small town church library

 We wish to work at growing our church library, but since we are a small town how can we grow without competing with the towns public library. The town library has a fantastic selection of christian novels, and we often purchase discarded books from them.  Our church is only a few houses down the street from the public library.

We want to use our church library as an outreach to homeschoolers, and have a library time just for them. The town library also reaches out to young children and moms with story time.

 Is it a good idea to reach out to preschool and homeschooling moms, or is there another way to reach out to our small town community while respecting the town library.

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  • You have had lots of great input to your question.  There is a need for a church library even though the public library is across the street as in Sandra's case.  Remember that we are different because of the media we carry.  If we in our church libraries follow our mission statements, we can truly say "we are the only libraries where parents can take their children and say that anything they find is OK for them to read."  That isn't true for public libraries because of the policies they must follow.  I'm thankful that we are able to leave out media that we feel should not be in a Christian library.    I agree with Paul that the DVD section is a blessing to families and giving them the best in Christian movies.  Good luck in your efforts to become more effective.

  • What a helpful & encouraging discussion!

     In addition to comments made here, we're building up the children's section. There are a lot of children books/DVDs that our public library does not have, but that we're building upon. 

  • Everyone

    Thankyou all so much for your response. Everyone has given me much to think about.

    I have been the librarian at our small town church for the last 9 years, and we have grown over that time. The majority of books borrowed by members are Christian Fiction, even though we continue to build other areas. Grandparents borrow DVD's when grandchildren are visiting, however adults seldom borrow DVD's for their own enjoyment, and Christian Non Fiction hardly ever leave the shelves.

    While I believe that our church should use our library as an outreach into the community. I am also aware that we can do more to attract our own members to our library, and I need to address that as well.

    I am grateful for everyone's response, and for the encouragement that means so much coming from other church librarians.

    • We have really developed our adult/family movie/documentary collection and that DVD collection is one of our best used. There are a wealth of Christian movies and even secular movies that are good family oriented films. and are a couple of good places to go. We don't charge for movie check-outs as the public library here does and people really appreciate that.  The public library often does not carry many ofthe Christian movies so the church library is a good place to go.

  • I also agree that you can have a church library which respects and supports the town library. Another area for additional resources is in the non-fiction area. You can provide media that will support your denomination and the views of your congregation. Your pastor may suggest additional books or DVD's in this area. Be sure to review children's Bible story books as some do not always follow the scripture. As a church library we can be more selective of the items we choose to add to our collections. Along with the mission statement a strong selection policy will help the church understand the type of media the library wants to provide for your church.

  • I would agree that the public library and the church library can offer different options.  If you are starting out small and you find a need for offering children's books, I would start there.  See how the response is before you expand too much.  Adult fiction is always popular as well as a few reference commentaries.  If you are interested, I could send you some excellent children's books as a basis/core for your library.  Our children's section continues to be the hub of activities.  Christian reading needs to be shared throughout the community.  My e-mail is if you want more information. 

  •  Yes, you can definitely justify having the church library and still respect and support the town library!  Our church is directly across the street from the public library and I believe that people find areas in which they can appreciate both libraries and use both if they so desire.  I know that some of our home school families go to the public library to find books which our church library doesn't have -- maybe in the history, geography and maybe some science areas.  But they also come to the church library to find reading materials in the fiction area which they can be sure that will be consistent with Christian values. We supply some materials in those other areas, but don't have enough need for those subjects to be able to provide all they need.

    You may be able to provide just the items that those preschool or home school moms and children need.  Why not have a survey to determine some needs and times that they might be interested in?

    The church library has a distinctly different mission from the public library, and, in beginning and growing your library you will want to determine a mission statement which says  " Who does what, for whom and why."  Your mission as a church library is to support the mission of your church. 

    God bless you in your endeavor!

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