SALT LAKE CITY — The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints broke ground today for a new Church History Library in downtown Salt Lake City.

This new library will incorporate updated technology and significantly increase archival storage capacity to preserve Church records. The library will house nearly 25 miles of shelving containing books, pamphlets, journals, manuscripts, photographs, microfilm, microfiche, audiovisual items and other published and unpublished works.

When completed, scholars, Church members and other researchers will enjoy expanded research facilities and enhanced access to Church historical collections.

President Gordon B. Hinckley offered remarks and a dedicatory prayer on the building site at the northeast corner of the intersection of North Temple and Main streets. President Thomas S. Monson and President James E. Faust, his counselors in the First Presidency, also spoke briefly.

More than 400 invited guests attended the event, including general authorities, local government officials and employees and missionaries of the Church history divisions of the Family and Church History Department.

In his remarks, President Hinckley explained that Church historians have kept careful records since the Church’s founding in 1830. He expressed “gratitude and appreciation that the custodians of the records of the Church through all of the years of its existence have been so conscientious and dutiful and helpful and devoted in every respect.”

In keeping with the historic significance of the day, President Hinckley turned the first spade of earth with a small fireplace shovel made by Brigham Young, second president of the Church. The shovel was used by Elder G. Homer Durham, then serving as Church historian and recorder, in the 1984 groundbreaking ceremony for the Museum of Church History and Art.

MHTN Architects, Inc., a Salt Lake City-based firm, has designed the new library to visually complement the Conference Center across Main Street to its west. MHTN and specialists from the Family and Church History Department have consulted with international experts in records preservation and archival design to ensure that this facility will employ best-available lighting, humidity and temperature controls, as well as fire and seismic protection.

Jacobsen/Swinerton, a joint venture, will serve as general contractor for the building. Construction will begin later this year, and completion is scheduled for late 2007.