We've probably all heard the expression, "When Life hands you lemons, make lemonade!" Well, I'm not sure what Scripture might apply to a situation like that, but we had a medium-sized room for a library that was fine, except that several things beyond our control changed, and what was once a thriving location for us became known as "The Cave." Our library was no longer a location where the main congregation could access it easily or quickly, and as we all know, just as in real estate, location is everything! We were down to circulating less than 10 items on average a month; on some Sundays, no checkouts at all!
We prayed for several years and finally convinced the board to let us move into a tiny room which had funtioned as a book store under the previous pastor, but was now turning into a junk room! We weeded dramatically and with the assistance of our talented custodian/carpenter, refit the room with shelving on two sides. He also built a return bin on casters for outside the library door, so books can be returned even when we're closed.
We managed to get a remaining collection of about 1,500 items into this small room by using three roll-out display carts in addition to the two walls of our room (one side is nonfiction, one side is fiction, and the third side is our counter area - it's almost a pie-shaped room squeezed into a corner of the hallway!). When we open, we roll the carts (which hold Children's, Youth, Young Adult, New Books, and monthly Featured Items) out into the open hallway area in front of the library which is a main access point from the front entrance to the adult classrooms as well as two of the sanctuary entrances and a staircase. We utilize about twice as much area outside in the hall as we have floor space inside the library itself, which puts our display carts right in the midst of the morning traffic flow! We now circulate about double the number of books plus DVDs each Sunday on average than we did in a month at our old location! In response, our church board doubled our annual support budget!
Here are some other ways to "make lemonade" when circumstances are difficult. I hope others will share some ideas that have worked for them.
One way we stock our library is with donations or swaps. You probably get donations from your church patrons, but have you considered swapping duplicates with other church libraries? Our (Southern California) church librarians' group meets twice a year and we usually have plenty to swap - are there other church libraries in your area that might want to get together for fellowship and a book swap?
Sometimes members bring things other than books to share as well - supplies no longer needed, etc. In addition, we also share info with our group via email. Most recently, a movie/game store chain closed in our state, and several of our members bought display units for pennies on the dollar.
Here are some pictures we took last year. Unfortunately we didn't take a picture of our check-in/out counter, which has just enough room for two folks to stand behind. It has shelving and a small side area where we have a laptop computer to enter our data into. Our counters are a teal-grey color. When we moved in, our book ends were all mismatched - beige, black, grey, and our shelf label holders were black. I picked out a color of metallic teal spray paint and our custodian spray painted all the label holders and bookends - what a difference! They now all match each other and the countertops and look great! It took several cans but cost less than $20 but made a big impact since they gave the room a "custom" feel