This week I used the new FamilySearch.org microfilm (microfiche) ordering system for the first time. As you might expect, like any new service there are a few wrinkles but overall the new system is simply a magnificent advancement. Here’s what I learned with my orders.
If you did not already know, recently FamilySearch.org placed a new online ordering mechanism on their site. According to their site this offering is being rolled out across the world and is currently available in my area (Colorado). Click this link to read the complete announcement.
As most of you know, I do a lot of Prussian research (which means I order quite a few German tapes). What you may not know is that German copyright law is different from that in the US; and as a result, certain tapes are restricted from areas and durations within varying geographies (I will not attempt to explain the details of this set of regulations.) The net result is that I was not able to easily gain access to all the tapes I needed and should have been able to order easily. Certain of the tapes I attempted to order had some form of odd blocking mechanism in place based upon inaccurate criteria. That was the bad news, here is the good news:
- Undaunted by the system (software) denial, I contacted the FamilySearch telephone help desk. I spoke with Sister Jones (not her real name). She patiently listened to my song of woe and contacted the appropriate Archive support help desk. Since the queue was over 10 minutes long, she asked if it was okay to have the Archive/ systems support folks contact me directly, later. I agreed and she gave me my ‘ticket’ number and assured me I’d hear back shortly.
- I did! Within less than 2 hours, I received an email from Elder Bob Snow (not his real name) requesting that I provide some additional information on my account (like my local Family History Center-FHC) and he said once I did that, he’d give me special release on the tapes I wanted.
- I completed the tasks, and sure enough I received another email from Elder Bob Snow stating that my account was now granted specific access to the desired tapes. I could immediately order the tapes I needed, the earlier blocks were removed, an apology was provided as was assurance that they (their software folks) were aware of this problem and this problem was in the queue to be fixed.
Other facts I have learned in this process include:
- Charges for microfilm loans have been lowered from what they were in the manual system. (Hooray!)
- FamilySearch provides highly effective customer oriented support.
- Duration of short term microfilm loans is now at 90 days (an extension from the previous system) and the rates have remained constant.
All in all, this new ordering process is a huge leap forward in accessibility and customer service. Good job FamilySearch! If you are in a served area and would like to test this new service out, or if you are simply curious about what’s coming to your area, here’s the link.