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.
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  • (Sorry this got separated from the pictures). The first photo shows the New Arrivals (on the back are the Young Adult items), and children's items that are ready to check out. (These are two of our three displays).You can see the actual library room to the right. The checkout area is directly behind the window area. You can see half of our nonfiction collection from the doorway. The small room extends only about 7 more feet deep beyond the area you see. The 2nd photo is inside in front of the nonfiction section. The 3rd photo shows the nonfiction on the left, the DVD cart, and the fiction on the right. The room is shaped like a pie wedge with a blunt tip - which is a very short 4th wall that you see here. Our custodian/carpenter moved in two bookcases intact for the nonfiction, then cut up our other two to create the overhead shelving where you see the staggered shelving on the left top just above the cart, and the fiction shelving which is supported by the woodtone cabinets that were already in place. Then he took off several of the cabinet doors and now we shelve the older series books down below, since our upper space is very limited. Another storage "trick" we use is a set of 6 small colorful tote baskets (bought at a "Dollar" store) for the small board books - we display them on a bench area outside the library (not pictured) for the little ones to browse through. Later, they get stored on the bottom shelf of the big rack. In addition to the 6 people shown we have 3 more "Team Members." (I am in the turquoise top.)
  • You have a BEAUTIFUL, inviting space! THANK YOU for sharing it with us. You have made some great tasting lemonade!!!
  • 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

  • What a great testimony to start my day!!! We are currently weeding in preparation for our move to a new church building. Even though we will be downsized a bit in space, I am very thankful for the EXCELLENT location we have been given. I am anxious to share pictures when we move in. Do you have pictures of your space? God gave you all some great creativity and wonderful assistance in carpentry. HE rewarded your obedience in relocation!
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