Right now I'm feeling very discouraged. It was my hope to get our people involved with the library more if I promoted and celebrated National Church Library Month during the month of October. I set up a book reading challenge, to read a book and enter the drawing for each book read. The drawing is to be this coming Sunday. So far I've had only three people enter the drawing, with each of them entering a couple of times. I also had a shelf reading volunteer day during one week and a volunteer day the following week to help process books. One volunteer came for the first event and none for the second one. I gave out bookmarks with the Dewey numbers and subjects (the religious section) on one side and library hours on the other and reminder about the new K-cup coffee brewer that is in the library. I published the third quarter library newsletter with lots of book reviews and pictures. On Sunday October 29, library survey sheets will be handed out. Hopefully, people will fill them out honestly and get them back to me so that I can get a feeling of whether the library really means anything to them. My two pastors want me to continue because it is a good library and they like having it available for times when needed. I've prayed about this numerous times but something must be blocking me receiving answers. Or maybe no answer means just keep on keeping on. I must confess that I'm at a complete loss as to if this is a worthwhile ministry even if it's not much used. Approximately 5 to 15 items are checked out per month. I would be most happy to receive some input on this. Thanks.
Ann, be encouraged. You are not alone. From my observation, church library ministry is not the only ministry in our churches that are struggling. As you have seen on the CLN, churches are rethinking their ministries including their libraries. Have you seen the article in Facts & Trends this month? That is a signal that something is happening. The November 4th conference at Central Baptist in Decatur is a unique event that is attracting pastors and staff as well as church librarians as we intentionally consider collaboration among the ministries. We are excited by how many pastors are registering for this conference! Be watching the CLN as we post more and more ideas regarding ways our church libraries can play strategic roles in making disciples with the other ministries of the church. Be encouraged. Our prayers go with you and your team.
I say hang in there for a while yet. Your key sentence is you have two pastors who want you to continue because they seemingly value you and your "good library". The most important words in that sentence are "when needed". I think all church librarians struggle with how to continue to be relevant in our times,and that happens most for people when they are in times of need! People don't need you until they are searching for something. Ask your pastors when are these times of need? Watch for and be sensitive to opportunities for people in need and and look beyond your own membership. They often are not members of your own church. Does your church host AA, or an Alpha Group or "Moms and Tots"? (or an equivalent?). Is the hall a polling station during election times? Does it host seniors coffee or exercise class? Have a outdoors community garden or outdoor book box? Or do Funerals or marriages? If your library is well located and even if not,direct attention to it with bright,fresh signage addressing these issues people may have. And yes, this might mean your library is open to the public all week. I say if you lose something (which in my experience is not often)it's just the cost of doing good business.
Our church has a cafe right beside our library, so adding a coffee service would not work for us. Because of the pre-school program at our church, our circulation is much higher than yours (class can check out for use in the classroom...but not to take home. Teachers can check out as regular borrowers tho.) We have Storytime every week for the children and are open for our weekly Bible Study attendees. But I, too, am discouraged about circulation. It's never been high, but as our church has grown (now almost 2000 members), I would also expect higher circulation numbers. Promotion ideas please!
I understand your frustration. Just keep on keeping on. Constant promotion will pay off, but no matter what you do some people will just not use the library. I see so many people passing by our library on Sundays who never even set foot in here to see what we have. We try to reach them through email newsletters to the church membership and we are open for at least four hours six days a week.
Try to keep your collection relevant with the newest most popular titles. Of course, that takes funds. If your financial support is low try to find out those in your church who read a lot of books in Christian fiction, Bible, Christian life and who buy the latest Christian movies on DVD. Get them to donate these items to the library and feature them prominently. It looks like you are already doing a lot of great things. Don't get discouraged just keep on. The Lord will bless your efforts.
Hi Ann, This sounds so familiar. Many of our libraries suffer from the same malady. One idea I tried years ago was to take a stack of books to each committee meeting in the church with the books being on subjects that might be of help to them in their ministry in the congregation - such as leadership books for the council or elders (whatever the governing board is called), teaching ideas for Sunday school, etc. If there are adult classes, putting a small collection of books in the room where they meet covering the subject being studied might generate some interest. Had hoped to see you at this summer's PNACL conference, had been wondering how you were getting along. Dee
I agree with the others, don't give up. I come here regularly to get library promotion ideas, but our library is mostly neglected. We have less than 10 patrons that come in on a regular basis. Our budget is $500. They are mostly checking out Christian Fiction so that is what I'm buying. I will also buy Charles Stanley, Max Lucado, Billy Graham, Beth Moore and a few others but most of the time it's a waste of money because no one checks them out. I'm the Librarian and the Church Secretary so in 2018, I'm going to have a monthly promotion. I just haven't decided if it will be by author or subject.
I also want to send out letters to all of our Church families (120) in January encouraging them to use the Library and I really like the idea of a Library Newsletter. Promotion, promotion, promotion. I feel like this is the best way to entice more users. I just need to be more consistent with things I start. As Paul Adams said, "The Lord will bless your efforts." Don't give up.
I say keep trying. I think many of us are struggling. One of my issues is that our library is not in the Church itself and not open on Sundays so it makes it harder to get the word out that it is here. What I decided to do is make the library the ministry to the other ministries. I created flyers for the ministry leaders and called many of the up to let them know what resources the library has that will help in t heir ministry and asked them to encourage their members to use the library. This has helped a lot. I will also be implementing several surveys -- one for the ministry leaders, one for individual families that attend our Church, and one aimed at the teenagers.
I have been using some of the resources from Libraries Transform to help promote the library.
I feel like an idiot though because I didn't realize October was Church Library Month and didn't do anything. I haven't been on this forum in far too long and need to change that!
Please, please don't give up. I've been working in our library for three years now. I am starting to see the fruits of my labor now. What has worked for me is to heavily promote the library to the children and families in our church. I've noticed that once the children come in, their parents and grandparents come in to check out books as well. I will regularly ask people what they like to read so I can get a good idea of what they like to read so I'm better able to suggest things.
I wish you good luck. I hope you are able to stick it out.