The Family History Library now offers a look-up service for when you can’t go to the library.

The Family History Library (FHL) in Salt Lake City, Utah, has long been a go-to place to find genealogical research materials and is the flagship library for FamilySearch International. With the closure of the library a year ago due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people have had to rely largely on online materials, unable to access records that are only viewable at the Family History Library or other locations. A new Library Lookup Service will soon provide greater access to these records globally.

Online Records and Limited Access Records

With a free FamilySearch account, you can search through a large database of records online on FamilySearch.org. This search often provides a text index of the record for quick reference and a complete image of the record. Some books and materials, however, only have the index available. The full images for these records can only be accessed at the Family History Library, family history centers, or affiliate libraries—primarily due to copyright restrictions or partner agreements.

Due to COVID-19 conditions, visiting one of these facilities to look at materials has not been possible. To offset pandemic restrictions and as part of an effort to serve a global audience living too far away to visit the library, the Family History Library has launched its own lookup service.

How the Lookup Service Works

Upon request, staff and volunteers at the library will look up specific records in their collections that cannot be viewed online. Since Library Lookup is not a research service, people will need to identify the specific record from FamilySearch.org that they need to see.

As mentioned, an online search might provide only basic information from a document, yet frequently the original document contains more information. To use the Lookup service, visit the online request form to request a copy of the image of the original document.

Requests may take a few weeks to process, depending on the volume of requests being handled at a given time.

To learn more about the process, read the article “New Library Lookup Service—For When You Can’t Visit the Family History Library.”

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