As We Begin the New Year . . .

What problems are challenging our church’s/synagogue’s library teams? Let’s encourage each other with our prayers and encouragement. Perhaps there is comfort in finding out that our teams are not the only ones facing that challenge. Or we may find someone in the Church Librarians Network who has been through that challenge before us. His or her experience may help us.

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  • Idea how you send a message about your library:
    Maybe you can ask a member of your church to build a "tiny library shed". It will popularize reading. And, include a message about your new church library. There are two little shed libraries in my neighborhood like this, always with new books!


    • That looks great!!

  • When I took over the library it was in boxes some of which had been stored by a broken window for months so didn't even try to save them but the rest I made it my goal to put 50 books a week in the computer as that is the number of spine labels that can be printed on a page with our program. I would check them over keepers got a  barcode on them and entered in computer when I had 50 printed spine labels. Often took the books and spine labels home to do at night in front of TV. Some weeks didn't get 50 done but that was alright it was just a goal

    Also learned that any books I wanted to toss needed to come home and go in our recycle bin because if I put them in the trash at church they often came back to me with a note saying they were found in trash and

    they were sure it was a mistake

  • Hi! I am new to CLN, and am so excited to know there is such an active group to help people with their church libraries!  I have learned so much since joining earlier this week, and have gotten great ideas from the many articles and posts.

    My challenge is “where to begin?”  I started working in the library (~3000 books) in September, when it opened up again after being closed due to Covid.  I was asked to help get the library “up and running again.”  During a conversation with the associate pastor, I learned that he wants the library to become more than a library - a resource with all kinds of media that the congregation can use (a “Media Center").

    Initially I was working with the long-time librarian to help with this “re-opening,” but a few weeks into the project she needed to step down.  I miss having her as a partner because she knew *everything* about the library, but the silver lining is that it makes this a convenient time to start with a fresh vision for the future.

    I have completed the minimal requirement of “up and running”: the library now has established “open hours” and the books are available to be checked out.  Check.


    But where to go from here?

    • Do I spend my time removing old books from the  collection?  10% of our books are older than 1980, and the vast majority of those are children’s books.
    • Or do I focus on cleaning up the computer catalog?  We use LibraryThing and, and even though all of our books are barcoded, when you scan them to check them out, about half of the barcodes have not been entered into the system.  Boo.
    • Or do I focus on expanding the media resources for the congregation?  It looks like some church libraries use OverDrive, so I want to look into that.  But I also want to consider staff picks for podcasts, music, etc.
    • Or do I focus on promoting the library to get more people into the library space?  Until the old books and barcodes have been cleaned up, I don’t think the library will make a good impression on someone who comes into the library for the first time.  We currently have 2 families with young children who are “regulars,” and 2 high school girls who frequently come in for the fiction, as homework loads allow.  Very little traffic.

    There are so many directions to go.  I think I need to consider this a project, and look at it from a project manager’s perspective.  What is the reason for this project?  To get the resources that the church has into people’s lives so that God can work through them.  That may not be through a book.  I am going to look through CLN’s archives to see what others have done, and talk with the pastor again about his vision to make sure I am not off-track.

    I think we would benefit from surveys to the staff, teachers, and congregation to see what their needs and interests are, too.

    I know I will need help from others because I am only available a few hours each week.  I want to have a better plan before I ask people to help, though.

    That’s my challenge!  Thanks for reading, and for providing this great website!

    • Mimi, when I took over our library, about 90% of the collection didn't transfer into the new library system. It took almost two years of working part time to get everything into the system. I knew I couldn't keep the library closed in order to put that many books in, so I made cute little "under construction" signs.  I told people that if I scanned a book and it wasn't in the system, they just needed to wait an extra few minutes while I put it in. So a lot of the books got put in as they were being checked out.  I just changed systems again and I'm really really hoping everything transfers properly this time! I have a lot of books older than 1980, but many of those do get checked out.  I would leave that until later unless something is in really poor condition.

      • Thanks!  2 years sounds like a reasonable amount of time, based on my progress so far.  I have been chipping away at it for a few months now, but not with focused effort.

        After more thought, I am going to deprioritize culling the shelves, and focus on communication to get people into the library.  Then we can see what they are interested in, and go from there.

  • We are doing an open house in the library the end of January our flyer has a rubber duck says cupcakes and coffee with date, time and I ordered mini ducks on picks to put on the cupcakes Everyone who visits the library can guess how many rubber ducks we have and from the correct answers we will draw a name that day for gift card to bookstore.

    Right now we have table set up in Sanctuary for a devotional exchange which runs for 2 weeks starting 1st service after Christmas


    • I liked this so I bought 2 metal hearts with lids and posted picture and something similar on our face book page today  I did 2 hearts fill one with candy and one with sugar free candy as we have several people with sugar problems Am thinking I will put them in a different section each day.  Had to use metal so can close them up each night our library is in the basement of an old (100+) building in a semi-rural area so we have had mice/rats get in if anything food wise is left out10063953700?profile=RESIZE_930x

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