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Salt Lake City Family History library celebrates 30th anniversary

The LDS Family History Library celebrated its 30th anniversary on Oct. 23.

The Family History Library was first established in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1985. The five-story building, located in downtown Salt Lake City, continues to provide services for people from all over the world.

During the completion of the library, the Church was considered the foremost head of authority on family history research. Throughout the years, genealogists said that the Family History Library is the top research and collections library in the world, partly because it has evolved to keep pace with the changing demographics and demands of family researchers and the communities it serves, according to Deseret News.

Diane Miller, a family history missionary at BYU-Idaho, said the library is easier and more accessible than ever.

“Anyone can do it,” Miller said. “But we love it when young people participate. Us older people don’t know how to use all the technology advancements. But younger generations do. That’s why the youth really do play a major role in the advancement of not only the family history program, but the Church and its general progression as a whole.”

Miller said when the family history program began, it was only accessible by use of microfilm. However, due to technology advancements over the past three decades, it is now available and more accessible by use of modern resources such as computers, mobile apps and devices.

Construction of the building was announced in 1983, which materialized and led to accommodate improving research and information gathering options, according to Deseret News.

Diane Loosle, director of the Family History Library, said the focus of the library has always been to increase access to the world’s genealogical records and help patrons make personal family discoveries.

“To the family historian, this library is like Disneyland,” Loosle said on the FamilySearch website. “There’s no place like it. People dream for years of coming. It is the largest facility of its kind and the largest of FamilySearch’s 4,883 family history centers globally. Many people begin their journey of discovery at one of our facilities.”

When the program first began, it was located in a one-room repository of the Genealogical Society of Utah, around the corner and in a small building called the Church Historian’s Office, but has vastly expanded over the years, according to FamilySearch.

An estimate of 1,500 people visit the facility a day, with 100 full-time and part-time staff and approximately 700 trained volunteers, according to FamilySearch.

Samantha Carey, a freshman studying family and consumer sciences, said she has a strong passion for family history and would encourage others to participate as well.

“My family has had a lot of cool experiences with family history,” Carey said. “I was able to find out I’m related to Pocahontas and Joseph and Hyrum Smith. It was just really neat to be able to find out who I’m related to. It’s really cool to be able to connect to your past.”

Carey said she was really involved with doing family history work and believes it can easily become a good addiction that helps bring families  closer together.

“I’ve heard it said that your family on the other side of the veil are like your guardian angels,” Carey said. “So if you get to know your guardian angels through family history, it makes it much more special and personal.”

Nancy Tonks, a missionary and family history consultant at BYU-I, said the programmers specifically designed the program to have a variety of resources available to help users.

“If I went to heaven without one of my family members, it wouldn’t be heaven,” Tonks said. “That’s the purpose of family history. We’re linking together our ancestors. We’re putting families together. We’re making a difference in more than just our temporary earthly lives, but for our relationships for all eternity.”

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