirements you want to use.” Today, each field in the search form has a little checkbox which activates “exact” matching for that field. “Shortly you will be able to specify Exact, Exact+Close or Exact+Close+Missing on a field by field basis.”

I’ve mentioned before that FamilySearch was replacing its Flash image viewer with an HTML viewer while Ancestry.com was switching the other direction. Flash is a special technology that requires the addition of a browser plugin. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work in some libraries that don’t allow plugins. It also doesn’t work on many hand-held devices. HTML is a standard that requires nothing more than a current browser like Internet Explorer, Firefox, or Chrome. The new FamilySearch image viewer does everything the old viewer did save two things: it doesn’t have a thumbnail and it doesn’t allow printing of a rectangular portion of the screen.

FamilySearch plans to translate their wiki into different languages. It currently has 65,000 articles and 40 more are added every day.

FamilySearch would like to catalog all the holdings of the family history centers. They would also like to digitize the unique resources of each.

Online film ordering (FamilySearch.org/films) is available now pretty much anywhere but in the Northeast. Speaking of film, as of 15 February film rental prices went up. Short term loans are now $7.50 and extended loan costs $18.75.

There are 125,000 active volunteers indexing over 125 projects. About 200 million names are indexed per year.

In his subsequent session, “FamilySearch Global Initiatives,” Mangum shared a couple of stats you might find interesting. Nearly 1,000 people work for FamilySearch.

It used to take 290 days for an indexing project to get published. They have reduced that time by 3.5 times. By my calculation, that means it takes an indexing project 82 days to get published.

Now let’s apply the math to the 1940 census. If it’s released on 2 April 2012…

4 comments:

  1. One thing that *is* new is the searchable "Books" tab. Try it out. Can you figure out a way to see a page listed in the results? Does the server instead try to load the whole book? Is there a way to navigate within a volume, as there was (is?) at the BYU Library site?

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  2. Dear readers,

    I originally reported in this article that family history centers had been renamed FamilySearch centers. FamilySearch has informed me that that is not the case. I have corrected the article accordingly.

    -- The Insider

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  3. Insider,

    Thanks for the update. Re cataloging all the holdings of the various FHCs, do mean microfilm/fiche and/or books & stuff? As part of the switch-over to online ordering the FHC I volunteer at made a physical inventory of their holdings and updated it to SLC. This of course now allows us to see if something is already held so hopefully we don't make an unnecessary order. As to books and stuff, I suspect most of it is already held at the FHL so I am not sure much would be of interest to scan that isn't already past copyright and on GoogleBooks, or subject to copyright and thus probably unscannable. Still perhaps our holdings are not typical.

    Re increases in rental fees, which are understandable (and offset somewhat by the new ability to keep items longer), it would be nice if FS made it a priority to scan films that have indexes to county deeds and other records. This would avoid the usual need to first order the index and then also pay to order the microfilm(s) of actual interest.

    On Acom moving to Flash viewer which is less desirable in many ways, I wonder if they are doing so to mesh with Fold3.

    MikeF


    P.S. I just figured out how to comment again after my email to you. Although I disabled Noscript I also had to enable 3rd party cookies.

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