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Church libraries are places of promise Print E-mail
By Ken Satterfield   
Tuesday, April 26, 2011

On Easter, my pastor asked, "What if life is like a big iceberg?" He encouraged the congregation to think of God's working beyond the small bit of reality — the tip of the iceberg — of members' experience.

Perhaps an argument could be made that beyond the message of grace and salvation, one place that could best represent what's beyond that tip for a church is a healthy library.

A church's collection brings together material from all areas: church history, theology, missions, biographies, values, ethics and even fellowship ideas. When a church utilizes a computer, the possibilities are even greater.

The library is a place of possibilities to open minds to reading, inspire with a video or move with music.

And the library is a service ministry, looking out for the needs of the congregation, staff and minister. That's not exactly washing feet, but the impact of individual attention can never be discounted.

In honor of April's National Library Week, here are some resources that can be useful in your church or personal library.

First, there are several sites with collections of helps and how-to's. Whether you are trying to start a church library or a personal one, you'll find resources and much more listed on the American Library Association's Fact Sheet 16 (tinyurl.com/ALAStartaLibrary).

Other compilations can be found through Abilene Christian University's procedures area (tinyurl.com/ACUlibraryhelps) and resources at Libraries in Churches (members.shaw.ca/scbrouwer).

Although not for every congregation, a church bookstore can expand ministry in creative ways. Not ready for that? Try something like a book table (tinyurl.com/BookTableIdeas).

OpenLibrary.org offers more than a million free eBook titles. With a free Open Library account, you can also borrow up to five books at once from a collection of more than 9,500 titles in several formats.

Sometimes it is nice to turn off and unplug. Discover new books by sharing the contents of your library at LibraryThing.com and comparing notes with 1.2 million other users.

It's important for librarians to network as well. Church librarians can share ideas and encouragement using the Ning social network (churchlibrarians.ning.com), supported by LifeWay Christian Resources. LifeWay also shares church library resources at lifeway.com/menu/200845 and through the archives link.

The National Church Library Association (churchlibraries.org) is another place to network. Along with their free e-newsletter, you can find a directory of Christian publishers with denominational affiliations and extensive web resources.

If you want to use the Internet for personal commentary and study helps, ChurchCrunch shares five suggestions at tinyurl.com/5commentaries. Other suggestions are found in the comments section. Another study site that should not be overlooked is BibleGateway.com.

To borrow a title not found in your local library, try WorldCat.org. The site helps you find the closest location that carries what you seek.

Or if you simply want to swap books and are looking for sites with larger inventories of religious titles, try BookMooch.com, PaperBackSwap.com and Swap Tree (swap.com).

The Library of Congress also has an incredible amount to offer at www.loc.gov.

It is important for children's future success that they become readers today. Little Ones Reading Resource (tinyurl.com/EncouragingReading) has ideas.

And people of any age who have a book but don't want to read it can see a video at tinyurl.com/ReadButDontWantTo. Those who don't like books can see what else can be done with them at pinterest.com/timtom/re-read.

Take a minute to thank those who serve in the library ministry. Volunteer. Or simply take the time to see what your library offers.

Ken Satterfield is advertising coordinator for Word&Way and formerly was the media specialist for the Missouri Baptist Convention.

 
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