November 22, 2017

Breaking News: Microfilm Lending Expiration Date Extended

download backblazeI’ve heard from many of you since publishing my interview with Diane Loosle, Director of Patron Services at FamilySearch on the topic of FamilySearch ending its microfilm lending program on August 31, 2017. As fate would have it, just as the interview published, the unexpected happened – microfilm ordering capability ceased. That was when emails like this one started to arrive in my inbox:

Last Monday there was a computer software upgrade (or downgrade as I call it) in the FamilySearch catalog system which now prevents ordering of a mass number of microfilms ahead of the deadline this week…I am not confused about what is going on. I volunteer at an FHC and to date we have ordered some 600 films to complete our collection (these records will never be digitized.)  We have ordered all the vital records we can. We have more than 9000 films at our little FHC, but now we want to order the Naturalization records and the system says “Film #—- does not exist.”  This is happening on a global scale and even with films we already own. German, Lithuanian, Swedish, Chicago, Sacramento, Dallas, you name the city, this error message is showing up…Since you had a conversation with Diane recently, is there a way you can share this with her and find out how we can address this stumbling block. This is now a week old…
Many of you asked  me to reach out to Diane, which I did. And thanks to your involvement, I received the following from Diane this morning:

Diane Loosle, Director of Patron Services at FamilySearch

“There was an update to the software that had unintended consequences in that it broke the online film ordering systems connection to the FamilySearch Catalog. People were unable to order the films they desired for a little less than one week. This timing of course was very unfortunate. The situation has been remedied in the software so orders have resumed and because of this issue, the decision has been made to extend the film ordering deadline by one week to September 7th to make up for the week that the software was down. We apologize for the inconvenience this has caused people and are anxious to ensure that they are able to order the films they desire. We now need everyone’s assistance to get the word out to their friends that if they experienced this issue in trying to order they will be able to get their orders in now.

Thanks for your help on this Lisa. This was an incredibly unfortunate event with timing which couldn’t have been worse. This is of course and evolving situation at this point. I will keep you posted if anything else changes. The software that we use for this is quite archaic, a real dinosaur in the technology world. We are literally praying that it will hold up under the additional load. While we don’t anticipate any further problems, it is possible, so I will keep you in the loop should anything happen” -Diane

As you can hear, it was genealogical serendipity struck in an unusual, and unfortunate way. But as soon as FamilySearch became aware of the problem, they went into action. I’m pleased and grateful that they have extended deadline, and that they make millions of genealogical records available to us every day. And I’m grateful to you, our Genealogy Gems community for getting into gear and bringing the situation to the forefront.
About Lisa Cooke

Lisa Louise Cooke is the Producer and Host of the Genealogy Gems Podcast, an online genealogy audio show and app. She is the author of the books The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, Mobile Genealogy, How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers, and the Google Earth for Genealogy video series, an international keynote speaker, and producer of the Family Tree Magazine Podcast.


  1. Thanks, Lisa.
    I had contacted Salt Lake, asking the same question, and received a flippant response, that the deadline was firm. Basically, tough luck.
    Glad someone responsible gave a better answer, but we shouldn’t have to do battle to receive an intelligent response.

  2. Ann, I called and reported the problems too. I also received a flippant respone and at one point an email response in all caps! I was able to order my films Tuesday and glad they did the right thing and extended the end date.

  3. Thanks for this update! I was able to place one last order. I just hope the order is honored. I was told at my FHC that all of the orders that had been placed by patrons of this FHC (well before the deadline) were being canceled by FS without any explanation. I’m now expecting to hear that my order will be canceled and I won’t be able to access the films I need for my research. I will be incredibly disappointed if that happens.

  4. Lisa, where is the little FHC with 9000 films? I wanted to order a few films, but with the flooding, not sure how to get to the fhc to view them, regardless of when they could make it here. So have decided that I’ll just have to make an additional trip to SLC this year.

  5. Lisa, in this article (Breaking news on FamilySearch microfilm lending!) there is a phrase that says, “These microfilms will never be digitized.” Does that mean that there are some records we will never have access too? What if we hire help from Salt Lake City workers…will they have access to those records? And how will the public know which records will never be digitized? Would we have to travel to the original source to peruse them?

  6. Peter DePippo says:

    Ms. Cooke, I was wondering when access might be granted to those un-indexed images that can only be viewed ( theoretically ) at an affiliate library? Must I be a LDS member to view these images? Also, I read somewhere that any films that were ordered in the last 5 years will have the images available online as of today. Or was it that these will be digitized first?

    Thanks for your help. Regards, Peter D

  7. Peter DePippo
    I am not an LDS member. I visit my local FHC on a regular basis and view the images, without issue.
    My local public library is also an affiliate, and I can view the images there, too, without issue.

  8. Diane Loosle addresses these questions in her audio interview. In summary, films that can’t be digitized for contractual reasons will still be available at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. As they work through the collection, they are reviewing the contractual requirements and I would expect the catalog will be updated, indicating the status.

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