Frequently Asked Questions: FamilySearch Affiliate Libraries 

June 6, 2019  - by 

What is a FamilySearch affiliate library? 

An affiliate library cooperates with FamilySearch International to help patrons have fun personal family history discoveries. This outcome is accomplished by affiliate libraries sharing FamilySearch’s digital record collections with patrons locally.

This partnership requires a signed contract and a shared static IP address with FamilySearch, which enables access to additional digital record collections.

What are the benefits of being an affiliate library?

A major benefit of being an affiliate library is access to additional digital records not available outside a family history center or an affiliate library. These digital records include images and names indexes. Currently, there are about 400 million original records available in a digital format that affiliate libraries have access to.

Affiliate libraries also receive a monthly e-newsletter subscription for reference staff to stay abreast of what’s new and the latest tips and tricks for supporting family history patrons.

A smiling family gathers around a computer at a library.

What does it cost to be an affiliate library?

There is no cost to be an affiliate library.

What is a partner library?

A partner library is a library (whether public, special, or university) that participates in FamilySearch’s Family History Book Scanning initiative to preserve local genealogical collections digitally.

FamilySearch provides all the equipment and resources to digitize the books, and the partner libraries help provide content to be preserved digitally, such as books that are in the public domain and have a genealogical or local historical value.

Some partner libraries host a FamilySearch scan center. Others may send books to a center to be scanned.

The contributing library for all books on the website is clearly identified. We also provide monthly statistics on usage for books from a partner library.

Is an affiliate library also a book scanning partner library?

It is possible to be both an affiliate library and a partner library. If you are interested in becoming an affiliate library or a partner library, email

What is controlled digital lending?

Controlled digital lending is an option for some libraries and companies to circulate books digitally that are still under copyright. Currently, FamilySearch does not participate in controlled digital lending.

Does the Family History Library participate in interlibrary loan?

FamilySearch does not participate in interlibrary loans. Visit here to find libraries and organizations that participate in interlibrary loans.

What do the different icons in the FamilySearch catalog mean?

A screenshot of the FamilySearch catalog, including icons on the right describing the different kinds of access to records.

The FamilySearch catalog uses icons to quickly tell the patron the accessibility of the records they are seeking.  

A document icon.

  A document icon means that the resource is only an indexed record or transcription of the document.  

A camera icon.

  A camera icon means you can view the image of the original document from any web-enabled portable device.

A camera with a key on top icon.

A camera with a key icon indicates that access to an image is restricted, such as an image that can be seen only at an affiliate library or a family history center. 

Why are some images restricted to family history centers and not included for affiliate libraries?

FamilySearch publishes copies of records only after gaining permission from the original record custodian (generally a government agency) and faithfully abiding by all the stipulated conditions and applicable laws. To remain in compliance with these agreements and standards, FamilySearch occasionally needs to adjust access to specific records. If you cannot find a record that was previously accessible, it is likely due to stipulations from the record custodians. 

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    1. Richard, can you clarify the question? Are you talking about emails in your personal email, or messages sent through FamilySearch?

  1. I am the Director of our Family History Center in Salt Lake City. What is the difference between a FHC and an affiliate library.

    1. An affiliate library is generally a normal city library that has a few computers dedicated to genealogy work. Affiliate libraries work closely with FamilySearch to upload records. As for a family history center, it is owned and run by FamilySearch.

  2. When using the FS Catalog and FS Digital Library one often gets the message that we don not have the rights to view the resource. It would be most helpful if it were possible to tell which of those items would be viewable at an FHC vs the Family History Library in Salt Lake. I have heard that none of the items so marked are viewable at an Affiliate Library. What about the Partner libraries? It is discouraging to travel to a FHC and find out you still can’t see the desired item. It would seem a simple thing to have an indicator of what it takes to actually see the source.

    1. For records in the catalog (I don’t know about the Digital Library), if you try to access a restricted record you will get a message explaining how to view it. If you get the message “This image is unavailable for online viewing at this time”- that is a bug, refresh (repeatedly if necessary) and you’l l eventually get the message.

      Some records that are available at FHCs are also viewable at Affiliate Libraries, while others are not. The restriction message will always explicitly state if the record is accessible from Affiliate Libraries.

      Also, without clicking on any item in the catalog, you can see whether the record is available at your current location (camera symbol), has additional restrictions (camera with key), or is microfilm only and must be viewed at the FHL (film roll).

  3. What is the difference between a film # and a digital folder #. I can search at the affiliate library with a film # but do not see a search box for a digital folder # ?

  4. I cannot view images from my searches of the index. There is nothing blocked on the website and I have logged in. What can I do to rectify this please?

  5. I have been told that certain collections for New York State are available only at the New State Library in Albany, NY. I do not live near Albany, NY or any place in New York State. Is it possible for me to view these records at a Family History Center in Maryland?

    1. Sara, good question! There are two things I would suggest. First, call the family history center in Maryland and see if they have the records you are looking for. My other suggestion if you don’t want to call is to look in the FamilySearch catalog and look through the records there. On the left hand side you can filter the results based on whether or not the record can be found in a family history center. Good luck!

      1. Thank you. I’m in Pennsylvania and wondering why I would call the Maryland FHC and not the one here in Philadelphia area? I’ll try seeing what I can find in familysearch. I was told by the New York State Library that I had to be from New York and in the New State Library to access the records which seems odd.