I recently returned from a trip to the Family History Library of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City. Salt Lake City is less than an 8 hour drive from Broomfield and is home to the largest genealogical records collection in the world.
The library underwent a major renovation in 2001 focused on updating the technology available in the library. The library is open to the public at no charge.
For those who have never researched in Salt Lake City, the first stop should be at the FamilySearch Center in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building on South Temple Street. This center has about 70,000 Family Histories and over 20,000 records in the Family Group Records Archive to search for previous work done on specific families. They also have 180 computers with access to FamilySearch’s International Genealogical Index (IGI), Ancestral file, Family History Library catalog, and high-speed Internet access. Staff and volunteers are available to help during the center’s hours of Monday through Saturday 9 am to 9pm.
After the initial search is done at the FamilySearch Center, it is time to visit the library which is about two blocks away at 35 North West Temple Street. For first time visitors, I would suggest the Orientation class. These classes are held periodically throughout the day on the first floor to acquaint new patrons with the library.
The library has four floors for researching. The main floor is United States and Canadian books. The books are arranged by state. Specific titles can be looked up in the library catalog. It is also fun to just browse the stacks to see what is available. There is a large collection of maps in cabinets on the far side of the main room. More than 40 computers are on this floor, most with Internet access. All of the work tables have power ports on the top of the tables for laptop computers. The all important lunch room is also on the first floor. The lunch room is the only place you can eat or drink in the building.
The second floor has U.S. and Canadian microfilms and an area for U.S. census records. Films include many primary sources such as vital records, land records, probates, wills, and church records. It’s like having several repositories in one place. While I was there this past trip, I researched areas in Missouri, New Hampshire, Illinois and Massachusetts. This floor has been organized to make things completely accessible. The big open-space concept makes it convenient to move between the microfilm, microfilm readers, computers, and copiers. The films and fiche are arranged numerically in cabinets and the middle of the room is filled with computers. The computers are like those at the Joseph Smith building with high speed Internet access, as well as access to all of the CD-ROM products released by the Family History Library. The Internet access allows personal e-mail and subscription databases to be accessed. All of the chairs are new and ergonomic. This is a relief when sitting and looking at films for hours.
There is a copy area on each floor where copies from microfilm are 23¢ and copies from books are 5¢. Copies are purchased with a debit card which can be purchased from machines placed on each floor. The debit card is 60¢ and can be used indefinitely by adding money to it on the same machines. It is a good idea to write your name on the debit card so that if it is lost or left in a machine, it can be returned.
Basement 1 (B1) level has the European, Scandinavia, Latin American and International films and books and Basement 2 (B2) has the British Isles films and books. Each floor has their own copy center, microfilm and microfiche readers, computers and reference desk.
The library is handicap accessible. It has handicap microfilm readers and also readers for left handed patrons. Each floor has restrooms that are handicap accessible and there are three elevators to move between the four floors. There are no outside steps at the entrance to the library from the street.
While working at the library ask lots of questions. There are staff people and many volunteers working throughout the building to assist researchers. Ask the same question of two or three different people and compare the answers. Get up and get a drink at the water fountain at least every two hours. This will keep you hydrated and wards off fatigue.
Library hours are 7:30am to 5:00pm Mondays, 7:30am to 10:00pm Tuesday through Saturday, closed Sundays. If you want to continue researching on Mondays when the library closes at 5:00pm, the Joseph Smith Building is open until 9pm.
If you can’t get to Salt Lake City, many of the Family History Library resources are available through local Family History Centers. Most of the films can be ordered for a minimal fee. Books can not be ordered unless they are available on microfilm. There are three Family History Centers in close proximity to Broomfield: Louisville, Arvada and Northglenn. Check the yellow pages under “Churches” for the one most convenient to you.