LDS to put microfilm in vaults on Internet

Huge effort planned to index family history data

Published: Friday, Sept. 9 2005 9:16 a.m. MDT

The indexing demonstration and other planned improvements to the popular FamilySearch.org Web site are drawing standing-room-only crowds at the convention. The changes "will make great strides to simplify and increase the success of the family history experience," he said.

Just when the first indexed information from the microfilms will become available online has not yet been announced. "We don't want to be swamped with people before we're ready to handle it," Nauta said.

The new developments won't make more than 5,000 small family history centers housed in LDS chapels worldwide obsolete. Previously, those looking for information contained on the microfilms stored in the church's Granite Mountain Records Vault had to request that copies of information on the films be sent to their local center. At some point in the future, that likely won't be necessary any longer, he said, but "that will continue to be a role for a long time.

"Family history centers will continue to be a mainstay" for accessing information on the microfilms for some time to come.

As more of those records become digitized and indexes become available, the role of the local centers, he said, "will probably change. Some people have no Internet access, and they'll use them for that. The role of the family history centers will evolve over time to help people get started" with their research because "many people don't know how to do that. They will become more fundamental to help people get and stay organized, and to answer questions they have doing their research."

Many of those in town to attend the conference are also making use of the church's renowned Family History Library, less than a block from the Salt Palace. Hours have been extended to accommodate guests, with the library open from 8 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. through Saturday.

"It's an exciting time for family history," Nauta said. "Those just developing this kind of research as a hobby will never have any appreciation for how far this industry has evolved, even in the past 10 years."

E-mail: carrie@desnews.com

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