Monday, January 1, 2018

Maximizing Research Time at the FHL

The world’s largest genealogical library only blocks away from SLIG is a researcher’s dream come true! Managing the dream with practical preparations greatly contribute to a successful visit to the Family History Library (FHL). This is especially true with the many changes that have occurred in 2017.
Microfilm Access

If you are interested in looking at microfilm from the FHL, it’s best to become familiar with the online FamilySearch Catalog. Once familiar with the organizational process used in the Catalog, it is important to pay close attention to where the microforms are being stored. Not all microfilms listed in the FamilySearch Catalog are stored onsite at the Family History Library. Some microfilms are stored in the Granite Mountain Records Vault, requiring several days notice to access.

Those microforms stored off-site from the FHL in the Vault are identified in the Catalog entries by words “Granite Mountain Record Vault” or just "Vault" (see example below).

FamilySearch is making strides at digitizing them. Of the three itemized below, one has been digitized and is accessible online, while the other two will require special ordering to view. Films that have been digitized are no longer available to view in microform.

To Order Vault Films
  1. Please order at least three working days prior to your visit to assure retrieval time.
  2. If you need more than 15 films, please provide at least one week notice.
  3. There is a usage limit of 10 films per guest per day.
  4. Utilize the Online Order Form.
  5. You may pick up the films at the Access Service Window on the corresponding collection floor (For example, an international film can be located on the B1 International Floor of the Library.)

Important Things to Know Before You Go
  • In order to have full access to online records and research aids, FamilySearch is actively prompting visitors to register for or log into their free FamilySearch account.
  • It is always best to work through the online catalog and prioritize what you need to access by accessibility:
      • Items available online will be marked in red. You may be able to view those from home before coming to the library; or when you click to access them, you may be notified that they are only viewable at the FHL (or local Family History Center); prioritize accordingly.
      • Books, films, and other sources that are not available online should be accessed first (see also vault films above). 
      • Of particular interest to some groups (British particularly) will be records and indexes formerly on CD; now in spreadsheets, they are only accessible on an FHL computer. 
    • There are several types of people serving at the Family History Library.  To obtain the help you need, and avoid frustration, it is good to know the difference:
      • Research specialists are located on the three remodeled research floors—2nd Floor (United States and Canada Research), B1 (International), and B2 (British Isles). They are available until 7:00 pm each day and may be accessed through the Assistance desk on the related floor. They will inquire about your request question—country, language, etc.—so they can determine the best specialist to help you. You will then be given a hand-held paging device—like ones used in restaurants—so you can return to your research while waiting.  FHL Research Specialists are the ones wearing the blue lanyards.
      • Other library workers, wearing red lanyards, are available to help with basic library questions—where to find a book, how to scan, copy, use the readers, or track a lost film.
      • Then there are the missionaries. No, they are not allowed to approach you about the LDS church. Nor are they there to assist library patrons; note the lack of lanyard. They are there to serve the LDS church in other ways—online or locally.  Peg Ivanyo, SLIG director, indicates this has sometimes been confusing for new patrons: "It would seem logical that a person with a black name badge in the FHL would be there to help you, but these missionaries—sitting at computer, in a classroom, or taking a break near the water fountain—are there for other reasons. Feel free to ask them where they are from and exchange pleasantries if you wish; but otherwise, just leave them to their assigned projects."
    • The FHL also has a few rules to abide by; someone will come around and ask in the sweetest manner possible that the rules be followed, if someone is not doing so.  Review rules here. 
    • Have scanning or copying needs? Most floors have a copy/scanning center, with personnel to help you. In addition to the microfilm and book scanners, the FHL has a digital slide scanner for 35mm slides and multiple digital photo scanners with automatic document feeders.

    Finding Your Way Around the Library

    It is helpful to become familiar with the layout of the FHL. There is an online orientation available that can be viewed from home.  There are two floors above the Main Floor (3rd and 2nd) and two floors below the Main Floor (B1 and B2). The FHL provides interactive floor maps as part of its library orientation (Adobe Flash Player needed).  FHL Floor maps 

    • Lost & Found? 1 801-240-5624
    • Questions about classes, hours, parking? 1 801-240-6536
    • Need a snack to tide you over? A snack room is available on the main floor. Guests are welcome to use the microwave and/or purchase food from the vending machines. Change machines are also available, if needed. USA Today and the Deseret News are also available here for relief from brain strain.
    • Reviewing the complete list on FHL Guest Resources is enlightening. Check here.

    The Family History Library is a great adventure--enjoy the facilities, abide by the rules, remember to hydrate--and good hunting!

    Enjoy the SLIG experience!

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