Deseret Morning News, Thursday, April 21, 2005
Plans unveiled for an LDS library
By Doug Smeath
Deseret Morning News
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has new plans for the
corner of North Temple and Main Street: a five-story,
250,000-square-foot Church History Library and archives vault.
The library, to be built on the northeast corner of the intersection
where a 272-space parking lot currently sits, will be open to the
public, the church announced Wednesday. The facility will mostly be
used by a small number of historians, scholars and officials.
"This is not intended to be a high-impact facility that will bring a
lot of people to the area," LDS Church attorney Alan Sullivan told a
gathering of Capitol Hill residents at the neighborhood's community
council meeting Wednesday evening.
But several residents said they were worried the reduction in parking
would further exacerbate their ongoing problem of small residential
streets being clogged with parked cars, especially during the church's
semiannual general conferences.
They said the problem has grown dramatically since the LDS Church
built its large conference center at the same intersection, directly
west of the site for the new library, despite the church's assurances
that parking studies had been done. The residents now worry that with
the church's plans to renovate the downtown malls in the area, parking
will be a nightmare for years to come.
But Bill Williams, the church's director of architecture and
engineering, said the current plans ensure parking will be available
above and beyond city requirements. He promised the church will create
interim parking plans to handle parking during construction and
emphasized that the current church history library, in the LDS Church
Office Building, sees only about a dozen visitors a day.
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The library will use new technology and the increased space to
preserve church records, including manuscripts, publications,
photographs and audiovisual items, the church said in its
announcement. The current collections include 3.5 million manuscripts,
210,000 publications, 100,000 photographs and 50,000 audiovisual
The new library will include general-use reading rooms and a special
collections area so church members and visitors can stop by to peruse
the church's history. In a news release, Elder Marlin K. Jensen, a
member of the First Quorum of the Seventy and the church's historian
and recorder, said the library "will be a welcome resource for those
who wish to learn more about Latter-day Saint history."
Plans for the building were intended to help it blend in with the look
and feel of the intersection, which is just north of the church's Main
Street Plaza and the Temple Square plaza. Williams said the design was
meant to be a scaled-back, subtle building that will not feel too
bulky or overwhelming. He said a three-story glass entry will "act
like a lantern to the community."
"We think it will add considerably to the neighborhood," he said.
He said the new facility will have a feel similar to the Main Street
Plaza area, with open space and a "pocket park" with "the same kind of
character" as Temple Square.
The building was designed by MHTN Architects, a Salt Lake-based firm.
Construction will begin in the fall and is expected to be finished in