The library was founded in 1894 to gather genealogical records and assist members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with their family history and genealogical research and it is now open to the public at no charge. The current Family History Library building was dedicated on October 23, 1985 and includes 142,000 square feet on five floors. The library's public collection includes over 2.2 million rolls of microfilmed genealogical records; 742,000 microfiche; 300,000 books, serials, and other formats; and 4,500 periodicals. These records are meticulously preserved in an environment of controlled humidity, temperature, and lighting.
While the sheer amount of genealogical information available at the Family History Library is impressive, the breadth of that information is equally astounding. Records are available from the United States, Canada, the British Isles, Europe, Latin America, Asia, Africa, and Australia. A majority of these records contain information about persons who lived before 1920. At present, records have been filmed in over 110 countries, territories, and possessions. The library is continuing to expand, delving deeper into the past and into new parts of the world. In 2000, the collection increased by an average of 4,100 rolls of film and 700 books per month. Currently, nearly 300 cameras are microfilming records in over 40 countries.
More than 230 full-time and part-time professional staff and nearly 200 well-trained volunteers are on hand to help visitors take full advantage of the tremendous resources available at the Family History Library in researching their genealogy. Visitors' research is further aided by 84 patron computers, 600 microfilm readers, 75 microfiche readers, 31 microfilm and microfiche copiers, and 10 book copiers. The library has seating capacity for 365 at tables, plus additional standing workspace, and also offers regular orientation classes and specialized research classes.
Although the Family History Library does not require any level of experience in genealogical research, casual researchers or beginners might want to consider visiting the FamilySearch Center in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building as a starting point in compiling their family histories.
The Family History Library is located at 35 North West Temple Street in Salt Lake City, across West Temple Square Gates from the Tabernacle and Assembly Hall.