Microfilm # acquisition (real-world workflow conundrum...)
I apologize for the length of this post, which has to do with identifying a microfilm number when this number is not on hand (i.e., we have a downloaded image or a URL, but not the film number that image came from).
A long-range solution to this pickle might be to simply include the film# (record ID) and the frame number (slide #) in the .jpg filename that downloads. This recommendation aside however, I spot to potential issues:
- I struggle to differentiate between a Microfilm# (aka "Film #" on your website), Digital Folder Number and DGS number. It appears any one of these ID-types can be entered in the "microfilm/microfiche" field to produce the desired document through your Catalogue search feature. I will demonstrate this below, but the problem is a bit more complicated. Problem: users probably don't know that Digital File Number and/or DGS can be searched directly from Microfilm field.
- Acquisition of any one of the three of these number-types can be a doozie. This is really the reason I'm writing today. I want to explain what I mean.
Let's use this URL for the scenario I will demonstrate below:
GOAL: Locate the microfilm # for the page that loads (or DGS / DFN or whatever it shall be called). My thought process was as follows, because I literally just accomplished this seemingly-simple task:
- When the page loaded, I saw "61903" in the URL, so tried searching that as a microfilm number in a separate tab. This was a throwaway idea, but I tried it first anyway. No dice, as expected.
- I then expanded "Image Index" tab at the bottom of the page that loads; a population schedule from Waterford Township, Michigan. This is actually the location of the number we need, but I presume very few researchers would discover this. Reason: a vast majority of researchers must scroll horizontally to arrive at a peculiar, the so-called "Digital File Number," which presents itself at the right-most column in a view devoted otherwise to transcribing a census sheet. Because of this, I have to assume most folks will exit-out of this view, as I did, presuming they are in the wrong place.
- I then visited the "Information" tab. Although I did not get a film number, I did spot "image 56 of 66" in the proposed citation, which simply validated, further, that when I do find the microfilm number that I'm in search of, it will indeed be, as expected, 66 frames long. (Not so!)
- Let's now assume that after running amuck for a while, we eventually do find Digital File Number 5461666 and on a whim, enter that in the "microfilm" field as a Catalog search. The results gets us really close: a catalog record titled "Michigan, 1940 population census : population schedules" is all that presents. We click it, then scroll down and down until we again arrive to "5461666," which is correctly associated with Oakland County, Michigan. We know we're in the right place! (Amusingly, though, this number is no-longer the Digital Folder Number anymore. Now it's the "DGS." Anyway, we click the camera icon, and....
- We arrive at an 814-frame reel entitled... "Film # 5461666." 66 frames were expected, 814 however present. So now we can't just locate the image number and be done with the task at hand. We now have to find the page we need.
- My method was to click BACK on my web-browser, scrolled-down to DGS 5461666 once again, and this time click the search icon. Herein is the reason I write this doozie. After I ran my name search, got my hit, then clicked the camera icon, I landed.... back in the original 66-frame microfilm that I was trying to ID initially #1 . ...the same film series that seemingly has no microfilm number, anywhere.
My solution was to then go back into the 814-slide microfilm and forge my way through it until I got what I needed; good 'ole slide # 590 (of 814).
If readers spot something I did wrong, I'd love to know what that was. Otherwise, I somewhat presume my running amok wasn't entirely unique in these instances, so I thought I'd articulate where my workflow struggles were.
Thanks for listening, and especially a huge thanks for all you do! Cheers!