Prepared by Elisabeth Lindsay.
To browse is to causally look things over, either randomly to see what's there, or looking with some purpose in mind to see what you can find. One can, for example, browse a shop or browse the Internet. In information management, browse-only or "image only" records or record collections refer to records or record collections that are not indexed. Where indexed records are searchable by keyword, browse-only records are not searchable and are, instead, accessed by browsing.
Genealogy researchers may encounter both types of records when conducting research on the Internet. Because indexing records is a time-intensive process, FamilySearch is also releasing a number of browse-only record collections, in an effort to get more digitized records out to the public sooner. And while browse -only records are not indexed, FamilySearch provides efficient access to these records through waypointing. Eventually, all records will be indexed; in the meantime, researchers have the benefit of browsing digitized records online, as well as on microfilm.
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