The Church History Library is one of the most state-of-the-art libraries in the world. Historian Richard Turley shepherded the construction of the new building, where they moved the treasures of the Church. Barbara Jones Brown interviewed Rick last summer.
Richard: When I got to the Church History Department in 1986, it was located in the east wing of the Church Office Building, four floors. Those four floors were filling up very quickly. A lot of the materials that were gathered in there were gathered from various areas around the world. Yet, there was more material coming in. In fact, at one point, we did a little statistical analysis of how much material we had brought in over the previous five years, and we concluded that if you laid the material flat, so pieces of paper, not end to end, but flat on top of each other, the total amount of material we had brought in during the previous five-year period would have towered above the 28 story Church Office Building. So it very quickly became apparent to us that the facilities we had were inadequate. But even more importantly, the more I looked at the facilities, the more worried I grew. At the time, not now, they’ve been retrofitted since the Church History Library was opened and the materials were moved out of them. They’ve been retrofitted to have fire suppression equipment and to be in better controlled than they were, but at the time that I was there in the beginning, there was very little by way of fire suppression.
Richard: Also, even though while I was there, we put film on the windows to try to decrease the amount of ultraviolet light damage on the spines and box ends, there was still damage from light. So, we took all of that information, and we went upline and we proposed the construction of a new library. It took, essentially, 11 years to get the approvals and ultimately, four years to build the new Church History Library, which is state of the art. It’s a wonderful facility, the best facility we’ve ever had for the historical materials. It’s a great office space for those who work there, as well as a spectacular place for researchers who come to Salt Lake City, in addition to those who will do research online.
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Don’t miss our previous conversations with Barbara and Richard.