First, a word about what the Family History Library is and why having access to its collections is so important. [You can also visit this website for a brief overview of this unique facility: https://familysearch.org/locations/saltlakecity-library
The Family History Library (FHL) is one of the main attractions located on Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah. It is the largest repository in the world of microfilm, microfiche, books, and other resources (such as maps) used to conduct family history research. Since 1938 FamilySearch has captured 3.1 billion records, most stored on 2.5 million rolls of microfilm from 202 different countries. Twenty-three percent of the images in the Granite Mountain vault have been digitized to date, with the remaining to be microfilmed in 3 to 4 years. [Note that the “Granite Mountain” is a mass of solid rock one mile up Little Cottonwood Canyon in the Wasatch Range of Utah, not too far from Salt Lake City. Despite its name, however, Granite Mountain is primarily composed of quartz.]
Six hundred million images from 1,225 archives have been published online so far and FamilySearch is adding about a million images per day. In addition, they have published nearly 3 billion searchable names. The number of records is increasing by about 1.1 million records per day and currently contains just under 2 million names. 80 to 100 million records are being added per year using 300 camera crews in 48 different countries. So you can see that this is an invaluable resource for your genealogical activities.
Your guide to these records is the Family History Library Catalog. This Catalog describes the records in each collection of the Family History Library. It tells you which record collections contain the primary (and secondary) records for your ancestors, including births, marriages, and deaths; census records; church registers; and many other records.
There are two versions of the catalog available online. The latest version is at: https://familysearch.org/#form=catalog. The earlier version is at: https://familysearch.org/eng/library/fhlc/ (Some people seem to prefer the interface of the earlier version over that of the new one.)
For instructions on using these catalogs, go to: https://www.familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/Introduction_to_the_Family_History_Library_Catalog
Now, to the actual “lookup” process. When you have located the book, microfiche, or microfilm listed in the catalog that you need, you have three options:
a) Physically go to the FHL yourself and view or look up the record. This option requires you to travel to Salt Lake City, Utah, which may not be feasible for many people.
b) Order the item to be sent to your nearest Family History Center. For locations and instructions on how to do this, go to: https://www.familysearch.org/films/. This option sometimes takes several weeks before the film is received and can only be used for microfilm and microfiche, not books.
c) Have someone go to the FHL for you to physically retrieve, view and record and/or copy the contents of the desired record. This option is referred to as a “FHL Lookup Request” and is available for books, microfilm, and microfiche. This service is provided when you click the “Like” button on the Rootsonomy Facebook page for the first time. For those who do not live in the Salt Lake area, this is the fastest, easiest way to obtain information from the actual record. Requests are processed usually within 48 hours and the results are sent to you electronically.