Many visitors were sad in 2020 when the Family History Library closed due to global COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. One positive aspect of the extended closure is that library remodeling efforts continued without construction dust and noise disrupting guests. Workers have been busily making improvements to this flagship library located in Salt Lake City, Utah.
When the library reopens, guests can take advantage of newly organized research materials, upgraded technology, better lighting, new desktop book scanners, expanded room for interactive experiences, and more.
When Will the Family History Library Reopen?
Starting July 6, 2021, the Family History Library will begin a phased reopening, with limited hours from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Hours will be expanded from there, so be sure to check the Family History Library web page for the most current opening status and visitor information.
Local FamilySearch Centers Also Reopening
FamilySearch family history centers and libraries will open based on the direction of their local ecclesiastical leaders and government guidelines. If you plan to visit a FamilySearch center soon, please call ahead to ensure it is open and learn its hours of operation.
Details about the Family History Library Remodel
Perhaps the biggest changes guests will notice when they visit the remodeled library will be the new floor rearrangements. With 5 floors, the Family History Library has a lot to offer, and research materials have been reorganized to improve space and help visitors find what they are looking for more easily.
The 2 top floors of the library are still devoted to United States and Canada research materials, with microfilms on the second floor and books on the third.
The 2 lower floors (B1 and B2) will now mirror the top floors with international microfilms on B1 and international books on B2. (Previously, British and Australian records and microfilms were separate, but they have now been integrated into the international collections.) The library’s map collections have all been consolidated into a new Global Map Area on B1 in all new cabinetry.
More Bookshelves and Other Floor Improvements
The library remodel added significantly more bookshelves to accommodate over 40,000 more volumes. On all floors, reference desks have been moved across from the elevators. Flat table space with charging stations has been expanded. Computer workstation heights are now adjustable, so guests may use them at convenient heights, from sitting to standing, for individual comfort. The new desks also better accommodate guests with ADA needs.
Technology has been updated throughout the newly remodeled library. The improvements are well-planned to provide access to more resources and better service for guests, as well as more convenient workstations.
Many visitor computer stations now feature 2 or 3 monitors, and all stations accommodate guests’ laptops. Up-to-date microfilm readers and scanners now function with the computers at many visitor workstations so that guests may conveniently examine books and microfilm, and make digital image copies at their stations, rather than going to a designated scan or copy area.
Lights have been turned on throughout the library building, eliminating the dark corridors once needed for microfilm reading. Library spaces are now well lit, more inviting, and more conducive to learning. A room on each microfilm floor still holds a variety of traditional microfilm readers with low lighting for those who prefer that experience.
Around 30 computer stations were removed, and others were redistributed to make room for expanded research materials on all floors. This change also gives visitors more space in the provided computer stations. The learning labs hold 111 additional computers to help accommodate more guests.
Break Room Expanded
The popular guest break room on the main floor by the interactive Discovery Experiences is being expanded and improved to better accommodate groups and families. It will include a small kitchenette and ice machine for guests.
Natural light to this room will be provided by 2 windows overlooking the historic cabin on the plaza outside. A sound-proof glass wall will separate the break room from the rest of the main floor, making the area more visible and easier for guests to locate. While this will eliminate the original oak-paneled classroom A, classrooms B and C will still be available.
Visitor Information for the Reopening
When the library opens, hand cleaning stations and thorough cleaning regimens throughout the building will be in effect. Policies about masks and social distancing will be made available as well, based on the latest guidelines. We are excited to have visitors come see the remodel for themselves, and the safety of our guests and staff is of utmost importance.
Remote Services Still Available
For those who cannot make it to the Family History Library or who live too far away from Salt Lake City, Utah, the library’s remote services can be helpful. Free, 20-minute virtual genealogy consultations with staff experts will continue to be available online. A Library lookup service is also available for accessing library materials remotely.
While the library renovations have produced many changes, visitors can still expect the same helpful, expert service they have always known from staff and missionaries at the Family History Library.
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