This is perhaps the most important genealogy announcement of the past fewyears. The following announcement was written by The Church of Jesus Christof Latter-day Saints:FamilySearch Unveils Program to Increase Access to World's Genealogical Records Tidal Wave of Online Databases Will Result
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH-FamilySearch announced today its Records Access programto increase public access to massive genealogy collections worldwide. Forthe first time ever, FamilySearch will provide free services to archives andother records custodians who wish to digitize, index, publish, and preservetheir collections. The program expands FamiliySearch's previously announceddecision to digitize and provide online access to over 2 million rolls ofcopyrighted microfilm preserved in the Granite Mountain Records Vault. A keycomponent of the program allows FamilySearch and archives to team withGenealogy websites to provide unprecedented access to microfilm in the vaultThe combined results ensure a flood of new record indexes and images onlineat www.FamilySearch.org and affiliated websites. The plan combines the assets and experience of the Genealogical Society ofUtah with the state-of-the-art technology resources of FamilySearch-allunder the single brand name of FamilySearch. The Records Access programallows records custodians to publish their data online by themselves or withthe assistance of FamilySearch or affiliate genealogical websites andHistorical societies. "Records custodians worldwide are experiencing growing pressure to provideaccess to their records online while maintaining control and ownership. Atthe same time, websites that provide digitizing and publishing services arestruggling with the staggering costs," said Wayne Metcalfe, director ofRecords Services for FamilySearch. "The new Record Access program takesadvantage of FamilySearch's resources and creates an economical andeffective forum where record custodians and genealogical websites can worktogether to accomplish their respective objectives," added Metcalfe.Working with the records custodians, FamilySearch can leverage its extensivemicrofilm and growing digital image collection to create digital images foraffiliate genealogical websites at a fraction of the cost. The affiliategenealogy organization will create indices of the digital images and thenpublish the images and the indices on its own website, the archive's websiteor a jointly published site. A copy of the index will also be madeavailable for free on the popular FamilySearch website, which will helpdrive traffic to record images on the custodians' or affiliates' sites. Fullfree access to both the indices and images will be provided to familyhistory centers, FamilySearch managed facilities, and the archives. If therecord custodian seeks revenue to sustain operations, a small fee may berequired to access images outside FamilySearch managed facilities or theArchive.For archives and heritage societies, the new program benefits include:Digitally capture, preserve, and publish records onlineIncrease access to records while maintaining control and ownershipIncrease patronage and business viabilityOver 100 years of archival and publishing experienceFor genealogy websites, the new program helps them:· Benefit from the knowledge and relationships of FamilySearch with thearchival community worldwide· Significantly lower costs associated with acquiring, preserving, orproviding access to data· Increase business viability and website traffic· Leverage an open platform that develops value-added services aroundFamilySearch, the world's largest repository of genealogical data.Under the program, FamilySearch will also provide tools and assistance torecords custodians who want to publish parts of their collection usingstate-of-the-art digital cameras, software, and web-based applications.The archive can work with an affiliate, historical society, or FamilySearchto index the images or host a website for the records custodian. The indexof the record collection will be available for free on FamilySearch, and therecords custodian's site will provide access to the images for free or a feedepending on the needs of the archive and those assisting in theDigitization.One example of the tools FamilySearch can provide is FamilySearch Indexing,a web-based application that engages tens of thousands of volunteersworldwide to create searchable indexes linked to the digital images createdby FamilySearch. "Through mere word-of-mouth promotions, literally tens ofthousands of volunteers are already joining this effort to index the world'srecords by registering at FamilySearchIndexing.org and donating a fewminutes a week online to the effort. Over 100,000 volunteers are expected toenlist in the initiative by year end with the numbers increasing as moreprojects-particularly international projects-are added," said Paul Nauta,manager of Public Affairs for FamilySearch.FamilySearch will announce the first collaborative projects of its newRecords Access program during the National Genealogical Society (NGS)Convention in Richmond, Virginia, the week of May 14, 2007. Many moreProject announcements are expected in the following months.Record custodians and archives that would like additional informationregarding the FamilySearch Records Services can contact Wayne Metcalfe(firstname.lastname@example.org) and genealogy web service providers shouldcontact Dave Harding (email@example.com).FamilySearch (historically known as the Genealogical Society of Utah) is anonprofit organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-daySaints. FamilySearch maintains the world's largest repository ofgenealogical resources accessed through FamilySearch.org, the Family HistoryLibrary in Salt Lake City, and over 4,500 family history centers in 70countries.
Sally Rolls Pavia