When the temperature falls and snow starts to swirl, James M. Black heads out for a favorite winter activity. While some people stand on the street corners waiting for buses to the ski slopes, he takes a bus to the Family History Library in downtown Salt Lake City.
Although Black goes to the library year-round, he said he enjoys the library during the winter. "In the summer, you have to get here early in the morning - maybe even stand in line outside before the building opens - to get a microfilm reader," he said. "Even now, it can get crowded by noon, but not nearly as crowded as it is during the summer."Black, a member of the East Mill Creek 11th Ward, Salt Lake East Mill Creek North Stake, retired in 1980 after 43 years as a full-time employee in the Church's genealogical department. He said he goes to the library at least two days every week.
Tom Daniels, manager of public relations for the Family History Library, said patrons such as Black find some extra benefits by utilizing the library during winter monts, particularly in January and February.
"If your sole purpose in coming to Salt Lake City is to use the Family History Library, we suggest that you come during the winter months," said Daniels.
"During the winter there are no lines at the copy centers, and rarely is there any congestion at the reference counters."
He said the heaviest use of the library is during summer months when tourists add family history research to their travel plans.
"The library is very crowded throughout the summer," Daniels said. "During June, July and August, it's almost impossible to locate a vacant microfilm reading machine on the second floor, which houses the U.S./Canada record collection, the busiest floor of the library.
"During the winter months, visitors pretty well have their pick of the place. They find plenty of work tables and machines.
"Also, since we have as many employees and Church service personnel in January as we have in July, patrons have a better chance of receiving personalized help during winter months.
"Many patrons may not consider the winter a good time to use the library, but, in reality, the opposite is true."
Daniels said 671,127 people went to the library during 1987. Average daily attendance was 2,175.
While June, July and August are usually the highest attendance months, October 1987 brought in 74,007 patrons, the most of any month during 1987. "Last October's attendance was boosted by 12 tour groups, with 50 to 80 people in each group," said Daniels.
This year's attendance, as of Jan. 11, was 2,182.