Many records I want to view have been unavailable for several months now. When will they be available again?
Hi @Denise Phillips. We are aware that many of the digital records that have been available in the past if you went to a Family History Center or an Affiliate Library have not been available in the Family History Centers.
As you are aware, Covid-19 caused our centers to be closed most of the year 2020 and much of 2021, and many are just now beginning to reopen either by appointment or for specific hours. During this time, the FamilySearch Portal [which has allowed our guests to view some items that have restrictions] has been down for updates and maintenance. These improvements should now be implemented and the portal is once again operational. Please check with your local Family History Center to see what hours they are open. Should you go to an open center and discover that films that say they should be available in a Family History Center are not visible, please work with the Center staff to troubleshoot the problem. They can contact FamilySearch Support to have help with any technical issues that might keep the portal from being functional in their facility.
To review the status of any films you may have viewed in the past, please always check the status by going to the Family Search Catalog. Click search, then catalog, and enter the information about the film you wish to view to check the status. The film notes will help you recognize whether there are restrictions with viewing the images. The following knowledge article provides a reminder about using the film notes.
Please click on the links for the related articles which are found at the bottom of this knowledge article for additional information.
Our final reminder is that while it is the record owners who place restrictions on how they wish images to be made available, FamilySearch is always in negotiation with record custodians to get the broadest permission possible for records that verify the life events and relationships of our ancestors.
Because this question is actually related to doing research at FamilySearch, we will be moving it to the Search Category in the Community Help Center so that it can be viewed by others who have similar questions. Please don't be alarmed when it shows as Closed in the FamilySearch Community general category. Clicking the title will take you to your question and any comments that have been made about your concern. Your discussion will remain open and active in the Search category.
If you are referring to messages reading, "This image is unavailable for online viewing at this time", there is no way of finding out when these films might be available again. In some cases films are withdrawn temporarily, but in other cases they may never be available to view on the FamilySearch website in future.
The issue often relates to a change in contractual conditions, whereby the record custodian might have entered into an arrangement with a commercial website (e.g., Find My Past or Ancestry) to allow them exclusive rights to provide online viewing of the images.
I have found this to be the case, but also instances where films have become available again after, say, a few months. You can only keep trying, as the Catalog is not being updated at present, so will not provide you with details of any changes in the status of availability ( e.g., if a film does suddenly become available again, to view at home or at a Family History Center).
I believe there is a separate, general issue regarding viewing films at Family History Centers, at present, but am not sure of how long that problem will carry on for.
Update - whilst I was typing the above, @CDBurk has posted some very helpful comments, connected to both of your likely issues.