Flake’s first reason was the fact that special libraries were found in most institutions in his day because they cannot trust other sources for its library sevices. These institutions include universities, colleges, high schools, hospitals, prisons, businesses, and law offices all had libraries focused on their concerns and needs. He also mentions "rental" libraries that focused on commercial purposes. Church libraries are considered special libraries to this day. Leona Lavender Althoff wrote: "The church library has the special privilege of bringing books to serve people who ordinarily do not seek them in other libraries." (The Church Library Manual (1934), p. 13)
Althoff went on to write: "Every church is sorely missing a real opportunity for spiritual service until it establishes and utilizes a good library of its very own." (p. 14).
What about today?
Just shortly after transitioning my church's library to a broader ministry called the Enrichment Center, we discovered many people in our church used the public library. They verbally would tell our team that they did not need the church library. When we shared that we offered the same services that the public library did, they were surprised. They had no idea we had an online catalog and that they could email us what they wanted so that we could have it ready for them. And they were surprised we were open all the time with our self-checkout system. They are gradually starting to use our online catalog and include our library in their routines now.
What are your thoughts about today compared to what Flack and Althoff wrote about their day (1930s)? What about our "opportunities for spiritual service"? Are your public libraries offering spiritual reading services today?