Hello.  I'm a member of St. John's Episcoapal Church, Charleston, WV; we have a 'library' consisting of some rather dusty, musty books which hardly anyone ever reads.  Our new pastor wants to change this.    Because I have an MLS, I've been asked to be point man on the project, but I've never actually designed a library from the ground up.  HELP!

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  • Weclome abaord.  You have a great resource here.  First of all you are never truly done overhauling a church library so there is that it really is kind of an on going procress.   We just moved our library to the main level of the church as it was a very under untilized ministry.  While we were in the process of the remodel and relocation we were able to go through the collection and purgeed books that were twenty years old or older.  We purchased the Concourse software and are slowly working with getting the collection in their system.  I write all the news letter articles, superivse the volunteers, purchase new books when possible, organize events, manage the Free Little Library for the neighborhood, handle check outs, overdue among a few other things but i work part time in the library and full time in my own in home child care business.  If other churches in your community have libraries it is worth the time to take the fieldtrip and network with them and see their space.  You will learn a lot and find some great support. 

  • Check out the software LibraryThing for small libraries.
  • Bruce, how exciting it is to have you join CLN and to see how you are already participating in the Q&A section.  Isn't it amazing to see how many librarians have the same challenges.l  At any rate, we're happy that you are now a very active member of this group.  You will find many helpful articles on the main page of CLN.  Thanks for joining and sharing your experiences.

  • I'd love to go around to other libraries, but that is kind of hard when you work full time.  Let's hope that some of my volunteers are retired.

  • I'd love to go around to other libraries, but that is kind of hard when you work full time.  Let's hope that some of my volunteers are retired.

  • Gail, that color-coding system sounds interesting.  Doing full Dewey classification seems like a pain in the a@@, but we have to have some sort of system.

  • Our "Library" was exactly like yours before I revitalized it in 2013. It is a lot of work but one of the most rewarding things I've ever done! I could go on and on but I have two main pieces of advice:
    1. Visit every church library in your community. You can learn a lot from the people near you who also love church libraries. They will be able to show you what works and what doesn't work. Most importantly, you will develop a network in your town. Many church libraries were extremely generous and shared some of their books and resources to help get us started.
    2. Write a mission statement and stick to it. I initially thought this was silly. However, I have found it to be one of the most beneficial aspects of our library. It will be especially helpful as you weed out all of those yucky old books that you currently have on hand. Our mission statement is "We provide high-quality materials that bring people of all ages closer to God. ". That means that I can eliminate or choose not to add anything that is low-quality and also items that are not religious in nature.

    Good luck!
  • I also have an MLS and started our church library back in 2002 by myself.   We had nothing before that as we were a brand new Catholic parish and were meeting in a school.  Knowing we were planning to build soon, I wanted to make sure there would be room in the new building for a library, so got permission to start one before we had our space built.   To start our collection, I began by asking parishioners for donations of appropriate books.   I took most anything that was donated at the beginning.   Understanding how time consuming cataloging could be, I chose to use a color-coded classification system that I devised (using color dots purchased from Demco) as well as pockets and cards.   My husband and I transported the "library"  to and from the school twice a month in 17 stacking crates that were stored at my house between times.   Once the library had a permanent home, I put together a committee to really look at the books we had accumulated.   Some were removed as not appropriate for a Catholic library.  That process taught me a tremendous amount about what to look for when we received more donations, and once I actually started purchasing resources for the library.   I still use my color-coding system, as well as pockets and cards since we have no computer to use for the library.   I have our entire collection on an Excel spreadsheet I keep on a flash drive, but haven't made it available to our parishioners as of yet. One thing that has really helped me is to be a part of a local nondenominational Church Library Association.   It's a great place to get ideas, and help with problems.  Check with other church librarians to see if such an organization exists in Charleston.   Even better would be if you can encourage other Episcopal Church librarians to get together and form a support group!   If my color-coding system is of any interest to you (or anyone else), I'd be glad to pass along more information about my categories.

  • I started reorganizing our church library in 2013. You can see a general description here. A more detailed discussion of the "reboot" and the materials we consulted is available here.

    LibraryThing Member GracePointeChurch
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