The latest on real estate recordings and new technology from the Middlesex North Registry of Deeds in Lowell
This is the first chance I’ve had to write about the new version of masslandrecords.com which was made available to the public alongside the “classic” (or existing) version of MLR. Please take some time to test drive the new MLR and suppress your natural urge to dislike it because it is unfamiliar and new. If you do give it a fair, unbiased evaluation I am confident that you will quickly discern the major improvements in the new as compared to the old.
Back in the summer of 2002, this registry was the first in the Commonwealth to convert to the ACS computer system. By Labor Day of that year, our entire electronic holdings were available online on an ACS-hosted site. After additional registries’ switched to the ACS system, masslandrecords was born and was physically moved to the Secretary of State’s Office in Boston where it has resided ever since.
From the very beginning, website users have expressed an unreserved preference for the in-registry public search terminals over the web-based search function on masslandrecords. I and my colleagues from other ACS registries have always agreed with this assessment and have been diligently working to make the website function more like the in-registry public access terminals. The new masslandrecords is the result.
Here are some of the items requested by the registers of deeds that have been included in the new masslandrecords: (1) the ability to see all names returned pursuant to a query on the screen at the same time and not just groupings of like names with the number of documents in each group as is the case on the current MLR; (2) the ability to review the data about the document and the document image on the screen at the same time; (3) the ability to easily print the search results, not just the document images; (4) the division of the search functionality into separate pages for “basic” and “advanced.” Frequent users of the registry might not see the value of this last item, but those of us who routinely answer telephone calls from members of the public who are stuck on our website know that the single biggest obstacle to the layman’s use of our website is his propensity to over-populate the search screen and thereby prevent the retrieval of the very document he’s looking for. By initially presenting only a simple name search box, we hope to avoid this kind of consumer obstacle. Full search functionality (fuller than currently exists on MLR) is available on the “search criteria” link on the upper menu bar (in other words, “search criteria” is the “advanced search” we had requested). Finally, despite the presence of links to a “basket” and a “shopping cart”, all data and images on masslandrecords will remain available at no charge. The shopping cart function is built into the system so that registries that already charge for images may continue to do so and still use the same system as everyone else.
So that’s my initial take on the masslandrecords. I think it’s a huge improvement over what we’ve had thus far.
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