Technology and Me

Seems like I am always in a hurry–and technology is supposed to speed up my activity to match the time I have to spend on specific tasks. However…

Seems like I spend more time trying to be fast and efficient than ever before.

On that sour note, let me describe just one of my last 6 days at the Family History Library. Figured I had at least 7 hours research time. A really challenging Tennessee problem had crossed my desk. The FHL has about 20 book titles received since 2010–all new studies and record extracts. Tennessee is a difficult place to research at best because of all the record loss. These volumes were compiled to by-pass at least some of that record loss.

The volumes I needed were gone from the shelves–all 20 of them. The Library has been digitizing books as fast as their volunteers can handle the load. Plastic bins full of books are pulled from the shelves and sent to digitizing centers. Most of the older books are still on the shelves.The new ones have been pulled to acquire copyright clearance before being photographed.

To complicate matters, when photographed, the bindings are split so that the pages lie flat for a clearer image. Then the books themselves are retired to a storage area, and you find the newly digitized book online for use under whatever agreements the Library could negotiate. Some books can only be seen in Salt Lake at the main Library. Some books can also be consulted at local centers or branch libraries. Some are available for use on your home computer. Well and good. Space is freed for other books or for removal of shelving and installation of more computers.

Its just that to remove all the pertinent books that I required–removing them all at once, with no way to consult the information, was a blow to my research effort. And since the computer system was also on the fritz, there was no way to consult WorldCAT to determine where other copies of those books were available to me. [Later I discovered that the books are not available at any other library in Utah or Southern Idaho.]

Tracking all of this information required two missionaries on the 3rd Floor of the Library and one missionary looking in high density for titles that may not have left the building yet and might be hiding. And me. Two and 1/2 hours later, I knew the answer of the missing books. Unavailable.

Well, thought I, check Amazon to see if copies were available for purchase–they were. At $235.00 and $285.00 each! A few of the volumes are now out of print and unavailable.

Google to the rescue? No. Since the books have been published after 2010, none have been reproduced online at other sites. Available for sale? No. Their value to current owners is such, that private sites do not yet offer copies for sale.

In all of this disheartening work, technology has been invaluable–just no books to search and another hour gone.

Publishers websites do include surname lists of those persons who are mentioned or documented in some of the missing volumes. Just no information on who is doing what to whom! Finding the names you are looking for in books that are gone just adds to my frustration.

Then as I got into the elevator at the end of the day, a staff member got in behind me. “Did you find what you were looking for today?” she asked with a smile? I grinned as I always do when asked that kind of question–and replied, “I always find something when I come to this library.” And I do. Always. Even with the new books gone, I bring more than one problem to work on, and I go home with positive answers! And a smile on my face for all of the persons who work so hard each day to provide the answers I need in my research.

Your favorite genealogist, Arlene Eakle

PS Another technology challenge: I’m still struggling to write these blogs–required to change all my passwords and unable to access any of my content and writings is almost more troublesome than being stopped in research access. Kathryn and I will try to solve the problem so that I can share the exciting parts of my work and breakthroughs in research problems that have universal application.


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