Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Sponsoring microfilm access online

From: Diane
DearMYRTLE

You posted the following on your blog "1, 5-10 year possibilities (Part G) - Microfilm access online" :

If the item has not been scanned or indexed, one will merely need to pay a nominal fee and submit a request that the film be scanned and presented online at FamilySearch.org within the week without the immediate necessity of indexing.

This was addressed at the St. George Expo by representatives of World Vital Records /FamilyLink in their presentation “FHLC 2.0.”

They claim to be working with the LDS church to bring Web 2.0 technology to the FHLCatalog. For a fee (of approximately $30) you can “sponsor” a film scan. This would make the film available to the sponsor (online) within a couple of days. We were shown the sample screens.

There were many questions about who could view a sponsored scan, what if more than one person wanted to sponsor the scan, or what if a scan was sponsored (and limited to the view of the sponsor) but another individual clicked (at a later time) to sponsor the same scan. Would the second sponsor have to pay another fee? Many of these questions weren’t answered satisfactorily.

The representative claimed that release of this is within a few months (perhaps May or June). I can’t believe something that close to release would have more of the details worked out.

There was much more… but I thought you might be interested in this portion of the presentation.

DearDIANE,
THANKS for writing and reporting on the class this past weekend at the St. George Family History Expo given by Jim Ericson, VP of Marketing FamilyLink.com. This took place after Ol’ Myrt submitted the material to both my blog and Lisa Alzo for her Family Chronicle article.

The handouts from the syllabus CD on the subject are copyrighted by Jim Ericson and weren’t actually all that forthcoming. Ol’ Myrt here can perhaps the part that says “increased interactivity, including the ability to link to online digital sources if available. The user can even purchase the book, CD, microfilm or subscribe to the online version if available.” This doesn’t begin to offer the detail you’ve provided in your report of the class you attended.

THANKS for keeping us informed.

Attempts to communicate with WVR/FL’s Paul Allen and Whitney have gone unanswered.

It would seem to me that sponsoring a microfilm for $30 is mighty steep for the average researcher, considering:
  • Scanning twice (for verification purposes) takes less than 30 minutes.
  • Hard drive storage space is cheaper than ever.

What costs money is bandwidth to view 5mega-pixel images online. To fix this, I wouldn’t mind paying FamilySearch a viewer’s fee of $2 per microfilm. Any researcher who follows will pay the same film-viewing fee. It is less than the cost of ordering film via snail mail. This seems an equitable solution.

Implementation? FamilySearch would merely be reassigning folks from the mail room to the scanning department. Sure these tasks require different skills, but in today’s economy, workers are especially thankful to have a job, and on-the-job training isn’t a new concept.

Look for an announcement at the 2009 NGS Conference in the States in Raleigh, North Carolina in May. The big genealogy players like to make announcements at national conferences. Believe me, Ol' Myrt will be there with bells on. All ears, and all that.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
DearMYRTLE,
Your friend in genealogy.
Myrt@DearMYRTLE.com

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This and previous blog entries are fully searchable by going to http://blog.DearMYRTLE.com. Myrt welcomes queries and research challenges, but regrets she is unable to answer each personally.