This afternoon I went to the RootsTech, FamilySearch Panel session - 'The Mysterious Life of Record.'
The panel was made up of Rod DeGiulio, Records Division; Trish Melander, Content Strategy; Mario Silva, Field Relations; Niel Oscarson, Records Operations; Tim DeGraw, Indexing, and Kris Whitehead, Process Improvement.
Rod DeGuilo introduced the session and the panel members to the audience.
Trish Melander gave an outline of how FamilySearch seeks out and then prioritises the acquisition of genealogical records throughout the world for publication on the FamilySearch website. Depending on the custodian involved, these records could be located in an archive, church diocese or even in the local priest's home.
Mario Silva, who is currently on location in Brazil, connected online for the presentation and described the process of negotiating the acquisition of records. The usual offer involves free digital preservation of the records, a copy of the digitised records is donated to the custodian of the documents, a backup copy is stored on FamilySearch servers, and FamilySearch gives a commitment to futures updates in technology, e.g. FamilySearch commenced digitising records about 15 years ago. Privacy concerns come into play in the negotiations, and in some cases records may be redacted.
The records are digitised onsite at the custodians premises, this is stipulated by FamilySearch, so there is no external movement of the physical records. Most of the digitised records are copied to Hard Drives and shipped by Fedex to Salt Lake City. In the case of European records there is a pipe dataline which is used to directly deliver the digitised records to Salt Lake City.
It was revealed that FamilySearch has in excess of 300 cameras throughout the world digitising records, with 60 terabytes of data including approximately 3 million images being received in Salt Lake City each week. Neil Oscarson, described how this data then undergoes quality control, high quality images are sent to the FamilySearch servers and bad images which may be out of focus or poor contrast are sent back. Pixel checking is crucial to the quality control process.
FamilySearch then prioritises which projects will be indexed next. Examples were given as to which content may receive a higher priority such as birth records, especially from Brazil may jump to the top of the list, other factors involved in the prioritisation are user needs and workforce capabilities.
Tim DeGraw described the Indexing Setup process, which involves Image Review, Rules, Project Aids, Blocking of images that do not need to be indexed, Quality and then Launch.
Project instructions, Field help, and Handwriting help all play a part.
In 2015 there 300,000 unique indexers who indexed 240 million records from 165 countries and in 23 languages.
A significant number of people in the audience had been involved in indexing and arbitration of FamilySearch projects
Kris Whitehead described FamilySearch's Vision which he called the Next Big Leap and reported that there is a focus on publishing more records faster and that there is a vision of instant publication of records as they are indexed.
© Geoff Mulholland 2013-2016