Revitalizing a Church Library

Revitalization is the current term for restarting a church library. Many of our churches are in the revitalization mode for all of the church ministries. Most of our new CLN members respond that they their church is revitalizing the library. Let's share our revitalization stories. What is happening with your church's library?

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  • My husband has been pastor of our church for 5 years now. There was no library, so 4 years ago I started one. So we aren't revitalizing, actually. Although right now the books are packed away because we are painting and re-flooring. The library has been closed for 2 years due ot the renovations, but books have still been ordered and accessioned. I'm using Dewey to catalog.

    So the painting in the library is done, and one more room to paint before the flooring can be laid down. I'm excited as I contemplate how to set the library back up. I will be dividing the books, though. The children's library will be in the Sunday School room (we are a very small church). That way when kids come to Sunday School if they want to read a book while waiting for class to begin they may. And it will leave more room on shelves as we continue to add books. 

    We aren't able to buy a bunch of books, but thanks to, I am able to buy several a month. The library was not used as much as I would like to see it used before the renovation began. But I am hoping that, once we set it back up, it will become a vital part of our members' lives.

  • I am finding all this intersting and encouraging and am also nodding along.  I am currently in the land of piles since I have taken on a long neglected church library.  I feel kind of like Mary in the Secret Garden.  My church was 50 in 2003 and is close to 70.  My family have been members for 40 years since I was 2 and I strongly felt SOMETHING had to be done so I have taken on the library.  It is 10 7 shelf bookshelves in a long room with a large table and 8 comfy meeting chairs.  Its mostly used as a small meeting room currently.  No one has done anything with it in at least 40 years.  most of the books are from the 50's to the 70's with some to either side of that.  We have some 2000's books from off and on book clubs in that time period mainly summer when no sunday school or pandemic when in person iffy someone decided to have book club and a copy of the book got stuck in the library wherever they could fit it.  anybody decided to add anything it got stuffed where it could fit.  I have found grief and loss books on 3 different bookshelves.  the only method I can think of to cope with the chaos is the land of piles.  there is the discard pile for anything that is falling apart, or out dated or doesn't fit current theology.  then there are piles for any subject just about you can think of.  I am just pulling everything off of every shelf in the library and skimming for content then tossing on appropriate pile.  in about 2 or so more book cases I will be sorting piles and putting them back on some shelf in some logical user friendly order.  Then I will be advertising at our church that we have a library that people can visit and borrow materials from.  I talked to 2 members who joined our church in the last 10 years who showed up at church during the week and wondered why I was at the church and I said I was working on the Library and they had no clue we even had a library.  My mom has a great idea we should have a library open house end of December begining of January when I am done and have snacks across the hall and have me give a presentation on the library and let people check out the library I might just do that that strikes me as a good idea but I am nearly at the half way mark.  In the meantime I am in the process of revitalizing and reopening a church library that has long been neglected but added to over time while not bieng used and thinking of ways to let people know that we have a library that can be used.

  • I volunteered to take care of our library.  We have a lot of books and the system has a complex catalog system.  Two cards in each book, colored dots, and then another section in a designated topic.  

    I want to simplify this sytem:  one card to record who has the book, and maybe a dot for topic, or maybe just put it on the shelf in the appropriate topic header.


    Any thoughts?  Another issue?  Hardly anyone uses the library!  I have advertised, put out a table, given away books.  Help.  I want to do this but I am discouraged.


    Peggy Occhiuzzo, florida

    • Peggy,

      Here is a link to the Texas State Library website where a method to weed libraries can be found. It is called the "CREW" method. As a church library, which doesn't get the circulation of public libraries, we only use it as a suggestion.

      I sympathize with your discouragment. If you need volunteers, you might reach out to local high schools to see if they have mandatory community service or to the boy Scouts to see if there is labor or an Eagle Scout project that could be done to help your library.




    • Hi there! Peggy, I'm curious as to any update you may have. Here's my experience.

      PURPOSE ◇ Visualizing the end result for each section & the library as a whole helps me tremendously because it seems like a daunting task. As you (in the generic sense) complete each section, you can see the progress made. I can say now, the whole library has been gone through, but tweaking areas is very much part of what I now do. 

      WEED◇As painful as it semed when needing to build up the library, I weeded out so many books. First, I started with weeding out worn-out & tattered books. Then next I considered content for weeding out books, especially in the children's section, that does not fit the focus of our library as a whole.

      FORUM ◇ I read almost all the content on this forum at the time I began service in our library, because "I don't know what I don't know". All the while I kept in mind the uniqueness of our church library & what it has to offer those attending & the community.

      NEW ◇ Adding in new books/media by donations & with a desinated budget is fun. I'm thankful for any budget, no matter the slim size.

      I really like the Dewey Decimal System, but my suggestion is to make it work as a helpful tool. Books organize by Dewey Decimal sections, and yet someone walking into the library will see areas marked in subject areas such as Bible, Life Stations, Christian Life, and Church & Worldviews and need not focus on DDS numbers alone.

      May God bless you! Hopefully, this is an encouragement. Nodding my head in an agrrement with others on this thread, I hope you found encouragement.

      • Linda,

        Your comment about how to mark subject areas while organizing by Dewey caught my attention. I'm just starting the process to get our books properly labeled using Dewey, but do want to plan some way for marking the shelves to help people find things visually too.  Do you have any photos of how you've done this that you would be willing to share?

    • Some suggestions - make the library look different and new! Do some weeding if you have old books, maybe move sections to be more accessible, some colorful signage for topics, maybe some decorations (we have old books and plastic greenery on top of the shelves), floor pillows for kids if you have room. Yes, streamline the cards and dots and topics so that they work for you. Ask for some money to get current books, and then keep statistics to show how circulation grows. If it is seen as an effective ministry, you will get more in your budget. And pray that God would bless these books to grow lives, people would come and spread the word about the 'new' library.

      Peggy, I wish you the best as you serve Jesus in the library.  Take your time and ask God for wisdom in each step.


  • Last year was an exciting one for us.  We finally finished recreating in our date base more than 1100 items (added during a 30-month period) that were lost when a virus struck the church server.  The church library finally made it onto the church website and they started mentioning our monthly book sales on the church's Facebook page.  Because we're not inclued in the church budget, the sales are a principal source of income for us.  They also added a library flyer to the bags for visitors.  

    I've wanted to do something to update our signage for some time and finally began working with a very talented staff member after the first of the year.  Hopefully the new signs (a large A-frame one, a magnetic one for the door, and a small one beside the door with our days and hours of operation) will be up soon.  At the same time we changed our name to Media & Resource Center to more accurately reflect our ministry and holdings.  Our next project is some serious culling, particularly in our adult fiction and nonfiction.  I find that aspect of library work particularly challenging and I'm always praying for wisdom when I tackle it.  That will be an ongoing project throughout the year.  Another project?  Recruit library volunteers!  Over the last few years we've lost several due to moves, death, attendance at other churches, etc.  These days it frequently feels like a one-woman operation, but the Lord continues to bless us mightily.

  • Yes, this is the year for our church library to revitalize. First of all, the board increased the library budget for the year.  Secondly, my goal this year is to get a presence on our church's media - Facebook, app, etc. I am not very techie in those areas, so will need some help. Last Sunday we had more people come in the library and take out books - a real encouargement. Since I am not working full time now, I have had time to weed books, do an inventory, sort out people who no longer take books out, and delete books that have been lost for quite some time and will not be returned.

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