While I have been involved in technology for several decades, I am constantly amazed at the advances made by industry. What’s the latest?
Well, some time ago I learned of an effort by the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana, the Brigham Young Harold B. Lee Library and the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah to jointly work on bringing probably some 100,000 genealogy-related books now out of copyright onto the Internet in a searchable database. Access will be free at Brigham Young’s Family History Archives.
Some years ago members were allowed by the New England Historic and Genealogy Society (NEHGS) to order by mail 3 books and keep them for two weeks. I assume for economic reasons or perhaps because the books were not being well cared for, NEHGS ceased this operation. But in the first 12 months I used this service I ordered and used 62 books from them. Every one of those books provided me with substantial research data on one or more of my ancestors.
Remembering how long it took me to xerox certain pages to be used as Source data, and how long it takes me to use my scanner attached to the printer on my home computer for the same purpose, I said to myself – Wow, it is going to take the consortium a long time to get 100,000 books on the internet.
This week I ran across an advertisement for Kirtas Technologies. They just introduced a 3,000 page per hour scanner which treats books with kid gloves unlike humans and provides software to index every word, name, place or thing in each book using Optical Character Recognition (OCR). The book is then available in PDF with every word indexed.
The teams mentioned above should finish their task in no time. Can you imagine as I can at the change in the genealogical world this will have? When I started my family research in 1995, there was no web browser and a highly specialized, hard–to-use Internet. Feel lucky if you are just starting your family history – your world will open much faster than mine did.