You’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…