By now, almost everyone in the genealogy community is aware that FamilySearch will discontinue its microfilm distribution services as of Thursday, August 31, 2017. Many researchers are concerned because this change is occurring well before the projected completion date (2020) for digitizing the microfilm collection.
From an economics perspective, the evidence suggests that the decision was long overdue. Why?
- The number of manufacturers of microfilm have dwindled down to no more than a handful, and the materials necessary for production are almost non-existent.
- Manufacturing costs have increased.
- The digitization project is well ahead of schedule. FamilySearch has digitized over 1.5 million of the 2.4 million rolls of microfilm.
- The digitization process is expensive but more efficient.
- Digitization enhances the availability of records. Online images are available to anyone with Internet access.
As with any change in procedures, there likely will be some inconvenience.
- Some filmed and digitized records came with access restrictions from the providing entity.
- Depending on the nature of the restrictions, some records will only be accessible at Family History Centers and/or the Family History Library.
- If the record is not available in digitized form (for example, if records at a Family History Center are available only to LDS members), researchers may have to contact the specific entity that created the record.
Options for researchers include
- Submitting orders before the August 31st deadline. The cost will be $7.50 per roll of microfilm and it will be on permanent loan at the Family History Center or Library Affiliate.
- Family History Centers and Library Affiliates have the option of keeping microfilm now on extended loan as well as any films currently on short-term loan.
- Checking online using FamilySearch, Ancestry, My Heritage, Find My Past, etc.
- Planning a trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City or visiting the nearest Family History Center.
- Contacting the entity that generated the original records.
- In the case of undigitized or Vault Records:
a. Continue searching the website periodically to see if they have been added.
b. See if the record is available on microfilm at the Family History Library, Family History
Centers or Library Affiliates.
c. If FamilySearch cannot resolve or negotiate the access restrictions, these records may
never be available without going to the Family History Library and/or a Family History