“Giving the Past a Future: The New Church History Library,” Ensign, Oct. 2009, 38–45
“A people can be no greater than its stories,” said Elder Marlin K. Jensen of the Seventy, Church Historian and Recorder. The Church now has a brand-new resource to help tell its story better than ever before. The Church History Library, dedicated in June, is a significant upgrade from the previous Church History Library, which was located in the east wing of the Church Office Building in downtown Salt Lake City.
“Our previous facility wasn’t designed as an archival storage space,” said Brent Thompson, director of records preservation for the Church History Department. “It didn’t have fire protection; it didn’t have seismic protection; and it didn’t have adequate temperature, humidity, and air quality control. We had outgrown the space, both from a staff perspective and, more importantly, from a records perspective. This new building provides solutions to these problems.”
With almost 230,000 square feet of operating space, the library houses expanded research facilities, temperature- and humidity-controlled storage spaces, and state-of-the-art preservation systems. It is also home to nearly 25 miles of shelves containing books, journals, documents, photographs, microfilm, and other preserved media.
Ample space inside the library also allows its 125 employees and nearly 200 full-time and Church-service missionaries to work effectively. These staff members provide valuable research, preservation, development, and administrative services in managing the library’s collections and assisting patrons who visit the facility.
The building provides more than just extra space and updated preservation technology. “Our new library is designed to provide an open and welcoming atmosphere for all to interact with Church history,” said Patrick Dunshee, manager of marketing and communications for the Church History Department. “Our desire is to help patrons increase their faith as they connect to their past.”
The building was designed to visually complement the Conference Center, which is across the street to the west. Together the two buildings present a reminder of the great strength of the members of the Church; while hundreds of thousands fill the Conference Center each year to participate in general conference and other events, the Church History Library houses the records of great faith and service from Saints all over the world.
The library is a short walk from the Church’s other historical and research facilities on Temple Square. Its close proximity to the Family History Library and Church History Museum allows patrons convenient access to many of the Church’s historical treasures.
Elder Jensen said, “The primary purpose of Church history is to help Church members build faith in Jesus Christ and keep their sacred covenants.” The new Church History Library, with updated resources and advanced facilities, will help collect, record, and preserve the stories of the Church and its members better than ever before, protecting sacred resources for many generations to come.