One of my favorite assignments in British Reference area of the Family History Library is working on the counter; I love helping library patrons. And with a little bit of help from me, they are off and running, and as excited as I am about family history.
However, more and more I see the need to educate patrons to be more “computer-wise.” We always encourage them to copy the original records so that when they go home, they will have documentation for their family history research. However, most of them are still paper-copying these records and then carting them home, when they could easily scan the documents to a flash drive for free. The machines in the Access areas of the Family History Library will scan documents both from microfilm and microfiche, and then the patron has an electronic copy to take home.
Copying these records onto a flash drive is quite easy once you are brave enough to try it. When the image is in front of you on the computer screen, you can either go up to the File menu and select Save As or you can right-click on the image and select the Save option from there. The computer will then find the location to save the file, so make sure that you already have the USB drive plugged into the computer and then choose that drive. At this time, you may also want to rename the image so that it is clear to you what the image contains.
Later, when you are at home, you can load the image into a folder on your personal computer. From there you can zoom in on difficult words, crop the image, and tweak the quality for easier readability. This process also allows you to e-mail the record to other family members and download it on shared Internet databases for collaboration purposes. And the next time you come to the Family History Library or a family history center, instead of hauling all of your paper records, you can simply bring your flash drive and have it all there to refer to and share with the research consultants at the counter.
For more information on how to use a USB/Flash Drive, please visit the FamilySearch Research Wiki at http://wiki.familysearch.org. Type “USB” in the search box and the first result will be an article entitled, “Step-by-Step Using a USB & U3 Flash Key.”
For convenience and flexibility, using a flash drive to copy original records is the way to go!