Lynn Floyd Wright has a question for us to discuss:

How do you justify to your bosses that your church library is necessary?  We've got a new pastor (not even 40 yet!) and he wants to put resources into church's digital presence.

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  • I don't know how to convince someone, but people need to understand that even with all that is available to us in digitical form, there are many people (even young, technology-oriented ones) who prefer holding an actual book.  Certainly for children, physical books are a must, and if you can get people into the library for their little ones, often they will look for books for themselves as well.  
    Our church library is fairly unique (around here anyway) in terms of its size and organization, and it gets lots and lots of traffic.  People rave about it.  There are some who have chosen to attend our church because of it.  I think it is short-sighted to not give a library a chance to succeed.  Do you already have a library, or are you wanting to start one?

    • We actually have a beautiful library, and in a very visible open space.   It is patterned after the lion the witch and the wardrobe and has beautiful murals on the wall (whose reproductions were approved by the CS Lewis society in London) and even a cordoned off area that looks like a Wardrobe.

      It's called, appropriately, the Lamppost!

      we have been most successful in years past… Still have 70 to 75 kids in my summer reading club program every year… But people are flat out not reading like they used to. Especially adult non-fiction.

      it gripes me when I have to justify my existence with numbers.

      • Good grief, that sounds amazing!  

        Adult nonfiction is the least-used area in our library as well (and has been for the ten years I've been working in the library) and I don't think it's wise to use that as a measuring point for library use.  It's a limited number of people who are interested in reading books to aid in their spiritual growth.  The thing is, as people move in and out of the church, that can easily change, too. 

          Does the adult fiction area get used?  

        I totally understand your frustration! But if numbers will speak to your staff, could you keep some records as "evidence"?  I did this for a while, not because we needed to justify our existence, but out of personal interest and also so that if anyone asked, I could show them what I'd been recording.  They never did, so after a couple of years I stopped being quite so regular about it. But I tracked things like: number of books in library, how many total patrons, how many active patrons, how many items out, how many overdue (that was mostly for myself!).  I tried to check all these numbers on the same day every week.  It was very obvious when we were doing a summer reading program - huge spike!

        And heavens if you have that many kids in summer reading...that alone seems like affirmation that your library is doing worthwhile things. How big is the congregation?

        • Debbie:


          I agree with you about the Summer Reading Club numbers and I AM running numbers on books checked out/patrons added, etc.  So far the bosses are satisfied but it'll kind of be a yearly/biyearly thing, I think.  We shall see.

          I will try to post some pictures of our Childrens' Wardrobe.

          In the meantime, fellow librarians, can you pass along any programs/promotions you have instituted in your libraries?

          I am most grateful!

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