Did you know that not all of the records on the Family History Library Catalog are currently viewable at the LDS Family History Library in Salt Lake City? For those planning their first long-distance trip to the Mecca of genealogical research, before you visit you may need to "pull your microfilm from the Vault."
The microfilmed genealogical records available at the Family History Library and its over 3500 Family History Centers located throughout the world are duplicates of master microfilm copies stored in a protected location known as the Granite Mountain Records Vault. Workers pull films from the Vault, located just east of Salt Lake City, when patrons make first requests to view the records at the Family History Library. The Granite Mountain Records Vault is a storage facility located in the Wasatch Range of the Rocky Mountains. Housing over 2 million rolls of microfilm, this vault protects records of a significant portion of the human family. For genealogists who have written personal family histories, donating your research to the Family History Library will earn your compilation free storage space in this high-tech vault, where scientists estimate it will be safely preserved indefinitely.
There is a way to determine whether or not the microfilm you wish to search is currently available at the Family History Library or if it's still in the Vault. When you view the "Film Notes" for the specified microfilm on the Family History Library Catalog, note whether the microfilm number's prefix reads "FHL" or "VAULT." The prefix will be followed by a regional term, such as "US/CAN Film," "BRITISH Film," or "INTL Film," which precedes the actual microfilm number. After first requests are made, employees update the location status of microfilms on the Family History Library Catalog, changing the prefix "VAULT" to "FHL." The internet version of the catalog, online at www.familysearch.org, is updated most frequently, making it the preferred catalog medium in this situation (in contrast to the microfiche and CD-Rom versions).
Placing an order for a microfilm to be pulled from the Vault is a simple procedure. You can place the order at home by fax, online, or onsite at the library. The fax number is 801-240-1924. To send an email, click on this link www.familysearch.org/Eng/Library/FHL/frameset_library.asp?PAGE=Email_fhl.asp. While at the Family History Library, if you find yourself in need of a Vault Film, request the Film from staff members at the Library Attendant's Window on the floor that specifically caters to your geographical research needs (i.e. for British films, Floor B2; for International films, Floor B1; for United States and Canadian films, Floor 2). The staff will submit your request, which should arrive at the Library within two to three work days. Failure to anticipate this delay could be devastating for visiting researchers who find themselves needing a Vault Film on their last vacation day in Salt Lake City. Don't forget to plan ahead for success!
Read more about it:
Allen, James B., Jessie L. Embry and Kahlile B. Mehr. Hearts Turned to the Fathers. Provo, UT: Brigham Young University Press, 1995.
Foy, Paul. "Granite Vault Offers Nuke-Proof Storage," in SiliconValley.com. Internet, available at www.siliconvalley.com/mld/siliconvalley/news/7557471.htm. Accessed: July 6, 2004.