New Genealogical Library Dedicated

“New Genealogical Library Dedicated,” Ensign, Jan. 1986, 76–77

New Genealogical Library Dedicated

Calling it a “companion structure to the temples of the Lord,” President Gordon B. Hinckley, at the time Second Counselor to President Spencer W. Kimball, dedicated the Church’s new Genealogical Library in Salt Lake City October 23.

The new library building is located across the street to the west of Temple Square, immediately south of the Museum of Church History and Art. The building houses the world’s largest collection of genealogical records.

President Hinckley, acting under the direction of President Spencer W. Kimball, officiated at the dedication ceremonies and offered the dedicatory prayer on the five-level, 142,000-square-foot building.

President Hinckley noted that the building has been designed so three more stories can be added. “They will be needed. When they will be needed, I don’t know, but I’m satisfied that they will be needed, because the work to be done here encompasses all generations of mankind, and that’s going to take a very large facility.”

The work to be done in the new building “concerns the eternal welfare of sons and daughters of God” throughout all the ages of the earth’s history, President Hinckley said. The pace of this spiritual work is quickening with the placement of temples around the globe. If the temples are to be used as they are intended, genealogy work must go forth at a comparable pace.

“The vision of this work, which has come to us through revelation, is the most universal vision ever … given to any people,” he said. “We have a responsibility toward all generations who have ever lived upon the earth, who now live upon the earth, or who will yet live upon the earth. Our responsibility is as broad as is the fatherhood of God.”

In his dedicatory prayer on the building, President Hinckley petitioned “that it may be used by multitudes to search out their kindred dead that the necessary ordinance work may be carried forward in thy holy houses, with both genealogist and temple worker cooperating to the accomplishment of one glorious end. …

“May this be a day of rejoicing for those beyond the veil, and may their influence be felt in establishing the identity of those sought for, that families might be linked together according to thy divine plan.”

Elder Richard G. Scott of the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy, Executive Director of the Genealogical Department, also spoke, saying the dedication marked the beginning of “a new genealogical era in the Church. This facility has been carefully designed to accommodate the foreseeable technological advances that will in time greatly simplify much of the genealogy work performed by the membership of the Church.”

He said planned development of the Church’s Genealogical Department will “place the decisions on ordinance work for the dead in the hands of local priesthood leaders, as is done for the living, and provide those priesthood leaders with the tools necessary to accomplish that objective.”

He urged Church members to visit branch genealogical libraries to see the new research tools available there and to let dedication of the new central library provide impetus for renewed dedication in their genealogy work.

David M. Mayfield, library director, spoke of the new facility as a hub for 640 branch genealogical libraries in thirty-one countries. These facilities handled “nearly a million patron visits” during 1985. The main library in Salt Lake City circulated three hundred thousand rolls of microfilm to branch libraries during the year and distributed nearly seven and one-half million microfiche sheets.

The main library collection includes 1,450,000 reels of microfilmed genealogical records, the equivalent of six million 300-page bound volumes. The records have been gathered from more than one hundred countries. On microfilm and in bound volumes, the records contain more than two billion names and Family Group Records on eight million families. The library’s collection of records grows at the rate of four thousand rolls of film and four hundred books a month.

The new library provides seating for 963 patrons, an increase of more than 25 percent over the old library facility one block to the east across Temple Square. It also includes staff and administrative offices, small theaters and classrooms, orientation rooms, photo-copy centers on each floor, and a 6,000-square-foot storage area for little-used films and other records. Its temperature and lighting control systems are designed to protect records in the collection from deterioration.

The library is open on Mondays from 7:30 A.M. to 6:00 P.M., Tuesdays through Fridays from 7:30 A.M. to 10:00 P.M., and Saturdays from 7:30 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.

President Ezra Taft Benson

President Ezra Taft Benson awaits sealing of the cornerstone as President Gordon B. Hinckley speaks prior to the dedication services.