The Library Lady

I don't know if you'd call her the Church Librarian, because "librarian" implies (to me) someone with a Library Science degree that works in a Real Library. Church libraries, on the other hand, are typically stuck in some dark corner, there more out of obligation rather than heavy demand. The dusty shelves typically hold a gazillion copies of the Left Behind series, and old volumes of Bible commentaries, along with the fad books that were donated once the fad was over. Purpose Driven Life. Prayer of Jabez. You know what I mean.

The library at our church is in a hallway- a thoroughfare between different wings of the church. It gets moderate use, but not nearly as much as you'd expect at a church of 6000 members. The fiction section is popular with the Women's Ministry crowd, and the service DVDs are hard to keep on the shelves, especially when a pastor mentions a previous service & suggests we go get the DVD if we missed it. The children's library actually has its own room and is pretty popular with kids to run in and out of and play in. The "Busy Baskets" for kids to take into service get some use, too.

I've been volunteering helping with the library for a little while now. I've known the Library Lady for a long while- since I was in junior high!- and she knew I worked at our city's library in high school, so when she was looking for help, she asked me. I will shelve books and media, and process the recently-checked-out items, and straighten the shelves. Pretty simple stuff, that's actually kind of relaxing for me. I can alphabetize in my sleep.

Well, the Library Lady is older, and has been stepping back from other ministries she's involved in. Last week, I got an email form the Library Lady- would I like to take over the library operations? Wow. Me? In charge of my (mega)church's library? I suppose I could shelve books with the best of them, and I can help people find what they need, and I live close enough to the church to make trips during the week with not much inconvenience... but to be responsible for it all? To be the go-to contact for things like donations and lost or overdue books and redecorating and cleaning? The library has no budget and reportedly little priority from the church- can I deal with that, too?

Maybe I'm crazy, but I accepted. I'm now The Church Library Lady.

The former Library Lady promised to still be my "#1 volunteer" and pass on everything she can remember that she does. My mom & Josh have also offered to help as they can. Hopefully I haven't gotten in over my head, with work and family and the house and the dog and the garden, and now the church library. I think I can do it, especially if I give it to God as His ministry- which it ought to be anyway. I definitely like the idea of helping out in the library as opposed to our church bookstore... but that's another issue. I'll encourage people to go to the bookstore to buy all the fair-trade goods, and then come to the library to get books :)

This could be fun!

Do you have any suggestions for the library? Have you seen any great church library ideas? What's your opinion on The Church Library?


Amy said...

Congrats your new position. I love being in a library so I think a library job would be fun. I have never been part of a congregation that really had one so I can't help with suggestions, but it sounds like a great job!

Brett said...

Without actually visiting the library, I can't really offer a lot of suggestions. However, I happen to be married to a most excellent librarian. She's far more qualified to offer ideas than I'll ever be. If you'd like to talk with her, let me know.

And, yes, using the term Librarian does indicate an individual with a Master's Degree in Library or Information Science. Not to be picky but I like to give credit where credit is due (especially when it goes to my wife).

Kristen said...

Congrats on the new "job". You have a nice library to work with :) All I can say is make sure you know about the books to have b/c I figure some people will only know a topic or idea of what they want, not the actual book.

Anonymous said...

Good luck! I've always thought that would be fun. One suggestion: If you have room, people are much more likely to check out books that are displayed with the front cover.
Also,perhaps you could do a monthtly theme where you display a type of book (a.k.a. self-help ...)

Anonymous said...

Architect Ron Geyer has some thought-provoking comments about congregational library design and its relationship to library mission. See his July 25 posting "Four Reasons to Library" on the ChurchthatMoves blog:


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