The population of the Salt Lake Valley dominates the area. But the Salt Lake City, UT Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of the smaller communities in the Salt Lake Valley, is ranked as the 48th largest in the nation. Provo, Utah, where I live, is located in Utah Valley, the next larger valley to south of Salt Lake City. For comparison, we moved from the Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ Metropolitan Area which is ranked number 12 in the nation. The Provo-Orem, UT Metropolitan Statistical Area is ranked number 93 in the nation. But the Provo area has a larger population than other more prominent towns such as Spokane, Washington and is about the same size as Augusta, Georgia.
From our perspective we moved from the big city to the country. However in Mesa, Arizona where we used to live, we were only about a five to ten minutes' drive from the edge of the city and the open desert. In Provo we live across the street from the National Forest Boundary.
Both the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah and the Brigham Young University Family History Library in Provo, Utah are operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For many years now, the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah has been acknowledged as the largest such facility in the world. The collection includes over 2.4 million rolls of microfilmed genealogical records; 727,000 microfiche; 356,000 books, serials, and other formats; over 4,500 periodicals and 3,725 electronic resources.
As I began to compare the two libraries, I wrote about my opinion that the BYU Family History Library was the second largest family history library in the world. Recently, I read several references that seemed to reinforce that opinion. At number 29, the BYU Harold B. Lee Library is ranked among the top 50 university libraries in the United States by CollegeRank.net putting it above many other very prominent universities. I found that in 2012, the Harold B. Lee Library had been ranked number three in the nation after Harvard and Columbia in the Princeton Review. The Princeton Review currently ranks the library as number 19 in the nation. I also found that the Harold B. Lee Library had been ranked number 1 in 2004 and number 4 in 2007.
It has become clear to me that I have ended up working in a world class library. But what I found interesting is that in the larger genealogical community and even here in Provo, the BYU Family History Library and the Harold B. Lee Library itself are relatively unknown and vastly underused. It is probably important to point out that the BYU Family History Library is part of the university. It is not a FamilySearch Center or FamilySearch Library. It is maintained, operated and staffed by BYU employees. There are approximately 130 Church Service Missionaries that voluntarily staff the Family History Library in addition to the employees. My wife and I are two of those 130 missionaries. The main objective of the library is to support the student population and we certainly do that. But we also have a definite outreach to the community, state and the world.
One example of the Library's efforts to extend its reach is the current series of online, live webinars. These presentations have been ongoing for some time now and the recorded sessions are being posted regularly to the BYU Family History Library YouTube Channel. One recent video gave a pretty good view of the part of the Library where we work. This overview begins to explain why I maintain that by being part of this world-class library, it enables the Family History Library to be the second largest such facility in the world.