Planning an Effective CHL Visit

Tyson Thorpe, reference coordinator
13 December 2022

See suggestions for making your visit to the Church History Library—online or in person—the most effective that it can be.

Depending on your individual circumstances and needs, visiting the Church History Library may involve viewing original documents, hearing a presentation, or getting research advice. Sometimes you can devote a significant amount of time to your visit, while other times you may need to come and go as quickly as possible. Whatever your particular situation may be, we want to help your visit to the Church History Library be as productive, uplifting, and efficient as possible. This blog post can help you prepare for your visit before you make your way to downtown Salt Lake City. Please look at these suggestions—they can help ensure that your time at the library is the most effective it can be.

First, what is your purpose for coming to the library? Are you coming to learn about the library and its mission, perhaps by attending one of our group presentations? Would you like to dive into the library’s records? Some library guests come to see an ancestor’s journal if it has been donated to the library.

If you would like to view the library’s most treasured artifacts, like those featured in the self-guided Foundations of Faith exhibit, or see a group presentation, consider the following:

  1. You can always stop by to see the various items we have on display in Foundations of Faith, which is available for viewing during all public hours. This exhibit features priceless records that document the Church’s restoration and growth, such as a page from the original manuscript of the Book of Mormon.
  2. Would you like to hear a presentation from one of our experts on a Church history topic? Currently, we have group presentations on the First Vision and the translation of the Book of Mormon. You can schedule a time for your group on the group presentations page.

If your plan is to conduct research using materials from the library’s collections, then we recommend using the Church History Catalog before you come to the library to see what resources we have available. (For insight into using the catalog, you can check out its orientation page.) Take a look at the catalog—millions of things are already digitized and you can see them from wherever you are. Check out what’s available and get an idea if you’ll need to call additional materials to the Reading Room when you come to the library. If you’d like help finding materials in the catalog, you can Ask Us for assistance.

Sometimes, the library materials you want to see haven’t been digitized yet. If that’s the case, then you can:

  1. Request that a collection be digitized. To do this, make note of the collection’s title and call number, then use our Ask Us service to let us know you would like the materials to be made available online. Please be aware that there are some collections that we cannot make available online. For those that we can, it may take some time before the material is available to view remotely.
  2. Schedule a time to visit our Reading Room in person. With this option, we recommend reaching out via our Ask Us service before your visit to schedule a Reading Room appointment. An appointment isn’t mandatory to use library materials, but it means that we will know when to expect you and have your materials waiting for you when you show up. We also have professional staff who can work with you before your visit to navigate access to collections that may have some restrictions.

If you’re coming to the Church History Library in person, you’ll want to park underneath the Conference Center. Don’t worry—we’ll provide you with a parking validation when you check in for your appointment.

For your research trip, think about bringing a laptop, USB drive, tablet, cell phone, or camera for taking notes. For more information on approved devices, see our Reading Room Policy and Guidelines for Copying and Obtaining Digitized Material.

We welcome everyone to the Church History Library, and we will always strive to help you with your research whether you’ve contacted us ahead of time or not. Following these suggestions, though, will help your research session be as productive as possible. If you have any questions about additional ways you could prepare to visit the Church History Library, please see our Planning Your Visit page, and feel free to contact us via our Ask Us service.