Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Unique Genealogical Highlights of the Brigham Young University Family History Library -- Part One

The Brigham Young University Family History Library is undoubtedly the second largest such library in the world. In addition, many of the items in its vast collections are unique. To say that the resources of the Brigham Young University Family History Library are underused would in itself be an understatement. The library itself is located in the center of the campus and parking is a challenge. But the advantages of having a large, first class university library at your disposal while doing research on genealogical subjects easily outweighs any of the physical limitations of the Library's access.

Some libraries have a tendency to be both geographically limited and parochial. However, the Brigham Young University Family History Library (BYU) has a worldwide reach as part of the University's Harold B. Lee Library. Because of the worldwide nature of its sponsoring institution, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the collections of the Library are surprisingly eclectic and also universal. In addition, the Library has an impressive collection of up-to-date electronic equipment such as scanners, computers and other useful items that are freely available to patrons. Patrons can also order up to two microfilms from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah for free and the microfilm remains permanently in the collection of the BYU Family History Library.

The hours of operation of the Library are also attractive. The Harold B, Lee Library is open from 7:00 AM to midnight weekdays and from 8:00 AM to midnight on Saturdays. When visiting the library, it is always necessary to check the schedule due to the fact that it is an academic library, the entire University is on an academic schedule and the library may be closed due to semester breaks or holidays. The BYU Family History Library is staffed by a volunteer staff of approximately 130 Church Service Missionaries. The missionaries serve from 9:00 AM until 9:00 PM Monday through Thursday and from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM on Fridays. On Saturdays, the missionaries are available from 10:00 AM until 5:00 PM. Although the rest of the library is closed, the BYU Family History Library is open on the second and fourth Sundays of each month from 10:00 AM until approximately 7 o'clock PM except when there is a conflict with a holiday or the university is closed. Click here for the current schedule.

 The BYU Family History Library is located on the second floor of the main library. However, the second floor is underground, and expansion of the library a number of years ago put two huge underground levels adjacent to the existing library. Here is an interior photo of the BYU Family History Library.

As I mentioned, there is an impressive collection of electronic equipment. There are a variety of scanners with the capability of scanning single sheets, multiple sheets, photographs, slides, and books. In addition, there are a number of microfilm scanners that enabled you to adjust microfilm images and save them to a flash drive. All of the equipment is open for free use by the public. However, there are times when the Library is busy and you may have to contact the BYU Family History Library to reserve a time for the use of specific equipment. Here are some photos of the equipment.

The Library has an impressive collection of microforms including both microfiche and microfilm. No one seems to know the exact number of microfiche, however, I estimate there are well over a million. In addition, the BYU Family History Library has over 300,000 rolls of microfilm. Here is a photo of some of the microfiche and microfilm cabinets.

The Library is much more impressive than the photos. Genealogists need to be aware of this nature facility for genealogical research which has been essentially ignored by the larger genealogical community.

This is part one of a series that will highlight the features of the BYU Family History Library.

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