Quiet study place in HBLL doubles as family history center

A BYU student and service missionary works on genealogy in the HBLL Family History Center. Students and other members can come to this center and research their ancestors. (Maddi Driggs)

In the basement floor of the Harold B. Lee Library is a section of the institution that students go for a quiet place to study. Few people know that this quiet place doubles as their closest family history center.  

BYU freshman student Haley Bunch admitted she was aware of the center, but her knowledge of it wasn’t more than something she heard from someone else.

“I did (know about it), because New Student Orientation told us that,” Bunch said.

Rachel Moore was in the same boat.

“I think I’ve heard of it,” Moore said.

There are many tools in the Religion and Family History section of the library that are available for anyone who wants to do research on their ancestors.

Elder Walter, a senior missionary that serves in this Family History library, said they have many resources of innovated technology.

Aside from the computers that allow them to access FamilySearch.org, Ancestry.com and indexing software, they have scanners that let people change old photos into digital pictures.

“Or even negatives, if they have negatives we can scan the negatives and turn them into pictures,” Elder Walter said. “We have a scanner that scans about 700 pictures a minute.”

There are assistants and church missionaries on the Family History library to help students learn the system and understand all the resources they have to draw from. Walter said they have about 130 missionaries that are there every week that can show them how everything works.

“They come in here and we’ll teach them how to do it, and they can just reserve a computer and do it for hours upon hours,” Walter said.

David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve spoke of the Genealogy work and more specifically addressed the younger generations of the Church in his October 2011 general conference address.

“We have the covenant responsibility to search out our ancestors and provide for them the saving ordinances of the gospel,” Elder Bednar said.

Elder Bednar said it is members’ responsibility, but more members need to become involved. BYU student Sophia Osmond suggested people would be more motivated if members made a game out of it.

“On my mission they had an indexing competition in their ward,” Osmond said.

Sister Archuleta, a senior missionary at the Family History Library, agreed with the playful twist.

“What they find really well in the wards is to have a competition between the young men and the young women,” Archuleta said. “Because who does not like competing against the sexes?”

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