A Conversation about the Church’s New Genealogical Library
In October, the Church’s new Genealogical Library opened its doors at its new location across from Temple Square in Salt Lake City. The beautiful five-level facility, one and a half blocks from the library’s previous home in the Church Office Building, evidences the Church’s commitment to assisting members in searching out their ancestors and helping redeem their dead. The Ensign recently spoke with David M. Mayfield, director of the Member Services Division of the Genealogical Department, about the new facility.
Q: How significant is this new building to the Church’s genealogy program?
A: Very significant. This building inaugurates a new era of genealogical research. The library has been specifically designed to accommodate new technology, including major computer systems that we are now developing. These new systems constitute the beginning of a major thrust to simplify genealogical research and thereby involve additional tens of thousands of members doing research on their own family lines.
Q: What are you able to do with the new facilities that you weren’t able to do before?
A: This is the first time in the library’s 91-year history that it has been housed in a building specifically designed for genealogical research. This facility has extraordinary flexibility. For example, although there are now five floors, the building has sufficient structural capacity and support facilities to accommodate three additional floors. These levels will be added in the future as growth dictates.
The building also has a compact underground storage area. This area, ingeniously designed with movable stacks to increase storage capacity, can hold 200,000 more rolls of microfilm and 70,000 more books than we could store previously. Up to now, people wanting to use these little-used materials have had to wait while the items were transferred from the Granite Mountain vault in Little Cottonwood Canyon.
Q: Can you describe the new computer system?
A: It is called the Genealogical Information System. It will eventually allow patrons access to all our genealogical systems and data bases from any terminal in the library. One of the main components will be the Ancestral File, which will allow many users to trace their family back through several generations. We are now entering into the system the information from more than a million family group sheets and 150,000 pedigree charts which we have received from members since 1979. Although creating this system is a major technical challenge, it will be an invaluable aid to genealogists. The system will also include resource files, an on-line catalog, and a research guidance system. Prototypes will be completed by about mid-1986, with the finished programs available between one and five years later.
Q: What are some other features of the new library?
A: The building is well-equipped to provide patron instruction. There are classrooms on every floor, as well as video equipment and computer-assisted instruction in several locations. We have a seating capacity now of about 960, which is 200 more than previously. The new building also has controlled humidity, temperature, and lighting designed to protect the collection from deterioration. The collection consists of about 1.5 million rolls of microfilm and 170,000 books and manuscripts, containing an estimated 2 billion names.
Q: Do you expect that the new building and facilities will increase the number of patrons using the Church collection?
A: We average about 2,000 visits to the library each day, more than half a million per year, and we expect that number to increase, especially as the new computer system becomes available and awareness grows.
The Church is currently microfilming records in forty countries. This means the material we have is not compiled records, but original source material. It is often easier to do research here than in the countries the materials come from because of our location, our trained staff who speak the various languages, our equipment, and our instructional materials. Because of this, people come from all over the world to do research in our library. About 40 percent of the patrons are not LDS.
The main library is also the hub of a large Church genealogical library system which offers support to the 640 branch genealogical libraries located in 31 countries. These branch libraries received an estimated 1.4 million patron visits in 1985. We offer substantial support to these branch genealogical libraries. For example, this year we are distributing 300,000 rolls of microfilm, more than 7.5 million microfiche, and numerous instructional materials to these branch libraries.
Update: Stakes in the Church
The Church gained fifty-three stakes in the first three quarters of 1985, an increase in the number of stakes of more than 3 percent. As the year began, there were 1,507; the Iloilo Philippines Stake, organized from units of the Philippines Cebu Mission on January 20, became number 1,508. By the end of the first quarter of the year, number 1,525 had been organized—the Snow College Utah Stake, on March 24. At the end of the second quarter of the year, number 1,543 had been organized—the Rochester New York Palmyra Stake, created June 30. Stake number 1,560 was the Ft. Macleod Alberta Stake, organized September 29 from the Lethbridge Alberta and Lethbridge Alberta East Stakes.
Press Conference Outlines Church Cooperation in Bomb Investigation
President Gordon B. Hinckley, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Council of the Twelve, and Elder Hugh W. Pinnock of the First Quorum of the Seventy met with representatives of the news media October 23 to review information they had about a Salt Lake City documents dealer injured in a bomb blast one week earlier.
Bomb blasts had killed two Church members October 15—a Salt Lake City businessman and the wife of one of his associates. A bomb destroyed the document collector’s car the following day, leaving him hospitalized. Police are attempting to determine whether the bombings were tied to negotiations over documents offered for sale, some of which were called the “McLellin (or M’Lellin) Collection,” purportedly the papers of William E. McLellin, an early member of the Council of the Twelve who apostatized.
The press conference was called to “respond … to questions, speculations, and innuendos that have arisen consequent to those tragic acts,” President Hinckley explained. “Throughout the investigation the Church and its officers have cooperated with law enforcement officials, responding to every inquiry and request. We will continue to do so.” That cooperation was acknowledged by Salt Lake City’s chief of police during one of his own press conferences.
Manila Philippines North Region, Fernando R. Gomez, executive vice-president of an electronics firm and former high councilor and counselor in a stake presidency.
Davao Philippines Region, Jovencio Cabezas Ilagan, data processing manager in the Church offices and former bishop and counselor in a stake presidency.
Toronto Ontario, Montreal–Ottawa, and Dartmouth Nova Scotia Regions, Alexander B. Morrison, a professor at University of Guelph and former regional welfare agent, stake president’s counselor, and high councilor.
Angeles and Cabanatuan Philippines Regions, Jose Paulino Tecson, businessman and former bishop and stake president.
La Paz Bolivia El Alto Stake, Bernardino Leano; Neiafu Vava’u Tonga North Stake, Hamani F. Wolfgramm; Phoenix Arizona East Stake, Vernon Bowring Watkins; Saskatoon Saskatchewan Stake, Kenneth Alferd Svenson; Taylorsville Utah Central Stake, Max David Knight; Taylorsville Utah North Central Stake, William Craig Luker.
Chicago Heights Illinois Stake, Rodger Carl Lerohl; Hyde Park Utah Stake (new, from a division of the North Logan Utah Stake), Vincent Eugene Erickson; Ogden Utah Mound Fort Stake, A. Glen McFarland; Quilmes Argentina Stake, Jorge Luis del Castillo.
Riverside California Stake, Theodore Christy File; San Juan Puerto Rico Stake, Jose M. Jimenez; Stuttgart Germany Servicemen Stake, Theron L. Sleight; Vernal Utah Maeser Stake, Ronald George Robb.
Angeles Philippines Stake, George Wong Lee; Lingayen Philippines Stake (new, from a division of the Dagupan and Tarlac Philippines Stakes), Oberlito Bautista Parayno; Ft. Macleod Alberta Stake (new, from a division of the Lethbridge Alberta and Lethbridge Alberta East Stakes), Heber James Beazer; Grand Rapids Michigan Stake, Kent H. Price.
Hartlepool England Stake, Geoffrey David Mawlam; Las Pinas Philippines Stake (new, from a division of the Caloocan, Manila, Quezon City, Makati, Marikina, and Paranaque Philippines Stakes), Delfin T. Justiniano; Makati Philippines Stake, Angel Manligas Bonoan; Monterrey Mexico Moderna Stake, Jacobo Hilario Salazar; Upper Hutt New Zealand Stake, Leslie Arthur Churchill Harris.
Paranque Philippines Stake, Sol Afloro Azarraga; Pasig Philippines Stake (new, from a division of the Caloocan, Manila, Quezon City, Makati, Marikina, and Paranque Philippines Stakes), Macario M. Yasona, Jr.