July 7, 2009
“Now that we can see the finish line in completing inventory of our collection, our thoughts are turning [to] volunteers, which leads, in our minds, to job descriptions. Do any of you have descriptions you'd care to share with us?
Also, do your churches do a background check on library staff?”
Share your ideas.
Children’s programs were highlighted at the fall workshop. Participants talked about children’s library programs happening at their churches.
Mother-daughter duo, Chris and Hannah A. from Peace Lutheran in Lombard, IL, talked to the group about their success with a summer book club they started for Hannah and her friends. The girls met initially to decide on the books they would read. Each family then hosted a discussion. Food, crafts and activities related to the books enriched each discussion time.
Helen H., Good Shepherd Lutheran, Naperville, IL, described her library’s NASCAR-themed program, “Driven to Read.” The group goal to read 100 books was met and matched by Thrivent Financial who sent 100 books to a church library devastated by Hurricane Katrina. This gave the children an opportunity to work toward a charitable goal.
Betsy P., St. John’s Lutheran, Union, IL, told of her library’s collaboration with Sunday School to develop a rotating model which incorporates library time. Children follow a Bible story for a month. They are divided into three groups, each spending a week in crafts, games, or library story time. Different methods of engaging the children in story are used. Youngest children are read to; puppets are used to tell the story to first and second graders; and older children learn by acting out the story using scripts.
Diane A., First Presbyterian, LaGrange, IL, told about her library reading program “WINGS” (Walking in God’s Service). Readers received coupons, ice cream, and treats when they achieved their goals. Yum!
Focus on Fiction was the theme for the chapter’s spring workshop. Author Lynn Austin spoke about Christian fiction, autographed copies of her books and chatted with participants. Host church Gloria Dei Lutheran, Downers Grove, IL, just completed new construction and the group enjoyed visiting the new library space.
“Why is the church library so important to the life of the church?” asks Chapter President Natalie Johnson in the chapter newsletter. “It contributes to the building up of the Body of Christ. On the shelves of the church library are a diverse group of books which offer resources for church leaders, devotional literature to help the congregation grow spiritually, and books of encouragement for those who are ill, or grieving, or poor in spirit.
“There are books that make us laugh and books that make us cry. You will find fiction, humor, music, biographies, poetry and so much more. And it is not just books in today’s church library—there are CDs and DVDs and maybe even computer software for Bible study.
“Books can change lives and if one book you share with someone changes a life, then you have made a difference. Being a church librarian is a great gift to the congregation in sharing the Good News!”
So your church doesn’t have a library, but you think it’s a good idea to have one. Where do you begin? Who should you talk to? What do you need?
Begin with YOU
Don’t wait for someone else to light the fire under the bacon. You’re the one with the desire, the enthusiasm. Why not you?
Who should you talk to? Lots of people. Your pastor, for one, but don’t start with him/her/them. Wait until you have a good case, then you’ll be ready to sell the idea if necessary. Float the idea with other avid readers. Brainstorm the kind of materials you think a library should provide, the kind of books people in your congregation would likely read—and need. Speculate about a suitable place and how it would be run.
Don’t go it alone!
Let’s say you find you aren’t the only one who thinks a library is a good idea. Church libraries require time and work. See if you can enlist people who will commit to help set it up and keep it going if you get an okay from headquarters. Many a project has permanently stalled at one stage or another because the idea lacked backers. If you don’t find sufficient support, drop the idea at least for a while. Pray about it. Consider alternatives. Would a book club, say, serve the purpose you have in mind?
The purpose-driven library
Why should a church have a library anyway? Especially in this world of public libraries, and books for sale in grocery stores and airport shops, not to mention wonderful book discount sites. Wouldn’t it be much cheaper and simpler to search the Internet for religious information than pour money into a series of Bible commentaries?
Why should your church, specifically, have a library? Are there wants and needs that cannot be filled by the aforementioned avenues? Seriously explore these questions with others. How about joining forces with other churches to form a Christian media resource center in your community?
Warning: If you start from the proposition “a church library should have,” you may gather a fine collection of books that no one will check out—if they even bother to see what you offer. Success is far more likely if you customize your collection to the reading habits and needs of your congregation. For example, you may have readers who like Christian novels. Even if they belong to a Christian novel book club, the church library could be a repository of novels they are willing to share with others. Spiritual Growth is another category of books that are less available outside churches.
Preach to the choir
Don’t worry about non-readers. Make an effort to learn which people in your congregation read and focus on them. They’ll supply the most powerful publicity, to wit: “That’s a terrific book! I donated my copy to the library, and you can get it there.” When you add books, do it with those readers in mind, and be sure you let them know it.
Keep it simple!
Has the Dewey Decimal system gone the way of the dinosaurs? Surprise! It hasn’t. Most people are familiar with this system from school days. And if you “computerize” your collection, the software is most likely to use Dewey.
You may be tempting to set up a less formal organizational system. But churches that have tried other ways of organizing their books have usually found it wasn’t as simple and effective as they expected. An acceptable compromise might be to stop at one number past the decimal rather than be more specific, and post subject categories on the shelves for quick directions.
Make an easily accessed, easily used library your goal. The traditional tried and true Dewey Decimal System serves that purpose.
Do you really need a library budget? If your church values its library, it will provide funds to buy cataloging supplies as well as an influx of new books.
Beyond such basic funding, your library can benefit greatly from a wise approach to donations. With so many people buying books—and often discarding them after reading—a judicious openness to donations can swell your collection of newer books. A clear library policy that specifies what you will accept is essential, but make it equally clear that you do welcome donations—and be on the lookout for and even solicit them. Otherwise, good books that you’d love to have in your library may wind up being donated to the church rummage sale instead. You may occasionally be offered a personal library from a church member’s estate, which can be overwhelming. Subject those books to your usual acceptance standards, and pre-weed older material and that less likely to circulate. But be sure to express gratitude for the gems you keep.
Many churches invest in a computer and library software, which can be a great help to both librarian and reader. Look into covering that sizeable expense through Memorial funds, or perhaps a personal donation. So far as you can, make sure the computer is powerful enough to cover future needs.
And the verdict is . . .
After you prayerfully contemplate whether your church should undertake a ministry for readers, and examine its feasibility and begin to flesh out a vision, you will deliver the verdict.
As our tanking economy slows down book sales it also may cause readers to take a second look at the church library. This may be the perfect time to provide one.
July 6, 2009
Tuesday was a HUGE demolition day! Here are the before pictures:
The lounge will be completely gutted
The two walls with the windows and the brown paneled wall seen through the doorway are all going to be removed, all of the ceiling tile/supporting brackets in the lounge, library and adjacent hallways, removed carpeting some to be reused and some discarded, removed two interior windows.
Here are the after pictures:
And the trailer that hauled it all of way:
All of this was done by a group of 4 volunteers who worked all day plus about 6 others who helped for parts of the day!
Now we are done in this area until the contractors finish their work with new walls, ceiling, and electrical for lighting.
Now we need to work on putting the new lounge together. Having a contractor reinstall the carpeting and finding volunteers to paint, build a closet and move furniture back in.