Family historians love records of death because they provide a jumping-off point to explore the previous generation. From this registration of the death of John Gaskell in Queensland in 1912, I was able to obtain the names of his parents and then begin the search for records of their marriage, then for the birth of siblings, and so on.
So when the website of the authority responsible for BDM in Queensland (Department of Justice and Attorney-General) moved to a new government services portal yesterday, I was anxious to see what (if any) impact this might have on users.
Obviously the very prominent shopping cart was a pointer that the previously-free site had been commercialised. There was a new function enabling me to purchase digital images of selected historical records for (almost) immediate download and to order printed "replica" certificates. That is clearly a worthwhile service enhancement, although we may quibble about the prices.
It is annoying that instead of being able to link directly to the search page for one type of records, I must go through the Terms and Conditions page every time I connect and take three extra clicks to reach the tool I want; but I can understand that is considered necessary in a commercial environment.
I am sure that I will learn to live with these procedural changes, just so long as the information I need is still readily accessible on the redesigned page.
Did you spot the huge difference? No, not the very tasteful Order Product button. The fact that the maiden name of John Gaskell's mother is not displayed. The content of the single most valuable field in the record (for a family historian) has been truncated to the extent that the information provided is useless!
It is clearly not the case that the information is not in the file. In 2011 when I captured the top screenshot, it was displayed in full without charge. In 2013, I can provide my credit card details and be charged $20 for each and every record that I want to use.
I might become a paying customer; or I might just treat this on-line service as a flawed and incomplete index to the microfiche collection held at my local library where I can read all the fields in full.
Because the capability of new technology is irrelevant without some common sense from those who implement it. That would be smart service, Queensland.