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February 15, 2011

Happiness Is: The Family History Library in Salt Lake City

In Front of FHL
Recently I had the opportunity to use the Family History Library in Salt Lake City for two wonderful days. I've been before so it was not new to me but I did learn a few new tricks which I'm happy to share with my readers.

We landed in Salt Lake City late Monday afternoon. Since the Library closes at 5 p.m. on Mondays I opted to unpack and rest a bit at the hotel. We met Joan Miller and her husband Reg for a nice supper at Olive Garden Restaurant (I thought it was appropriate given the "OLIVE" part of the name!)

Joan and I have corresponded on Facebook, Twitter and by email but never met in person before.  Joan is the owner of Luxegen Genealogy and Family History blog and we were both in Salt Lake as official RootsTech Bloggers.

Microfilm Rows

The first place we headed in the Family History Library was the floor for US and Canada microfilm. Once there we chose a microfilm reader. There are different options for readers - for left-handed users, for handicapped and for enlarging smaller microfilm.

Microfilm Numbers Sign

I chose a reader and my husband and I started to hunt for the film numbers I wanted. You are allowed to take 5 at a time from the self-serve drawers. The films are easy to find as there are large signs at the end of each row of drawers. These signs show the film numbers found in that specific row.

Microfilm Drawer
We found our row and then looked down the numbered drawers. Each drawer has an easy-to-read sign showing what films are in each.

I easily found the drawer I wanted and took 3 film boxes back to my reader.

I was lucky enough to run into my good friend Steve Morse of One-Step Search Engine fame. I knew he was also at RootsTech and we hoped we'd get a chance to spend a bit of time together, so it was nice to see him at the Library
Hubby, Lorine, Steve Morse

Soon I found a few documents I wanted to save. I had the choice to use the amazing film scanner the FHL has on site or my little iPhone app called ScannerPro. I opted to use ScannerPro since I had not played with it much before coming to Salt Lake City.

Example of scan using ScannerPro

Using ScannerPro on my iPhone I was able to easily and quickly scan the documents I wanted. Before processing the scans (right on my iPhone) I edited them with the easy-to-use editing options included in ScannerPro. Then I processed and uploaded the scans to Evernote (I could also have uploaded them to GoogleDocs or Dropbox) directly from the app.

Using Evernote or Dropbox allowed the scans to sync to all my devices including my main computer back home. Technology at its best!

For some of the pages of microfilm that I wanted, I used the camera setting on my iPhone instead of ScannerPro.  If I had wanted to use the ScanPro1000 that the Family History Library provides, all I had to do was take a Quick Start tutorial sheet and follow the directions. After following directions and creating your scan of the image you want on the microfilm you have several choices:

1. Print 8.5x11 or 11x17
2. Scan to hard drive
3. Scan to USB port
4. Scan to CD ROM

I neglected to note the cost of using ScanPro1000 so perhaps a reader can share that with us. (Banai Lynn Feldstein writes to say  "Scanning is free. You can save to flash drive or to their hard drive (then upload to Dropbox or email to yourself -- they block some emails, but gmail works; I haven't tried Dropbox yet to verify it's not blocked). Printing on paper is 5 cents. I think 11"x17" sheets of paper are 10 cents.")

Note: Photos of Library interior taken with permission of Library staff


Banai Lynn Feldstein said...

Scanning is free. You can save to your own flash drive or burn to a CD. Or save on their drive and to email yourself or upload it. (They block some email, but Gmail works. I haven't tested to see if they block Dropbox yet; hopefully not.)

Printing is 5 cents, or I believe 10 cents on 11" x 17" paper

James said...

My thought is that using the camera on an iPhone (or any other mobile device) would be sufficient to capture a reference image, but would not provide sufficient resolution for an image you wanted to archive or exploit for research. I believe that an iPhone camera will provide from 2 to 5 megapixels of resolution, depending on which generation of phone you own. A 5 megapixel image might be sufficient under ideal circumstances, but considering the less-than-optimal environment of a microfilm reader projection, I would be doubtful. The controls on one of the digital microfilm scanners at the Family History Library would, I think, typically provide a better result, especially if you needed to zoom in on a section of the image at a later time to read small print.

Assuming that the image linked from your blog is not a full-resolution example of an iPhone document capture from a microfilm reader, perhaps you can upload a full-resolution example? If seeing is believing, I might then be convinced. Otherwise, I am doubtful. And if the document image linked from your post is a full-resolution example, then I am convinced this is not the way to go unless no other option is available.

Greta Koehl said...

I love your description of researching in the library there - it's like being there and a great help to SLC FHL novices.

KevinW said...

Thanks for sharing. Please do not hesitate to tell us more if you have it.

Linda Gartz, Family Archaeologist said...

Following the happenings at RootsTech has shown me the overwhelming capacity of the archives there. I knew about them, but seeing them (in all their gleaming organizational glory) in action, has really prompted me to get more info. I understand they may even have microfilm from my 18th century ancestors from a church in Gerstheim. Must pursue . Thanks for showing this.

Nolichucky Roots said...

I echo Greta's comments. This is so useful for planning/dreaming purposes. Thank you.

Tom Dial said...

I have to agree with James. The scanners at the Access Services area on Floor 2 are very superior to using a camera at a microfilm reader. And there is plenty of help provided in using the scanners so you are not left alone trying to figure them out. - Elder Tom Dial US/Canada Zone Floors 2 & 3, Family History Library.

Genealogy Blogger said...

Hi James & Tom - You are both absolutely correct. I should have taken more care to explain my rationale for using my iPhone Scanner App.

Just to clarify though, the Scanner App does a very good job, much better than a simple photo taken with the camera.

But the scanners in the Library are far superior! No argument there.

My oversight was to explain why I used my Scanner app on my iPhone. I didn't need a top quality ready-to-display image. I needed an image that would work as a reference, one that was legible and one that was easy to use. By easy to use I don't mean that I was unable to use the scanner in the FHL!

I mean that because of my physical challenges, the less walking I have to do the better. So anything that saves me steps and works for my needs is a plus. My ScannerPro app does that for me.

However if I had found a document that I wanted to display in a family tree book or to share with others, I would have used the FHL Scanners.

James, I wish I could put the best image I scanned on my blog for you to see, I think you'd be surprised at how clear it is. I'd send it to you via email if you wanted to drop me a note with your private email addy. Send to (replace AT with @ of course)

I am sorry I didn't explain myself better in my blog, and I certainly didn't mean to sound like I was saying that the iPhone or the ScannerPro app was equal to or better than the FHL scanners.

Tommy said...

dropbox is fully functional at the library.

Michelle Goodrum said...

This is an excellent post. Since I am hoping to soon be the owner of an iphone I am especially interested in the ScannerPro for the iphone. However, I am having trouble getting my brain around this concept of scanning a document from microfilm using your iphone. Could you explain a little?

I've used a camera to photograph images on the microfilm reader but the ScannerPro looks like it probably works better. I just don't "get" it. Thanks!

a3Genealogy, Kathleen Brandt said...

I didn't see this kind of app on Android (4G).I like the idea of scanning, sending and filing, vs. copying and hope you land with it!
Thanks for sharing.