As every Irish genealogist must surely have heard over the last month or so, the National Library of Ireland plans to upload scanned images of its Roman Catholic parish register microfilms this summer (see blogpost).
The announcement cued a loud 'Hurrah', until researchers joined the dots of the 'small print' and realised that, without an index, the images would not, on their own, be of much use or value to the millions of descendants of emigrants who don't know their family's parish of origin in Ireland.
A slightly less enthusiastic but generally upbeat 'Hurrah' followed as researchers spotted the inevitable next step... downloadable pdfs freely online = easy conversion to digitised and indexed images online = big bucks for the big money database providers.
The money trail leads to the simple conclusion that in next to no time (hah!) the registers will be fully searchable online. There will be a price, of course, but nearly every one of us coughs up at least now and again for access to the records we want for our hobby, so no big deal.
So it's all going to be alright then.
Not everyone sees it that way. RootsIreland certainly doesn't, but that's no surprise since it's the organisation that stands to lose most in the longer term from the development (if only because it is unlikely to de-dinosaur, adapt, and rise to the challenge presented).
Also not celebrating is Paul Gorry, a much-respected genealogist; author; lecture, course and conference organiser; and member of the Association of Professional Genealogists in Ireland. On his Facebook page today, Paul has his say about the National Library of Ireland's actions. He raises some complex issues that many may not have considered and presents a very different perspective of the subject. It's long, well-written and worthy of a read.