Wednesday, May 14, 2008

FamilySearch Engages FamilyLink.com to Enhance Its Popular Online Catalog



14 May 2008

FamilySearch Engages FamilyLink.com, Inc. to Add Functionality and Enhancements to Popular Online Family History Library Catalog


SALT LAKE CITY-FamilyLink.com, Inc. has teamed with FamilySearch to improve the user experience of the Family History Library Catalog for millions of people worldwide by adding new Web 2.0 functionality and enhancements. The improvements will also enable users to spend research time more efficiently by directing them to the information that will generate the quickest results.

FamilyLink.com's improvements to the catalog will make it searchable by major online search engines and allow users to annotate item descriptions-increasing their accuracy and enriching the content.

FamilySearch's Family History Library Catalog is used extensively by genealogy enthusiasts. It is a window to the vast collection of genealogical resources amassed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints over the past 100 years-millions of microfilms, fiche, and books from 110+ countries throughout the world.

Genealogists use the popular online catalog to see if FamilySearch has any material that can help them in their research. Materials are then requested through one of FamilySearch's 4,500 local family history centers worldwide.

"The enhancements FamilyLink.com will help make to the Family History Library Catalog will increase its usability and exposure. Beginners will find it particularly easier to navigate, and searching and browsing will be more rewarding," said Paul Nauta, Manager of Public Affairs, FamilySearch.

Improved Searching
Upgrades to the Family History Library Catalog will allow it to be combed by the major Web search engines. That means Web searches done by millions of family history enthusiasts who may not have been familiar with the rich content of the Family History Library Catalog will now discover exciting new sources to assist them in their genealogy pursuits.

In a typical search of the Family History Library Catalog, users first identify known facts about a family and then go through a step-by-step process to locate records. Newly integrated FamilyLink.com tools will help users better identify information. Guided searches will help users decide what they want to learn about their families, point them to relevant records, help them obtain and search the records, provide clues to more information, and assist them with the application of the new information.

As part of the enhancement, FamilyLink.com will make searches more useful by allowing the user to browse, sort (by popularity, relevance, most used, etc.), and perform multiple searches. A new "probability engine" feature will calculate the likelihood that a particular source contains the desired item. It will also be able to search across someone's entire family tree to determine which ancestry lines have the highest likelihood of success based on known sources.

"We are excited to work with FamilySearch and to add this extensive catalog to our database collections," said Paul Allen, CEO, FamilyLink.com, Inc. "We have looked at doing this collaboration for quite a while. We will enhance the catalog by connecting it with new innovative tools, along with the best resources of our WorldVitalRecords.com databases, the FamilyLink.com social networking site, and our We're Related application in Facebook. Putting all of these resources together will dramatically change the meaning of 'search' in genealogy."

Social Networking
FamilyLink.com will also add an annotation feature that will encourage user contributions and make the catalog much more dynamic and current. Users will be able to add or suggest a new source, enhance an existing source by adding a place (location) or a time period, and rate and review a source based on its usefulness.

Another enhancement to the Family History Library Catalog will be its increased interactivity. Every entry in the catalog will link to an online or digital source, if available. The user will then be able to link directly to the publisher, buy the book, or search for the nearest copy.

"FamilySearch is excited to work with FamilyLink.com to enhance the Family History Library Catalog. They are leaders in the Social Networking space and will greatly enhance and extend the catalog and its usefulness to millions of people," said Ransom Love, FamilySearch Director of Strategic Relations. "We hope this is the first of many other possible opportunities for FamilySearch to outsource key infrastructure components to innovative companies like FamilyLink.com. They will receive access to key resources to help them grow much quicker and FamilySearch's assets will be upgraded and extended in return."

"We know that search traffic will increase on both the FamilyLink services and FamilySearch's site when users discover the new guided search tools," said FamilyLink.com President David Lifferth. "Last month we had over 700,000 unique visitors and 8.5 million page views. We are predicting that these numbers will more than double after the first quarter of use."

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