Archive Talk: Digitization Goals

The Latin American and Caribbean Cultural Heritage Archives, with the Society of American Archivists are to have their annual Roundtable Meetings in August.

The guest speaker this season is Tim Law of the Imaging and Production Manager Caribbean and Latin America at FamilySearch.org, his talk is on:

Digitization Goals and Projects in Latin America

and the Caribbean

Tim Law is Imaging and Production Manager (Caribbean and Latin America) for the Genealogical Society of Utah (GSU), aka FamilySearch, the research and document preservation arm of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Since 1938, GSU has been microfilming vital records from all corners of the globe, making them available to church members and the public through its Family History Centers worldwide. More than 2.4 million reels of vital records have been microfilmed to-date. In 1999, GSU’s FamilySearch Web site was launched, making many of these records more accessible than ever. In its first six months in operation, http://www.FamilySearch.org online databases containing 640 million names received over 1.5 billion hits, and its scope and usage continues to grow.

For the past several years, GSU has gradually ceased its microfilming operations worldwide, and new resources are now being added in digital format. The FamilySearch Record Search Pilot project consists of indexed and scanned images of newly captured records and converted images from its older microfilm records. These digital resources are key resources for researchers, social scientists and historians and are being made available to the public at no charge.

Every year vital records in Latin America and the Caribbean are lost to the devastating effects of heat, humidity, hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanos, sub-standard storage conditions and political instability. For many countries in the region, preservation funding sources are scarce and there is limited access to technical training for digitization projects. By forging collaborations with government archives, churches and historical societies, FamilySearch’s regional digitization services are making a difference by providing affordable access to and preserving the intellectual content of records.

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