Beginning in the late 1950s, many religious groups in the United States saw a growing interest in the development and improvement of libraries. Within some denominations, organizations were created to advocate library programs and promulgate standards and guidelines. This effort included the establishment of the Parish Library Section of the Catholic Library Association in 1957 and the formation of the Lutheran Church Library Association the following year.A drive toward greater cooperation and professionalization culminated in 1967 with the creation of the Church and Synagogue Library Association, a nonprofit, nondenominational organization that provided conferences and publications for training church librarians.
As part of this national effort to improve church libraries, a range of manuals and support materials were published to guide local church programs. Many of these followed the structure established by the Southern Baptist Convention in their 1937 publication The Church Library Manual. This important handbook was based on the conclusion that “those who have studied carefully the church library problem are convinced that the easiest, most accurate and most practical plan for church libraries is to employ methods of other libraries, simplified and adapted for church library use.”This adapted program for Baptist libraries included the establishment of dedicated space for collections and reading, the use of the Dewey Decimal System and subject indexing, and committee-based governance. More importantly, it recommended expanding the role of libraries beyond the Sunday school to be a resource for the whole church. This amplified, standards-based approach to church libraries was widely adopted and integrated into guides published during the late 1950s in other American religious communities.
The influence of this growth and changes in church library programs was felt more slowly within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Church’s program, developed and administered by the Deseret Sunday School Union through the end of the 1950s, focused on the use of library materials as “teaching aids” for curriculum support rather than as a general resource for members.In many units, the use of the library was limited to the Sunday School itself, with other auxiliary organizations maintaining their own collections separately. This narrow focus expanded under the guidance of the professional librarians at Brigham Young University during the 1960s and 1970s, and a new model of library service began to develop within the Church. Under the rubric of the correlation program, this library initiative was able to expand in ward meetinghouses throughout the Church during this period. However, the direction given through the Correlation Committee eventually transformed Church libraries again, returning them to their former role as material centers.
Reimagining the Sunday School Library
The Deseret Sunday School Union had been involved in library work since its inception in 1867. At the organizing meeting, a committee was established to select “suitable works for Sunday School libraries.”This concept of libraries as an integral component of the Sunday School remained constant through the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Librarians in individual units received instruction through occasional articles published in the Church periodical the Juvenile Instructor, and beginning in 1930 the library committee published a regular column in the Juvenile Instructor. However, many of the details of implementing the program were left to local Sunday School leaders. Funding could be inconsistent, relying heavily on donations from members and reuse of Church publications. In some units, this meant that libraries were not established, while in wards with libraries the selection of material varied widely.
Additional guidelines later developed and published by the Deseret Sunday School reflected the loose central regulation of the library program. The last full version of these instructions, published as Teaching Aids and Library Guidebook in 1954, restated the goal of the Sunday School to have “an adequate and useful library in every ward in the Church supervised by an active, enthusiastic, and efficient librarian.”However, it was left to each individual unit to use “ingenuity to adapt to its individual situation” both in terms of library space and the content of the library itself. A basic list of materials and supplies was provided in the guidebook (listed in full in appendix A), but wide discretion was given for adding books, pictures, and other publications that supported teaching. While some of the materials were available through Deseret Book Company, librarians were also referred to national publishing houses such as Standard Publishing Company, Thomas Nelson and Sons Company, David C. Cook Publishing Company, and National Geographic and allowed to individually decide what materials fit with Church doctrines.
Once the materials had been obtained, the librarian was responsible for organizing and making them available to Church members. In order to keep track of library items, the guidebook recommended the use of accession numbers for maintaining inventory control.Basic classification systems were also recommended for arranging materials on the shelves, although the systems for books and pictures varied significantly. In order to provide access, librarians were also encouraged to develop their own subject indexes to the content of books, magazines, and pictures to assist users in finding needed resources.
Despite the significant challenges of funding and organizing libraries, as well as the instruction to librarians to develop selective collections aimed specifically at supporting Church curricular needs, by the late 1950s “Sunday School libraries throughout the Church . . . [were] growing rapidly in size and number,” according to J. Holman Waters of the Sunday School’s Library and Teaching Aids Committee.In many cases, librarians were unable to effectively manage the resulting collections and turned to the Deseret Sunday School Union for additional guidance. The Sunday School in turn sought out the advice of the professional librarians at Brigham Young University.
Beginning in the mid-1950s, the Brigham Young University administration had made significant efforts to expand the university library’s collections and services. In 1954, President Ernest L. Wilkinson had appointed S. Lyman Tyler to be director of the library (fig. 1).Tyler had only recently been hired as a member of the history faculty at the time of his appointment and was not a trained librarian, but he came to the position with a strong background in libraries and a desire to improve the university library. As he developed the university’s policy on libraries in 1956, Tyler embedded a statement on the importance of Brigham Young University as the leading institution in the Unified Church School System and had its library designated as the archive for the Church Educational System. His goal was to establish the university library as the research library for the Church, with collections capable of “meet[ing] the requirements of the teaching and research program of the University, the Alumni, and the Church Membership in general.” In order to meet this goal, the library determined to build special collections in the areas of “Mormon Americana” and religion, and build expertise in developing library cataloging and classification systems to manage this material.
In recognition of this growing expertise, the Deseret Sunday School Union Board contacted Brigham Young University to request assistance in adapting formal library methods for Church libraries. In a letter dated January 30, 1957, George R. Hill, general superintendent of the Sunday School, requested through President Wilkinson “that the library department of the Brigham Young University think through and adapt a simplified but adequate Dewey Decimal System, for the use of Sunday School or ward libraries, and furnish a brochure or card system so completely worked out that newly appointed inexperienced persons called to be Sunday School librarians may use it to quickly find and properly account for all the books and pamphlets found in the library.”In responding to their request, S. Lyman Tyler appears to have reviewed the general library literature as well as the Baptist Sunday School program and their use of the Dewey Decimal System. Based on this review, when he attended the Sunday School board meeting in March he presented a plan not only for classification, but also a proposal for a larger reorganization of the Church’s library program. According to Tyler’s recommendation, at the Church level the administration of the library program would be removed from the Sunday School and placed under a General Church Library Committee composed of representatives of the different auxiliary organizations. This committee would be responsible for preparing a list of recommended books, pictures, and other materials for which catalog cards could be provided by the Church library program. At an intermediate level, stake supervisors of library services might be called to supervise local librarians and provide training. Then, at a local level, each ward would have its own library supervised by a ward-level library committee with representatives from each auxiliary. In order to support the Sunday School board’s requirements for a centralized cataloging service, Tyler suggested that general book drives be discontinued and that members be allowed only to “supply materials on [the] basic list or money to purchase these.”
While the Sunday School board was supportive of Tyler’s plans for centralizing the selection and cataloging of library materials, they were not willing to support the reorganization of the administration of the library program. As described in the meeting’s minutes, “The Sunday School Board members suggested that there would be much opposition to this idea at the present time” and that they should instead plan on working within the existing organization.To implement the centralized system, the Sunday School enlisted the Brigham Young University library to develop a guide to the Dewey Decimal System and subject listing for existing materials, which was to be published and distributed for librarians who were trained in library practices. At the same time, they were asked to classify and create catalog records for “every book which appropriately can be in a Church library.” To begin this process, the Library and Teaching Aids Committee provided a list of books suggested by the manager of Deseret Book Company, though they allowed the university librarians to include other titles that they felt would be useful.
Although Tyler initially had some reservations about providing cataloging services for the Sunday School, the librarians at Brigham Young University assisted with this work for the first two years of the centralized program. During the fall, Tyler prepared an abridged classification table for the Dewey Decimal System using an expansion of the 289.3 for Mormon works, which was distributed at the Sunday School conference in October 1957.The library also continued to provide catalog records for duplication and distribution until at least 1959, when the Sunday School hired a professional librarian to assist with the program.
Shifting Responsibility for Church Libraries
While the introduction of library standards and of centralized cataloging services provided useful tools for existing libraries, it was not until the rise of the modern correlation movement that the Church was able to significantly expand library services. The Correlation Committee formed under the direction of Harold B. Lee in 1961 built on previous initiatives to coordinate and harmonize Church curriculum.However, the role of the correlation program eventually expanded beyond curriculum design until it was in a position to reorganize much of the administration of the Church itself. Among the goals of correlation was reducing the duplication of effort across the organization, aligning programs with Church policies and standards, and reviewing and approving the Church curriculum. Due to the fragmented nature of library services within the Church and the role of libraries in supporting teaching and learning, the Correlation Committee was a natural ally in the expansion of the Church’s library program.
The role of libraries in the Church was brought to the attention of the Correlation Committee largely through the continued efforts of S. Lyman Tyler. Starting in 1963, Tyler had begun working closely with President N. Eldon Tanner of the First Presidency, first serving on an advisory committee to the Genealogical Society library and then later that year providing reference and research services to the First Presidency.In late 1964, Tanner started making arrangements for Tyler to take a sabbatical leave from the university to assist the Church in long-term planning related to information and communications issues. This work focused on records management, internal and external communications, and library services; of these Tyler turned his attention first to the library program. An initial meeting was called by President Tanner in December 1964, bringing together the directors of the Brigham Young University library (S. Lyman Tyler), the Historian’s Office library (Earl E. Olson), and the Genealogical Society library (Delbert Roach). This Librarians Council was charged with “the development of a library program for the Church,” though the first meeting focused on the role of only the libraries represented on the council. By February 1965, the role of the council had been expanded to include responsibility for meetinghouse libraries, as well as the establishment of a central reference library. At Tyler’s urging, on February 17, 1965, a letter was sent by President Tanner on behalf of the First Presidency to all General Authorities and Church administrative officials announcing the formation of the Librarians Council and indicating the First Presidency’s approval of their developing program. Tanner also wrote to Elder Harold B. Lee in March 1965 to bring the Librarians Council program to the attention of the Correlation Committee “so as to prevent any overlapping” with that committee’s work.
During the following month, Tyler and the Librarians Council continued to develop their preliminary plans for the Church library program. The outline of this plan was presented by Tyler at a meeting of an Advisory Council for Church Library, Records Management, and Communications Programs in April in President Tanner’s office, which included an expanded version of his 1957 recommendations for consolidating and reorganizing meetinghouse libraries as part of the establishment of Churchwide library information services. According to this revised plan, ward libraries would be under the direction of the bishop, while a stake librarian would provide training and supervision. In a further extension of the original plan, branch genealogical libraries would be integrated into the overall library system and a central reference library would be established under the direction of the Church Historian’s Office to provide interlibrary loan of needed library materials.
While the general outline of the new library program had now been defined, it took some time for the plan to be reviewed, refined, and approved by the Correlation Committee. In May 1965, President Tanner appeared before the committee to present the program, and Correlation Committee secretary Antone Romney was appointed to work on refining the plan.A revised proposal, entitled “The Church Library System,” was brought back to the Correlation Committee in September 1965 by Romney and Tyler, but discussion continued through most of 1966. During this time, construction plans for meetinghouse libraries were developed for use in the Church building program, which featured ample counter space, shelving for books and other materials, a work table, and an adjoining classroom or reading room for researchers.
By the end of 1966, the details of the program were finalized and it was ready to be publicly announced, though the goals of the program had shifted through the correlation process. In August 1966, President Tanner announced in a Librarians Council meeting that the ward library program would move forward.The expanded program was formally announced through a First Presidency letter dated December 5, 1966. In line with the Correlation Committee’s objectives, however, the function of the library program as described in the letter was to support “the improvement of instruction and general educational development” within the Church. Nevertheless, the approval of the program provided necessary resources to expand library services, since the letter also announced that all newly constructed meetinghouses would now include space for library facilities. By January 1967, the First Presidency authorized the Building Department to release blueprints for library construction (figs. 2, 3).
Following the announcement, the Church sought to institutionalize the administration of the program. As Tyler had proposed in 1957, the meetinghouse library program was removed from the Deseret Sunday School’s administration and placed under a Churchwide committee. At first the program was supervised directly by President Tanner and a Church Library and Instructional Materials Committee, but on November 22, 1968, at the request of Harold B. Lee and the Correlation Committee, an expanded Church Library Coordinating Committee was established. Based on the Correlation Committee’s interpretation of Doctrine and Covenants 69:8 that the Historian’s Office had responsibility for Church library functions, Assistant Church Historian Earl E. Olson was appointed as chair of the committee.Other initial members included Theodore Burton of the Genealogical Society, Russell L. Davis representing curriculum libraries, Keith R. Oaks of the Church School System, Donald K. Nelson of the Brigham Young University library, and S. Lyman Tyler as a consultant. In June 1966, Tyler had left Brigham Young University to join the history faculty and serve as director of the Bureau of Indian Services at the University of Utah. However, Harold B. Lee recommended that he be retained on the committee due to his earlier planning role.
Correlating Church Libraries
As it was established, the Church Library Coordinating Committee was responsible for a wide range of activities, only a portion of which were related to meetinghouse libraries. The overall goal of the committee was “correlating the activities and procedures to be followed in all Church libraries”; however, as the goal was defined, the committee served primarily as advisors, with implementation decisions left to individual libraries and to the Correlation Committee.The major exception was the development of the meetinghouse library program, which had no institutional sponsor on the committee, and which remained a prominent area of the group’s work. At the time of its creation, the objectives of the committee included:
1. The further development of a Curriculum Library in each ward building, now designated as the Ward Library and Instructional Materials Center (to consider changing this title to Ward Library), and to include the following aids:
a. Instructions on administration and library procedures, equipment, etc.
b. Helps on cataloging and filing systems.
c. Provide copies of library catalog cards where desired.
d. Provide suggested lists of books, filmstrips, equipment, etc.
e. Designate ward centers as good examples of a ward library program.
2. The development of facilities in ward libraries for housing Branch Genealogical Libraries. To ascertain the responsibility of this committee with regard to administration, inspection, etc., of branch libraries.
Under Earl Olson, during its first two years the Church Library Coordinating Committee worked to address each of these objectives but found that they would need help to implement such an expansive program. In 1969, they formed a temporary task committee to assist them, but once that committee completed its work, they proposed that the group be formalized as the Meetinghouse Library Committee to operate under their direction and focus on the meetinghouse library program. This new committee was established with seventeen members in December 1970 and placed under the direction of Utah State Librarian Russell L. Davis.In 1972, with the reorganization of the Historical Department, Earl Olson became Church Archivist and Don Schmidt of the Brigham Young University library was made Church Librarian with responsibility for the meetinghouse library program.
In working to implement the meetinghouse library program, the Church Library Coordinating Committee and the Meetinghouse Library Committee participated in a range of activities. These included hosting workshops in association with general conference, participating in regional trainings, and preparing manuals and training films.Those areas in which the committee’s efforts had the longest-term effect included the expansion of facilities and the standardization of content, as described below.
The expansion of library facilities was one of the most visible outcomes of the meetinghouse library program and perhaps had the greatest effect on increasing local member access to Church resources. The uniform integration of library spaces in meetinghouses was first announced in the 1966 First Presidency letter, declaring that thereafter all newly constructed buildings would be required to include library facilities.For existing meetinghouses, renovations could only be encouraged, but the Church initiated a shared costs program, providing 70 percent of funds for remodeling in wards and 80 percent for branches.
In developing local facilities, there was initially some uncertainty as to what these facilities should be called. In December 1968, the committee decided that the title “Ward Library” should be used in place of “Ward Library and Instructional Materials Center.” The earlier title of “Curriculum Library,” which had been used under the Deseret Sunday School Union, was also not to be used.After the committee consulted with President Tanner, in January the terminology was again changed to “Meetinghouse Library” in order to clarify that only one library facility would exist in each building, rather than having one under the direction of each ward.
Working with the Building Department, the Church Library Coordinating Committee was also responsible for developing plans for the library facilities themselves. A significant component of the building plans developed for the meetinghouse library program was the inclusion of an adjacent reading room for using library materials. This room was included in the first library blueprints released by the Building Department in 1967 (see fig. 2).While alternate configurations were eventually created for smaller branch or ward buildings, the committee was adamant that a fully established meetinghouse library should include dedicated study space.
One of the main reasons for requiring the additional space was the increasingly close relationship between the meetinghouse library program and the Genealogical Society’s branch genealogical library program. The branch genealogical libraries were first announced by President N. Eldon Tanner as the president of the Genealogical Society in 1963, and a pilot branch location in the Brigham Young University library was established in May 1964.Additional branches were set up either as independent facilities or through cooperation with public libraries, but in February 1965, S. Lyman Tyler began discussions with Elder Theodore Burton of the Genealogical Society about the possibility of collocating branch genealogical libraries in “regional or multiregional libraries in the library system of the Church.” With the formation of the Church Library Coordinating Committee in 1968, Burton hoped to have the committee “assisting in approving and inspecting the branch libraries.”
By 1970, branch genealogical libraries being placed in meetinghouse libraries was becoming the norm. Increasingly while reviewing requests for branch genealogical libraries, the committee required that a meetinghouse library be constructed first and that it should house both facilities.As part of this collocation, the committee also suggested that the branch genealogical librarian should be under the direction of the meetinghouse librarian. With the termination of the sixty-mile radius policy, which prohibited branch genealogical libraries from being located near each other, in late 1970 the growth of the branch genealogical library program accelerated further, increasing the pressure to align it closely with meetinghouse libraries. As a result, this revised administrative structure was accepted by the committee in 1972 and integrated into the instructions for meetinghouse libraries, though the merged program was not formally adopted until 1974.
Throughout the 1970s, the branch genealogical library program continued to grow, driving further expansion of meetinghouse library facilities. In 1973, the approval of branch genealogical libraries was further streamlined so that proposals that placed genealogy services in the meetinghouse library facilities were given blanket approval.The final expansion of the program came on May 16, 1975, when the First Presidency gave their approval for branch genealogical libraries to be established in all stakes and districts under the meetinghouse library program. By the end of 1975, there were nearly two hundred branch genealogical libraries in the system.
Another area in which the Church Library Coordinating Committee had a significant impact on Church programs was in the development of library resources. While the manuals produced by the Church for the meetinghouse library program during the 1960s and 1970s retained earlier wording granting librarians the discretion to purchase or otherwise obtain library materials from any source, there were growing efforts during this period to narrow the range of content available in libraries. This was not driven by the necessity of centralized cataloging as in the 1950s, but by economic concerns related to the purchase and packaging of commercially produced materials, as well as concerns about the lack of correlation between materials produced outside the Church and the Church’s developing curriculum program. As stated in the Meetinghouse Library Bulletin in August 1972, the problem with purchasing materials not distributed by the Church was that “none of them [commercial resources] have been programed into Church curriculum programs.”
Recommended lists of books were published periodically in manuals and bulletins under the new correlated program. These included a short list of recommended materials in the first issue of the Information Series in 1967 (see appendix B), with an expanded list of suggested books included in the third issue the following year.After the establishment of the Church Library Coordinating Committee in fall 1968, however, the content of the Information Series was required to be approved by the Correlation Committee and the process of recommending books for meetinghouse libraries became significantly more conservative. In January 1969, the Church Library Coordinating Committee approved reprinting issue 1 of the Information Series rather than revise it and send it through the Correlation Committee. When the library committee did propose adding titles to the recommended list in April 1969, it recommended only those books that had been already approved by the Church for translation (see appendix C).
With the publication of the Meetinghouse Library Technical Manual in 1970, the list of books recommended by the Church was largely codified. This list included most of the titles from the 1967 and 1969 lists in the Information Series and a few from the 1954 Deseret Sunday School Union list, such as James E. Talmage’s Jesus the Christ and Articles of Faith, Joseph Fielding Smith’s Essentials in Church History, and David O. McKay’s Gospel Ideals (see appendix D).Some of the reticence to add to the list appears to have been practical; the committee feared it would be overwhelmed by requests from authors to have their book added to the list. However, the larger issue was likely one of approvals, since by late 1970 the Quorum of the Twelve had become directly responsible for the approval of the list itself.
The difficulty of amending the list of titles on the approved meetinghouse library list can be seen in the committee’s efforts in 1974. Based on a proposal from Daniel H. Ludlow, then coordinator of Curriculum Planning and Correlation, the Church Library Coordinating Committee and the Meetinghouse Library Committee recommended that the Deseret News Church Almanac and Bruce R. McConkie’s Mormon Doctrine be added to the list.This recommendation was given to Church Librarian Don Schmidt and submitted to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles by Elder Joseph Anderson. Two months later the committee was informed that only the Church Almanac had been approved, and the list was updated accordingly.
The movement to standardize meetinghouse library content also provided the impetus for larger-scale projects for the Church to develop its own correlated content, such as the creation of uniform picture sets and the development of the LDS edition of the scriptures. This work began with a review of existing content initiated in February 13, 1969, when the committee received notice from the Correlation Committee secretaries that they should work with Daniel Ludlow to develop a list of teaching aids already in use as part of the curriculum that should be included in meetinghouse libraries. Lists were requested from the auxiliaries, with a deadline of September 1, 1970.The following month it was further clarified that this list would then serve as “a basic source for writers to know what is available.”
To move this work forward, in June 1969 the Church Library Coordination Committee established a Teaching Aids Task Committee under the direction of Kenneth Slack, a library administrator at the University of Utah and the former library director at the Church College of Hawaii. They were charged with assembling a list of pictures and other materials used in the curriculum.This group met regularly during the summer of 1969, gathering information from most of the auxiliary programs and researching production costs of the materials. Based on their review, the following February the Teaching Aids Task Committee recommended to the Church Library Coordinating Committee that they establish “a master list which would be a standard collection of pictures that have been or will be used most frequently in teaching.”
Based on the Teaching Aids Task Committee’s recommendation, the Church Library Coordination Committee began consulting on the production of teaching aids. In September 1970, Earl Olson and committee secretary Jack Pickrell met with the Church’s Publications Department to discuss the issues surrounding the production of teaching packets issued annually with manuals. They recommended that these be discontinued and the pictures needed for lessons instead be acquired by the meetinghouse library as part of “a standard set of pictures for the current curriculum programs.”Based on this discussion, committee member Darrel Monson developed a proposal for the establishment of an instructional materials committee to correlate the use of pictures within the Church curriculum.
It was not until the following year that plans for a uniform set of images for curricular use moved forward, and then with the assistance of the Internal Communications Department. The public announcement of this change was made by Elder Howard W. Hunter in the Ensign in June 1971.At the same time, Daniel Ludlow was asked to serve as head of the Publications Department and given responsibility for “all materials produced and used by the Church” and to consult with the Church Library Coordinating Committee. In September, the committee attempted to take steps to ensure that teaching packets would in fact be discontinued and worked with Elder Hunter to draft a letter for President Lee. However, due to his position, Ludlow was able to take concrete steps to implement the committee’s vision, and in December 1971 he confirmed that disposable packets would be eliminated from the 1972 manuals. In their place, pictures and other materials would be available through the Distribution Center and references to the previous kits would in the future be referred to as “library packets.”
The decision to eliminate teaching packets combined with the requirement that individual pictures be available for purchase through Distribution made it difficult for the Church to continue to use commercial picture sets previously purchased through external publishers. For example, it was reported that in one case in order to individually sell twelve images listed in the instructional materials catalog, the Church would be required to buy a full packet of eighteen pictures from the publisher. After reviewing these problems, in August 1972 the Church Library Coordinating Committee concluded its work in this area by recommending that in the future all pictures used in teaching be produced directly by the Church, a task later assigned to the Department of Instructional Materials in Internal Communications.
In a similar fashion to the development of Church-produced teaching aids, the forum provided by the Church’s general library committees also played an important role in the standardization of Bibles and biblical resources in the Church, an effort of far-reaching consequence for the Church.Questions related to biblical resources were first raised in 1970 in a brief discussion in the Church Library Coordinating Committee related to concordances included in the list of recommended library books. At the time, libraries were permitted to acquire Alexander Cruden’s A Complete Concordance to the Holy Scriptures and Robert Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Holy Bible, but not James Strong’s The Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. While there was support at the time from the Brigham Young University library staff for adding Strong’s Concordance, the question was deferred as the committee sought the advice of the university Religion Department faculty.
The following year the question of standardization reemerged within the Meetinghouse Library Committee, perhaps as they considered which version of the Bible to include in library inventories. At the time, three different editions of the King James Bible were produced by the Church: a missionary edition, a student Bible for seminaries and institutes, and a large-print edition for the Primary Association.Two members of the committee, George A. Horton Jr. and Grant E. Barton, were particularly interested in moving toward the use of a single version of the text across the curriculum, and in December 1971 they proposed that the Meetinghouse Library Committee distribute a survey to the different auxiliaries to determine what their needs were for the text and its accompanying commentaries and maps. During the discussion in the committee, it was suggested that the issue might be resolved through William James Mortimer of Deseret Book Company, who also served on the committee, but Horton and Barton determined to move ahead with their survey. The results of the survey were then forwarded to Daniel Ludlow, who developed a proposal for the development of a Latter-day Saint edition of the Bible. In September 1972, Elder Thomas S. Monson called a planning meeting related to Bible standardization, to which the Meetinghouse Library Committee sent Barton as a representative. After the proposal was approved by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve in October, the Church Library Coordinating Committee and the Meetinghouse Library Committee continued to be provided with periodic updates on the project until its completion in 1979.
A final area of library development begun during this period was the institution of new filing systems for managing meetinghouse library materials, replacing accession lists and classification systems with uniform identifiers. The idea of using a numeric code for managing the meetinghouse library inventory was introduced by the Teaching Aids Task Committee in November 1969. While images had previously been organized according to a basic subject classification system developed by the Deseret Sunday School, Kenneth Slack’s committee recommended that they move instead to “a subject serial number system for organizing materials in the library” for all materials except books.They also proposed that the new subject list be aligned with the Church’s index to periodicals and be published and available independently.
As this new numbering system developed during the following year, the role of these numbers was expanded and standardized. Under the new system, the numbers came to serve “as the order number, manual reference number, and location code in the library.”The codes themselves were composed of a two-letter code indicating the type of material, and a three-letter code for the location of the item. This serial number system was then integrated into planning for the Instructional Materials Catalog developed in 1971, which included images and descriptions of the items along with a subject and title index.
The use of uniform descriptions and alignment between the Distribution Center catalog and library organization simplified maintenance while discouraging the acquisition of materials not produced by the Church. Pictures and other items acquired by meetinghouse libraries from sources other than the Distribution Center were assigned an accession number and added to the local library index. The Dewey Decimal System previously used for books was also abandoned in favor of accession numbers.In order to simplify the development of local indexes, in 1972 Russell Davis proposed that sets of preprinted subject cards be made available based on the categories in the Instructional Materials Catalog. Maintaining the published catalog became a primary focus of the meetinghouse library program, both in terms of organization and content.
Committee Realignment and Termination
Due to the close working relationship between the Internal Communications Department and the Church Library Coordinating Committee related to meetinghouse libraries, in February 1973, Daniel Ludlow requested that responsibility for the meetinghouse library program be transferred from the Historical Department and the Church Library Coordinating Committee to Internal Communications. Within the Historical Department, this proposed transfer was seen as a way to further align meetinghouse library content with curriculum support and was not initially opposed.This transfer was approved by the First Presidency, and the program was moved to the twenty-fourth floor of the Church Office Building in April 1973. However, by early 1974, Darrel Monson was circulating proposals within the Church Library Coordinating Committee recommending that the meetinghouse library program be returned to their supervision. The main reason for the proposal was a sense that the program should be closely related to the Church Library system, but also that the purpose of the meetinghouse library should be wider than simple curriculum support. Meetinghouse libraries supported “genealogical services, family home evening, auxiliary lessons, scouting, missionary activities, seminaries and institutes, individual research, teacher development, priesthood lessons, choir music and other music, recording equipment for patriarchs, MIA activities and equipment, individual study, individual talks.” This justification was echoed in S. Lyman Tyler’s continued advocacy on the committee for a wider scope of library service that would “incorporate all materials which might be needed for answering questions or doing research.”
In response to the proposal, further administrative changes were made, though their effects were mixed. Under the direction of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve, the meetinghouse library program was transferred back to the Historical Department on May 16, 1974.In the letter announcing the change, Elder Ezra Taft Benson delineated the responsibilities of each group, limiting the Historical Department’s role to “the establishment of library procedures, the training of meetinghouse librarians, and the coding and indexing of library material.” The development and methods of using teaching aids was left entirely to the Internal Communications Department. The Meetinghouse Library Committee was further hobbled by the decision not to return it to its previous position under the direction of the Church Library Coordinating Committee, but to make it administratively subordinate to Earl Olson and the Historical Department. With no connection to meetinghouse libraries, the Church Library Coordinating Committee reduced the frequency of their meetings and struggled to establish new goals. The Meetinghouse Library Committee continued to meet separately and worked to further streamline library operations but did not significantly change the program developed in the early 1970s.
Due to the static nature of the committees’ work, the justification for their existence seems to have dissipated. In June 1978, in response to a general Church directive to “simplify and reduce, and to eliminate committees where possible,” the Historical Department requested that the First Presidency dissolve both the Church Library Coordinating Committee and the Meetinghouse Library Committee.In the case of the Meetinghouse Library Committee, this move was supported by the claim that “the Church has become too large for our committee of experts to really function beyond the Wasatch front.” This recommendation was approved, and the committee’s last meeting was held on November 30, 1978. In January 1979, the Meetinghouse Library Division of the Historical Department was disbanded and direction of the program devolved to a “small, in-house, informal staff group” consisting of Earl Olson, Don Schmidt, and Glenn N. Rowe.
With the removal of its advisory committees, the Historical Department group reduced the scope of the meetinghouse library program. As described in the Historical Department’s five-year report in 1980, following the termination of the committee, the library bulletin published for meetinghouse librarians was discontinued, and the efforts to collocate branch genealogical libraries and meetinghouse libraries were abandoned.However, the procedures the program standardized during the previous decade remained largely unchanged in the decades that followed.
The meetinghouse library program envisioned by S. Lyman Tyler and developed by the Church in the 1960s and 1970s was based on an expansive vision of libraries as resource centers, providing members with a range of resources to meet their information needs. This was a significant departure from earlier libraries developed by the Deseret Sunday School (which focused entirely on curricular support) and brought the Church in line with ideas from the wider church library movement under way in the United States. With the support of the First Presidency and Church administration, using library facilities became a normal part of the Church experience for congregations throughout the world. Unlike libraries in other denominations, however, meetinghouse libraries in the Church were asked to be selective in their acquisitions, particularly when purchasing books, due to their role as part of a larger system of Church libraries that could provide a wider range of resources as needed.
This limitation, while well-meaning, prevented the full development of meetinghouse libraries and forced them to remain focused on curriculum support. As part of their work to develop policies for library-based concerns of acquisitions, cataloging, and inventory control, the Church Library Coordinating Committee contributed to reductions in the range of resources that could be provided through meetinghouse libraries and the standardization of content used in Church curriculum. While its close association with the Correlation Committee and Internal Communications initially assisted in the expansion of library services, it ultimately redirected the program from serving as a general information resource further toward being a curriculum center.
The decision to shift away from Tyler’s vision of a Churchwide system of libraries toward a system of correlated resources is still felt today with the ongoing transformation of meetinghouse library services. Since 2006, Church policy has restricted meetinghouse libraries from providing access to any materials not produced by the Church.At the same time, the development of the Church website and mobile applications such as Gospel Library have both expanded access to approved content while marginalizing physical meetinghouse libraries and their existing collections. In newly constructed chapels, the library is now termed the Materials Center and is described as being intended for “secured storage of curriculum materials, audiovisual equipment, and a copy machine.” As resources continue to move online, where they can be more easily managed and updated, it is unclear what the future of meetinghouse libraries will hold.
Beginning Library List, 1954
In 1954, the Deseret Sunday School Union Board included this list in their Teaching Aids and Library Guidebook, page 13.
The Beginning Library
The beginning library should be extensive enough to have some practical and useful value. The following items are suggested to start the library functioning:
Pictures (about 500). See Chapter 8 on pictures for mountings, etc.
The Instructor issues of the last three years. (Two volumes of each.)
The Improvement Era issues of the last three years. (Two volumes of each.)
Children’s Friend issues of the last three years. (Two volumes of each.)
Relief Society Magazine issues of the last three years. (Two volumes of each.)
Deseret News Church Section issues of the last three years. (Two volumes of each.)
Conference Reports for the last three years. (Two volumes of each.)
Sunday School Manuals and Teacher’s Supplements—All in current use.
Gospel Doctrine Manuals for the last three years.
Articles of Faith, by James E. Talmage.
Eight copies of the Bible.
Eight copies of the Book of Mormon.
Four copies of the Doctrine & Covenants.
Four copies of the Pearl of Great Price.
Jesus the Christ, by James E. Talmage.
Essentials in Church History, by Joseph Fielding Smith.
The Way To Perfection, by Joseph Fielding Smith.
A Rational Theology, by John A. Widtsoe.
Gospel Ideals, by David O. McKay.
Consider the Children and How They Grow, by Elizabeth Manwell and Sophia Fahs.
A Study of Young Children, by Ruth Strang.
Songs to Sing for L. D. S. Children (edited) by Alexander Schreiner. (Two copies.)
The Children Sing, L. D. S. hymns for little children.
Teaching As The Direction of Activities, by John T. Wahlquist.
Principles of Teaching, by Adam S. Bennion.
The Master’s Art, by Howard R. Driggs.
Maps as suggested in the section on maps.
A blackboard for each class.
Chalk, erasers, and other supplies. See Chapter 15 on “Supplies.”
Basic List of Titles, 1967
The Church Library and Instructional Materials Committee published this list in their Information Series (no. 1 [December 1, 1967]: 6).
The following library materials are recommended as basic titles that are desirable for each Ward Library and Instructional Center:
A. Standard Works Bible Book of Mormon Doctrine and Covenants Pearl of Great Price B. Books Articles of Faith, by James E. Talmage Documentary History of the Church, 7 Volumes Essentials in Church History, by Joseph Fielding Smith Jesus the Christ, by James E. Talmage C. Periodicals/Serial
Children’s Friend Church News Conference Reports Improvement Era Index to Church Periodicals Instructor Priesthood Bulletin Relief Society Magazine D. Handbooks Aaronic Priesthood—Adult, Handbook for Leaders Aaronic Priesthood—Youth, Handbook for Leaders Conducting the Oral Evaluation General Handbook of Instructions Melchizedek Priesthood Handbook Priesthood Genealogy Handbook Priesthood Home Teaching Handbook Priesthood Missionary Program Fellowshipping Manual Suggestions for Operating Stake Missions Suggestions for Stake Missionaries Welfare Plan . . . Handbook of Instructions E. Manuals Current manuals of all auxiliary and priesthood organizations Family Home Evening Manual F. Catalogs Catalogs of Motion Picture Films available from Brigham Young University and Deseret Book Company.
Expanded List of Recommended Texts, 1969
This list appeared in the Church Library Coordinating Committee Library Bulletin (no. 4 : 3–4).
A list of books recommended for the meetinghouse library was published in Information Series 1. The following books are recommended as an addition to that list:
Discourses of Brigham Young, John A. Widtsoe, compiler
Doctrines of Salvation (3 Vols.), Joseph Fielding Smith
Gospel Doctrine, Joseph F. Smith
Gospel Ideals, David O. McKay
Great Apostasy, James E. Talmage
House of the Lord, James E. Talmage
A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, LeGrand Richards
The Presidents of the Church, Preston Nibley
The Restored Church, William E. Berrett
Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Joseph Fielding Smith
Truth Restored, Gordon B. Hinckley
List of Approved Library Publications, 1970
The Church Library Coordinating Committee produced this list in 1970 in their Meetinghouse Library Technical Manual, section 4.
List of Books, Handbooks, Manuals, Periodicals, and Catalogs
A. The following approved publications are recommended for procurement by each meetinghouse library.
Book of Mormon
Doctrine and Covenants
Pearl of Great Price
Articles of Faith, James E. Talmage
Discourses of Brigham Young, John A. Widtsoe, compiler
Doctrines of Salvation, Joseph Fielding Smith
Essentials in Church History, Joseph Fielding Smith
Gospel Doctrine, Joseph F. Smith
Gospel Ideals, David O. McKay
The Great Apostasy, James E. Talmage
History of the Church, Period 1 (Documentary: 7 vols.), Joseph Smith
House of the Lord, James E. Talmage
Jesus the Christ, James E. Talmage
A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, LeGrand Richards
Meet the Mormons, Doyle L. Green and Randall L. Green
Presidents of the Church, Preston Nibley
The Restored Church, William E. Berrett
Sing With Me
Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Joseph Fielding Smith, comp.
Truth Restored, Gordon B. Hinckley
What of the Mormons, Gordon B. Hinckley
2. Handbooks—current issues
Auxiliary organizations handbooks
General Handbook of Instructions
Meetinghouse Library Handbook
Melchizedek Priesthood Handbook
Priesthood Genealogy Handbook
Priesthood Home Teaching Handbook
Priesthood Missionary Program Fellowshipping Manual
Suggestions for Operating Stake Missions
Suggestions for Stake Missionaries
Welfare Plan—Handbook of Instructions
3. Manuals—current issues
Aaronic Priesthood-Youth: Deacons, Teachers, Priests
Conducting the Oral Evaluation
Family Home Evening Manual
Genealogical Society—A Continuing Priesthood Program for Family Exaltation
—Records Submission Manual
Instructional Materials Index for Sunday School Teaching Aids Specialists
Pictorial Teaching Aids in the Instructor
Priesthood Correlation in Home Teaching
4. Periodicals/Serials—for the past ten years
The Children’s Friend
The Improvement Era
Index to LDS Church Periodicals
The Relief Society Magazine
B. The following books are suggested as useful reference works for meetinghouse libraries.
Bible Atlas (or Westminster Historical Atlas), Kraeling
Bible Concordance, Creden, or Robert Young
A Complete Concordance to the Book of Mormon, George Reynolds
Comprehensive History of the Church, B. H. Roberts
Concordance to the Doctrine and Covenants, John V. Bluth
Concordance to the Pearl of Great Price, Lynn M. Hilton
Dictionary of the Bible, Hastings, or Smith
Priesthood and Church Government, John A. Widtsoe
C. The following catalogs are suggested as useful reference sources for instructional materials
BYU Catalog of Sound Recordings
Catalogs of commercial 16-mm motion picture films
LDS Church Publications Price List
Library Supplies Catalog
Motion Pictures Produced by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Supply catalogs for auxiliary organizations
Teaching Aids and Audio Visual Media Catalog
Ward, Branch, Stake, District, Mission Catalog