GenSeek Wish List

Wednesday, 29 Apr 2009 | by Mark Tucker

GenSeek logo

GenSeek is the Web 2.0 replacement for the Family History Library Catalog. It is expected to release soon, but has no published release date.

I have been thinking of a common way genealogy researchers use the FHLC and how it could be improved in GenSeek. Before a trip to the Family History Library, many researchers use the FHLC to find sources they want to examine. Often each detail page is printed off and taken to the library. Some choose to sort the papers in the order they want to perform their research. At the library, these papers can be used to write notes about what was found or not found in each source.

Now I know that GenSeek is intended to include more than the sources at the FHL, but I think the following features would be useful is the broader sense as well.

What if each researcher had an account on GenSeek. When they logged in, they would be able to search the catalog for sources they are interested in researching and add them to a named group of sources. Maybe we could call this a research project or a research plan.  We could choose to make this project public to all GenSeekers, limited access to specific GenSeekers or keep it private for our own personal use. This research project is the virtual equivalent of the stack of papers we used to take to the library. Now there might be some additional information that we want to track in our research project like research objective, primary person, alternate surnames, locations, and comments. We also might want to order the list of sources a certain way. With our research project all online, we can now visit the library and not have to take the stack of papers with us.  We can access our projects from a laptop or a computer at the FHL. But what about taking notes? Well, as we access each source from our online research project in GenSeek, we are able to add notes, date researched, and any other information. Just like an online research log. Finally, we would want the ability to export the information from a GenSeek project as a spreadsheet and PDF document.

Now GenSeek becomes not only the place where we find genealogy sources but it becomes our research plan and research log!

Imagine the additional social networking capabilities with research projects.  I could enlist family members to work on the same research project or find cousins or others researching the same sources that I am.

My wish is that the designers and developers of GenSeek 1.0 have anticipated this scenario and these features will be included in the first version. If not, I really hope that it is included in the next release.

What would you like to see in GenSeek 1.0?


  1. Mark, I love the ideas you’ve proposed here!

    Comment by Miriam Robbins Midkiff — 29 Apr 2009 @ 7:00 pm

  2. Why not go the next step and have the research tasks in my family tree software, which currently creates tasks for specific repositories, then generate tasks in GenSeek?

    Comment by Carole Riley — 29 Apr 2009 @ 7:58 pm

  3. Sounds just like what already has. In fact we call them research projects too, complete with privacy settings and the ability to track your research logs right in the research project. As soon as GenSeek releases their API, we will interface to it so that genealogists can populate a list of sources directly from the family history library catalog.

    Comment by Michael Martineau — 29 Apr 2009 @ 9:28 pm

  4. These are great ideas. Mark, thanks for getting the ball rolling here. Please keep the ideas flowing. Fortunately, I can say that many of these concepts are already included (although they will not all be available in the first release). You can also send me ideas directly jim (at) or to our Twitter account @genseek. You can follow us on Twitter: Thanks!

    Comment by Jim Ericson — 30 Apr 2009 @ 9:43 am

  5. Good ideas, Mark.

    Michael’s comment about interfacing online family trees with the GenSeek API may be the kick that makes the online family trees the standard application rather than genealogy software on your computer.

    Programs like Gensmarts, and the software programs that link to them, may retool and use GenSeek extensively to suggest specific books, microforms or databases to search in..

    Keep thinking!

    Comment by Randy Seaver — 30 Apr 2009 @ 9:50 am

  6. As a researcher, you want to include information sources, including GenSeek, into the research project in your application, where all your other genealogy data is, and where your To-Do list integrates with it all. That could be an online application instead of a desktop application, say FamilyHistoryLink, but you sure want to keep it with your data as a whole.
    It makes little sense to track sources you want to consult disconnected from the rest of your research project, nor do you want the hassles of tracking these in more than one place.

    You should manage your research project in your own database and application. There is no need for a separate online tool to track sources that you want to consult, as you can bring your data an application to a library on a laptop or USB stick already. That will work even if there is no Internet connection. And if there is one, you can access your online genealogy application.

    GenSeek will offer more than a traditional catalogue. For example, one way that GenSeek will improve upon the current Family History Library Catalogue is that it will link to Google Books if a book is available there.

    GenSeek does offer an interface that third parties can use to consult its index from within their application (where the entire research project is). That interface can be used by both desktop and online tools. Thus, FamilyLink could very well offer the online experience you are after by integrating GenSeek search into (the research manager of) its FamilyHistoryLink application.

    Comment by Tamura Jones — 30 Apr 2009 @ 11:19 am

  7. Hi Mark… interesting suggestions. Most of the features you’re talking about will be available very shortly on Live Roots… today I released a full Family History Library Catalog search (Place, Surname, Keyword, Title, Author and Subject searches) on and in the Live Roots for Facebook application. (To be announced at NGS 2009: the “Follow” feature which will let you tag resources into “Projects”). The Team Roots service from Genealogy Today has already been integrated into Live Roots, and it is that account that you’ll be able to link all this stuff to.

    Comment by Illya Daddezio — 1 May 2009 @ 4:06 pm

  8. Many libraries use Polaris which allows me to email myself a Bibliography of things to research on my next trip. At a minimum I hope Genseek allows me that. Cutting and pasting from the current library catalog entries is a pain!
    Keep the ideas flowing!

    Comment by Jeri Steele — 7 May 2009 @ 11:31 am

  9. [...] Library Catalog entries available with all of this functionality. But of course, that’s where Genseek is supposed to come in, [...]

    Pingback by Genlighten Blog — Genealogy Documented » Blog Archive » 52 Weeks to Better Genealogy Challenge #5: Trying Out — 4 Feb 2010 @ 9:18 pm

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