Is Your Family in the Updated Digital Library?

April 5, 2019  - by 

Where can you go to find more information about your family? Have you ever tried the FamilySearch Digital Library?

The digital library on is a powerful resource for finding family history books and learning about families and places all over the world. Although the digital library has been around for awhile, new changes and updates have made it easier than ever to find exciting and enriching details for your family story.

Why the Change?

Looking at new features in the FamilySearch digital library.

The new FamilySearch Digital Library system provides a more modern searching and viewing experience. It is easier than ever to type in your family names, locate a book or publication, and quickly find information you’re looking for.

The new system includes the following:

  • Digital books that are full-text searchable.
  • Filterable search results to help you focus quickly on the most relevant books.
  • Images and pages that load quickly.
  • Options for users to adjust the size, contrast, and orientation of an image to read documents more easily.
  • Digital page turning that feels more like a real book.
  • A new look and feel to the library as a whole!

What Can You Find in the FamilySearch Digital Library?

The FamilySearch Digital Library offers a collection of more than 440,000 digitized genealogy and family history books and publications. Here, you can dive into family histories, county and local histories, genealogy magazines, gazetteers, and even medieval histories and pedigrees!

How to Access the Digital Library

Visit, and click Search in the top menu. Then, in the drop-down menu, click Books. You can also go directly to the new URL— The content of the digital library is freely viewable, but you may need to create a free FamilySearch account and sign in to view images. On the home page of the digital library, you will see a simple search bar. Here, you can type in a surname, historical events, groups of people, or names of places. Go ahead! Try typing in one of the surnames from your family tree now! Then, click Search.

Searching for a family history book. FamilySearch Digital Library.

Using the Digital Library

To test the updated digital library, I searched my own surname—Bowser. In the list of publications, I was happy to find a book about my Bowser family titled The Bowser Family History.

To view the digital images of the book, I clicked the title of the book.

Clicking on the title of a family history book.

The next screen showed me the details of the book. Then, to see the book, I clicked View All Pages.

View all pages in a book from the FamilySearch digital library.

When you are looking at a book, an information panel shows on the left. The book pages are shown on the right.

FamilySearch digital library book interface.

You can click the left or right arrows to turn the pages of the book.

You will notice that the toolbar across the bottom of the screen has several icons. To learn what they do, hover your mouse over each one. You can open and close the information window, change how the pages turn, view pages side-by-side, and toggle other viewing options. You can also zoom in, zoom out, adjust the contrast, and more to read images better. The new FamilySearch Digital Library interface is very user friendly!

While reading a book, you can also search the text of the book by clicking the search icon in the toolbar. This search can help you quickly narrow down the pages that might have your family information. I know that my Bowser family lived in Ohio. When I typed “Ohio” in the search field, the system pulled up 60 results in this book.

Search within a family history book from the FamilySearch digital library.

So what are you waiting for? Search for your family in the digital books and publications at the FamilySearch Digital Library, and, in the comments below, let us know what you found.

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  1. It would be lovely to be able to read the books being offered online BUT I find the digital library will be no use to me because of the 10 books I opened each one said “Due to copyright restrictions, this book cannot be viewed online”.
    Even when the Access level was public.

  2. Sorry I have been able to view some books now. I had simply clicked on the first link in your post, not having read down far enough to see I had to go through Family Search.
    So this is very good. For my Fitzsimmons family from Meath, the top 2 books I would have love to have read but both were Protected so I couldn’t gain access to them.
    Why oh why does the owner want to restrict views of the book.

    Can FamilySearch beg and plead with some of those people to open their books.
    Is there another way I can access the books?

  3. Don’t like this new search engine. There is no way to refine my search manually (such as if I know the author’s name). If my author’s name doesn’t show on their drop-down choices (which all choice lists seem random not alphabetical), I get too many hits for my Davis family. I even put in a specific search such as “david d. davis and cedy davies book of remembrance” but still got all 364,120 books that have “Davis”.

    Lucky for you that your family name is much less common.

    1. We are working on an advanced search screen. In the mean time, try putting quotes around a name: “James Richardson”. For author, try: Creator.title:richardson (case-sensitive on “Creator.title”). For specific last names, use: Subject:richardson (“Subject” is case sensitive, but the names are not). For the title of the book, use: Title:richardson (“Title” is case sensitive). To get really advanced, use AND and OR, case sensitive: Title:richardson AND Creator.title:smith. We have lots more coming to help with better searching!

      1. Thank you Jason! That’s great to know!!
        Another friend already showed me how surrounding a simple name search with double quotes will help immensely, which it did.
        But tonight I am getting “502 Bad Gateway nginx” from the get-go.

  4. I tried it with two of my surnames of Fredrickson and Hartley and received so many hits, about 250,000 and 45,000, that it was overwhelming and too much data to search, so it seemed hopeless.

  5. Using Chrome browser, icons at bottom are almost invisible. Need best Chrome font and other settings for large, high contrast font and icons!

  6. When I searched for a surname, the results included a book but the “Access Level” is “Protected”. “Due to copyright restrictions, this book cannot be viewed online.” What steps are required to see that book?

  7. So this is what I got for the book I wanted “Due to copyright restrictions, this book cannot be viewed online.” 🙁