Why do some catalog records still show as only available as "Films"?
There was an announcement on 21 September ("Church Completes Major Microfilm Digitization Initiative",https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/article/church-completes-major-microfilm-digitization-initiative ).
I've spot-checked a number of films (e.g., 0193971, 0848943, 0979481, etc.) and found that they still show the "Film-only" icon. On the other hand, the news release does say "it will take time to index and publish the digital images". I don't require that the records be indexed, just available as images. If the digital images are already available, then why the delay?
Does that mean that the catalog can't be believed? Or, that there is some restriction that prevents their being digitized? Or, something else, such as FHL file servers are slow/overloaded?
If there is a number in the DGS column in the Catalog, it means the film has been digitized. However not all digitized films can be published. This could be due to privacy- in general, if there is any record less than 100 years on a film, the entire film cannot be published. More often, it is because the record owner/custodian has not given FS permission to publish the digitized film. In some cases FS has yet asked them, in others the record custodian has refused.
For the 1st example you mentioned, I note these are Protestant German records. These records will almost certainly be available at Archion.de This is a subscription website, therefore it makes sense that the record custodian has refused permission, since people would use FS to bypass the subscription fees.
For the 3rd example (film 0979481), there are 11 Items , many with different owners. If just one of those owners don't give permission for their Item to be published, then the other 10 also cannot be published.1
The problem is that "digitized" is not at all the same thing as "online".
There are doubtless some films where the lack of online access is temporary, but in most cases, if it's not available at this point, it's because there is some type of contractual or legal restriction prohibiting public access to something on that film. Most often, the restriction is due to privacy laws.
For determining accessibility, FamilySearch treats films as a single unit (even though they're now digital image groups, not actually films). For example, if a film contains material from a country with a 100-year privacy rule, and there is an image dated 1923 included, then the entire film (of hundreds or even thousands of images) will be unavailable online.1
Thank you for the prompt responses, but there must be something else going on. I actually checked on 72 films, of which 40% were marked with the FILM icon. Although it wasn't a randomized sample, 40% seems to be way too high to be explained by the above two suggestions. Perhaps it's just some long "production" delay. What we need is input from an employee who is familiar with the actual process.0
Back in 2017-2018, on the old GetSatisfaction Forum, there was a topic which included some comment from the Technical Product Manager, FamilySearch Rights Management. https://web.archive.org/web/20200802171145/https://getsatisfaction.com/familysearch/topics/south-africa-dutch-reformed-church-records-stellenbosch-archive-1690-2011
I have no idea if the Rights Management Department still exists. However, I have never seen any FamilySearch employee of such a department commenting on the FamilySearch Community Forum, so Evergreen, you may possibly have to wait for a long time for "input from an employee who is familiar with the actual process".
Regarding the splitting of film, my own view is that FamilySearch could currently do this if it wished to, but has decided not to. Possibly this is due to reasons of the process being labour intensive, cost etc. But it is technically possibly, as shown by the fact that images available to Search as Images have been split up.0
In my experience over several years of using FS, the proportion of films that aren't digitally available is probably not quite 40%, but it is quite substantial. The two reasons I explained- privacy and need for record custodian permission- result in tens of thousands of films being unpublishable. There is growing concern around the world about privacy, and the increase in commercialization of genealogy means that record custodians who once were happy to have their records freely available now demand that FS take the records offline so that they can set up their own website and charge subscription fees.
FS has previously said that it hopes to break films up into smaller pieces. For example, film 0979481 has 11 Items, and could be split up so that each Item was its own film. That would allow FS to publish the Items they can legally publish, and to leave a smaller number of Items unpublished. I personally hope that since the digitization project is now completed, FS will now have time for this project, which will make millions of images newly available online.2
I see some excellent messages about your question and just wanted to bring one additional item to your attention. Currently the FamilySearch Catalog information is locked. FamilySearch engineers are transitioning the Catalog to new hardware and software. During the transition, the catalog is locked. We are not able to make corrections or changes at this time. When corrections or changes can be made in the catalog, the following knowledge article from our Help Center will be updated with instructions.
Because some of the information in the Catalog about films might not be current, please remember that we are providing access to more and more images each day. That is why there is a new Explore Historical Images feature which you access through the Images link on the Search drop-down list. These articles will help describe how to do your searches here.
I hope these knowledge articles will be helpful as you continue your research.0
Because this question is related to searching at the FamilySearch site, I am moving it to the Community Search Help Center Category instead of the General FamilySearch Community category so that others who have a similar question and view the discussion. Don't be alarmed when the discussion shows as closed in the FamilySearch Community category. Click the title and you will be redirected to the Search Category where you will see that the discussion is open and active.0
There seems to be a more general problem here. In the comment of MaureenE123 of 8 October there is a link to a web.archive.org replay of a similar issue. In it a person says: " the impression I have from what I have read, is that specific problems should be sent to "Help" and this Forum is for general feedback and suggestions. What avenues does a person have when "Help" will not help? Louis's complaint about records, which were previously available as images, not now being available, should have been passed on the the relevant Department, I would think Historical Records, as to this point there is no indication he will get an "official" response from this Forum.
I get the impression the "Help" area is manned by volunteers, but surely they must be receive some training? Management, how about diverting some "Campaigns" budget to training, or providing information volunteers can access? As a first step, how about setting out clearly in writing, accessible on the website, what queries the Help is to deal with/answer, and what this Forum is for."
To echo the same concerns, as well-meaning as the "answers" might be, it seems to me that we are in a "blind leading the blind" situation. Who knows the actual facts and speaks with authority?? What are the channels of communication between this forum and the professionals at FamilySearch?1
From the press release:
"All of the microfilms are digitized and published on FamilySearch. However, they are not all “available” for viewing. While the majority are broadly accessible, some will have varying degrees of access limitations governed by contractual agreements or other restraints. Where access limitations exist, most will be available through the FamilySearch Family History Library, a local FamilySearch center, or a third party website. There are also some digital collections that are not currently available. We apologize for any inconvenience in these circumstances. "2
If 40% aren't available, it hardly seems worth the effort. Of course they were "available", as films, before the digitization project put an end to film ordering.0
Yes as mentioned - the Catalog items with just a film reel icon are only available as film even if they have a DGS number - because of contractual access restriction - IF as mentioned you cannot locate them at Search> Images. I believe they are available in Salt Lake City at the FHL. Perhaps the lookup service can help you with the films you are interested in:
So from what I have learned about these types of questions - the general search pattern - to see if images are available for a collection:
1. Search> Records (either with parameters, by collection or by location)
2. Search> Images
3. Search> Catalog
If the collection/images are not available through these searches - they either have access restriction to FHL or are in some pre-publication state - neither making them immediately available. In this case it's best to use the lookup service above - Familysearch can let you know the status directly there.
I hope this helps.0
It was no longer cost-effective for FamilySearch to duplicate microfilm and send it to FHCs around the world. There are very few companies left that make and repair equipment for microfilm. Even if 40% of the records can't be published for legal reasons, that still leaves millions of images that can be now be viewed digitally without the need for a microfilm reader.0
There have been many interesting thoughts in this discussion thread about why there is a reel instead of a camera when a DGS number verifies a film has been digitized. News releases recently confirmed that the digitizing project that was announced in 2017 when we discontinued circulating microfilms has been completed.
I will not speculate about the decision to discontinue circulating the films, but they are still all available at the Family History Library in Salt Lake, and they can be viewed there if you see a reel instead of a camera.
I have already commented about the number of digital images that are being made available each day, and that are accessible from the Explore Historical Images feature. I hope that rather than being concerned about images that have not been made available, it might be well to focus on the 4,765,904,757 images that are available.
If you are not in a position to go to the Family History Library yourself, your might consider contacting someone through the Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness option to see they would be available to go to the Library and view the films you are interested in on your behalf.
FamilySearch is a free website, dedicated to assisting those who wish to find their ancestors. We do our best to use available resources to make that possible for the greatest number of individuals around the World. We wish you every success as you research the ways that have been mentioned through this thread to continue your own family history research.2