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How to do research in the Family History Library
in Salt Lake City, Utah
by Gary L. Foster

4.  Where to start in the Library

Perhaps the best place to begin your use of the Family History Library is to check on the times and days they are open.  Click here to verify their Holiday Schedule for 2008.  The use of the library is free and the public is welcome.  Then stay nearby in a fully furnished condo or hotel so you can walk through Temple Square on your visits to the library or park your car close to the library.  You can even print this area parking map and bring it with you.

You don't have to be a Mormon (member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) to use the facility, and you will not receive any type of religious solicitation if you visit.  The Latter-day Saints believe that families are eternal and encourage members to identify their deceased ancestors. They wish to share the family history information they have collected with people of all faiths.  Your religious beliefs will not be an issue, and no missionaries will come to your door because you used one of their facilities.

The full-time and part-time professional staff and well trained volunteers are happy to help you with your research questions.  They cannot do your research for you, but can help you use the library's facilities, suggest records for you to search and answer basic questions such as how to get started, where a town is located, and what records are available and how to use them but you will be doing the actual research.

Visitors with special needs are welcome and will have access to all facilities.  A Spectrum Magnification machine located on the third floor is available for the use of visually impaired patrons. Every patron computer has the ability to magnify the words on the monitor.  The Library also offers the use of specialized microfilm readers. The Sorenson Video phone for deaf assistance is available for patron use on the third floor. The Family History Library also offers wheelchair access and limited assistance for hearing-impaired or foreign-language researchers. For TDD telephone questions, call (801) 240-2616.

As you walk in the front door and aren't sure where to start, go to the information desk and ask for assistance.  You will get the answers you need to get started, perhaps taking the short orientation film as an overview will help, and usually a volunteer will take you to the correct floor and get you started.  Anytime you need assistance just raise your hand and a volunteer will come to give you assistance.  Each floor has a reference desk you can go too for further help.  Click for a Floor Plan so you will know where to start.

Most documents you will look at will be written in the language of the country they are from.  Usually you will not need to know the foreign language to use the records, but learning a few key terms is helpful.  Many volunteers can assist you by finding a language specialist to assist you or you can look at the Research Helps area on FamilySearch for assistance in writing to a foreign country for help.

Meals:  No food or drink is allowed in the library except in the snack room on the main floor.  Several family, fast food, and fine dining restaurants are available nearby.  The cafeteria in the Church Office Building (two blocks east) is available for library patrons for lunch from 11:30 to 1:30 P.M.  Lunch passes are required and are available at the information desk in the main foyer of the library.

Frequently Asked Questions

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