While hearing lots of positive things about the online ordering of microfilms and microfiche that became available in Canada on August 19, we also hear some things that need clarifying:
- “Why do we need Family History Centres now that people can order films online and see them at home?” The new system is for ordering online and viewing can only be done at a Family History Centre.
- “Some people don’t have an email address, so they can’t place an order. What can we do?” This also is a concern with new.FamilySearch.org where people without email accounts are hard to communicate with. (a) Suggest the patron open a free email account (such as yahoo, gmail or hotmail), or (b) Suggest the patron use the email address of a family member (son or daughter) – a family member could even register and do the ordering for them
- “Some people don’t have a credit card or don’t want to use their credit card online. What can we suggest?” (a) Suggest that the patron consider getting a no fee low limit credit card solely for online (Internet and telephone) purchasing - that is what we do, or (b) Suggest the patron have a family member, who is willing use a credit card, create an account and order for them, or (c) get a Visa or Mastercard that you pre-load with money – say $50. I have checked with the FH Dept in SLC and they say these cards are acceptable.
Watch what we say!
Familysearch, new FamilySearch, and now beta familysearch or new familysearch????
Otherwise expressed as familysearch.org, new.familysearch.org and beta.familysearch.org. Doesn’t new.familysearch.org also have a beta version every 3 months?
You can get these mixed up! We are trying to make sure we say “Familysearch.org,” “new dot familysearch dot org,” and “new version of familysearch.” Hopefully this will make it clear which web site we are talking about!
PeterFH is now on Facebook!
Someone said we should do it – and we have! We are now on Facebook! – but not really knowing what we are doing, so please help! We have a group called PeterFH. Please join so we don’t feel lonely – and so we can contact you! For now this is a public group – should it be? For now the same information will appear in both the wordpress and facebook locations, but discussions will be different. Tell us what you think! PeterFH is for FH Consultants and FH Centre Directors primarily – but of course anyone interested in FH is welcome to read it.
We have created a second group called PeterHelpsFH while is more general and will have shorter posts focusing on helping people do their family history – tips, hints and news. Please post any ideas you have! I am going to try to keep posting to just a few sentences!
We want to communicate with as many people as possible.
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The Family History Dept in SLC has informed us that FH Centres across Canada will change to Online Microfilm ordering possibly as early as mid July 2010. FH Centre Directors should have received a letter.
The online ordering system is already in place in Ausralia, New Zealand, and the UK. Eventually it is planned to introduce the system to the United States.
Features of the new system
1. Microfilms and microfiche will be ordered by FH Centre patrons using a secure web site (part of LDS distribution system).
2. FH Centres will have administrative access to the web site to see details of films that have been ordered into their centre, to record that film have been received, later to record that they have been returned and other information regarding films and their centre.
3. After implementation the current Inventory Manager software used by FH Centres will no longer be needed.
What are some of the advantages of the Online system?
1. Anyone – either member of the public or member of the church – will be able to order a film from home instead of going to a FH Centre to fill out a paper form and pay for their order. For some people this could be a huge time and money saver. You will create an account for yourself on the website using your email address and password of your choice (this in not using LDS or FamilySearch Accounts). After you place your order you can check the status on the website – has the order been processed or is it going to be delayed? As currently happens only the FH Centre will be able to tell you that the film has actually arrived. You will still need to go to a FH Centre to view microfilms. As before films should not be removed from the FH Centre.
2. This will eliminate paper forms for placing orders and reduce the amount of money being handled by FH Centres.
3. The FH Dept in SLC will set the price for rentals – there will no longer be any need to try keeping up with the fluctuations in the Canadian dollar exchange rate. There will be one fee for all centres in Canada.
4. FH Centres will be able to upload their current film inventory to the new system and also patron information.
5. The change is taking place over the summer when film traffic at FH Centres is at a low level.
6. There will be no additional fees charged when films being returned are held up at the border. Once the system is told that the film has been returned (i.e. go on the web site and check returned) then there is no penalty for delays in shipping.
This is a major change for FH Centres. Inevitably there will be some challenges especially during the transition. Try to remember that the objective is to improve the system. Be especially kind to your FH Centre Director and their staff during the transition!
1. The new system needs either a credit card or debit card. What if a patron has neither or doesn’t want to order over the Internet? (note: I personally have a separate low limit credit card that I reserve for telephone and Internet ordering).
2. The system will need you to have an email address. What if the patron doesn’t? (note: perhaps they could create a free email account or use the email address of a family member such as a son or daughter). What if the patron doesn’t have a computer at home and can’t access email at the FH Centre?
3. The change is taking place when some FH Centres are closed for summer holidays or on reduced hours. (note: I suppose they will return and then start using the new system).
4. I did not hear any mention of how costs to return films would be dealt with. Some FH Centres use access to shipping companies used by the church and do not pay a fee. Some FH Centres pay postage to send the films to the shipping company used by the church – in those cases sending several films back at once appears to cost the same as sending one film back.
5. The proposed cost for ordering microfiche is high unless you are ordering several microfiche (same fee of $5 whether you order one microfiche or 50). Note: rental fees are not about the cost/value of the product bu the cost of handling and shipping.
While there will definitely be some challenges in the transition, there are many good features to the new system.
No doubt we will learn of other advantages and challenges – so please share your thoughts using the Comments link on this web site.
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