FamilySearch continues to put more and more material online in digital format. Some believe that one day it will all be as close as our nearest internet device.

Maybe not.

Probably not.

While FamilySearch continues to create more digital images of records and while they have announced that microfilm will no longer be lent out to members of their vast library network, it does not appear that all those images will be available directly in every genealogist’s home.

Increasingly when attempting to view the digital images of material from the FamilySearch catalog, one gets the following message:

To view these images you must do one of the following:

The reasons for this probably stem largely from agreements FamilySearch has with the original holder of the records. Users of microfilm often saw restrictions on the film’s use on the box in which the film was contained. Restrictions on the use of some materials is nothing new. Some of the digital items that are digital use in a family history center or FamilySearch affiliate library only are available on as a part of their fee-based membership.

There are quite a few records where digital images of microfilm can be viewed on any internet-connected device no matter where the person accessing the material is located.

FamilySearch is using the internet to deliver the images of records to their family history centers and affiliate libraries instead of sending them microfilm. Digital image distribution is cheaper. Microfilm had restrictions as well. This is nothing new. That film had to be viewed in a library–just like these images have to be viewed in a family history center or an affiliate library. It’s the distribution mechanism that has changed.







One response

  1. All this info regarding not being able to read digitized copies at home makes sense except for one thing — I have a volume which I happily gave to FS in digitized form about 7 years ago. And now, even I cannot access it even though I am the “owner”. Some company is keeping me from seeing it. There needs to be some consideration. I even spoke to someone who said “yes” I could have rights to it. But that has never happened

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