Managing Microfilm in Family History Centers


Family history centers, including FamilySearch affiliate libraries, provide digital access to the majority of FamilySearch’s vast collection of records.

In addition to digital records, some centers and libraries continue to maintain microfilm collections on extended loan from FamilySearch. The following guidance is provided to help staff manage film collections, including microfilm and microfiche. (For more information about the transition to digital from microfilm access, see Digital Records Access Replacing Microfilm.)

Managing Films in the Online Film Admin System

It is important for each center to maintain an accurate inventory of their microfilm collection.

  • You should use the Online Film Admin to manage your film inventory.
  • Microfilm holdings may be displayed in the Catalog on FamilySearch so that patrons can see which films are available in a center. If your center is not included in the list under “Search these family history centers” in the Catalog, make sure your inventory is current, and contact FamilySearch Support to request to be added.
    Online Film Ordering Guide: Use this user guide for instructions on keeping your film inventory up to date. (Please note that you can no longer order microfilm, but this guide provides the instruction for maintaining your film inventory.)

Deciding When to Keep Films

Under the direction of local ecclesiastical or affiliate library leadership, you may determine whether to keep the films that are already on extended loan or decide to return them. When deciding whether to maintain microfilm collections, consider the following:

  • If the film is available online, whether on or another no cost website, centers are encouraged to return it.
  • If the film is not online and patrons are still using it, it is recommended to keep the film. In the rare event of a center closure, or if a center is otherwise considering removing films that aren’t online, staff should consult with local leadership and FamilySearch Support about the option to relocate the films to a neighboring center.
  • Provide the environment and resources needed to provide the best experience for families and individuals to receive personalized help with discovering their family history.

You have the option to retain part of your microfilm collection while returning films that are available online or otherwise not needed. (See Instructions for Returning Films below.) As more images are published online, you should re-evaluate whether to retain microfilm collections.

As indicated in the Microfilm Use Agreement found in the above guide, FamilySearch microfilms and microfiche are on loan and are the property of FamilySearch. Centers may not donate, give away, sell, or relocate microfilms or microfiche to another facility, individual, or organization. If approved by local leadership, an exception may be granted to relocate microfilms to another local family history center or FamilySearch affiliate library by contacting FamilySearch Support. (See Relocating Films to Another Center below.)

Instructions for Returning Films

In most cases, the process for returning films is the same as it has been in the past. Instructions for returning films in North America and Europe can be found in the Family History Center Operations Guide. In other areas, if you are not familiar with the process for returning films, please contact FamilySearch Support. Also contact Support if you are returning more than 500 films at one time in North America.

Microfiche should be handled the same as microfilm. As an exception, the following microfiche sets may be discarded:

  • International Genealogical Index (IGI),
  • Family History Library Catalog (FHLC),
  • Accelerated Indexing System (AIS),
  • Restricted Microfilm List.

The Family History Department does not provide boxes for returning films. To ship films, use the boxes in which the microfilm arrived or any other sturdy cardboard box that will not break open. Each box needs a separate shipping label.

Relocating Films to Another Center

With approval from local leadership, contact FamilySearch Support for permission and instructions to relocate films to another family history center or FamilySearch affiliate library. (See Deciding When to Keep Films above for guidance on the decision to relocate.) When films are moved to another center, the film inventory should be updated in the Online Film Admin Panel.

Microfilm and Microfiche Readers

You should coordinate with local leaders and the facilities manager for removal of unneeded microfilm and microfiche readers and cabinets. If there is a local entity that would like them, readers and cabinets may be donated. Cabinets may be recycled. FamilySearch affiliate libraries are responsible for handling their own equipment and furnishings.

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