Starting up Library

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Starting up Library

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1Morphidae
apr 7, 2008, 11:37am

I'm taking over the library (such as it is) and modernizing it, expanding it, etc.

Anyone have experience with church libraries? What do you like to see in church libraries? What do you not like to see? Any ideas about starting up or learning to work with the board, etc.?

2DianeS
apr 7, 2008, 3:58pm

Several years ago my church moved into a new, bigger building and a friend and I started, as volunteers, a library. At the moment real life has intervened and neither of us has a lot of time for it.

A few things I'd mention: get the biggest possible room you can and as many bookcases. Get at least three times more space than you think you can possibly fill. We filled up our area and bookcases in less than six months.

We asked for donations of gently used books. It's possible we should have been a bit less general. We have an *excellent* selection of history, biographies, and memoirs, in hardback. Getting other things took longer. If you do take used books, be more specific about what you want.

We decided early on that we didn't want just UU or religious books, though that is the area we try to buy in. We have a lot of homeschoolers in our congregation and figured we could probably handle just about anything. So we have bestsellers, mysteries, how-tos, history, all sorts of things. We've also concentrated on children's books, especially anything to do with children's spirituality. The UUA bookstore is an excellent resource for those books.

Our church governance is a bit unusual, so that we don't often have to deal with it. We're volunteers and we mostly run things our way. If anyone has a problem with that, I've not heard about it.

A couple of years ago we put together a wish list for religion, spirituality, and children's books from the UUA Bookstore and Beacon Press. Then we had a Baby Library Book Shower. People brought money for specific books or, often, the actual book, and we put "Given by" or "In memory of" stickers inside the front cover. We also had an amazing old Oxford Unabridged Dictionary (must have weighed 50 pounds!) that we really couldn't keep. (No room, no way to keep it secure, etc.) We sold raffle tickets for that and the woman who won it was very, very happy. The whole event, shower and raffle, was quite successful!

One thing we've done recently that I think has been really popular is to put books out for sale during coffee hour. Someone donated a real, old, library bookcart to us early on. We've been taking books that we don't plan to shelve and putting them on that bookcart with a donation can and letting people buy the books, as a fundraiser. Many of the books are not in the "gently used" condition, many of them we already have, some just don't seem to be what we want to put on our shelves. I don't have any idea how much money we've actually raised, but I do know that the cart usually has at least a couple of people looking it over every Sunday. We ask for $1 for hardbacks and 50 cents for paperbacks, and 25 cents for children's books (I think). We ask people not to put donations directly on the cart, so that we can look through them to see if there is anything we want to keep. Early on someone asked me if, after they'd bought a book and read it, they could put it back on the cart, and we agreed we thought that was a great idea!

I hope at least some of that is helpful. Free free to ask me any questions. Your library, being already started, is probably in much better shape than ours!

DianeS
owned by Wilma, Angel, and Simba
rented out by Fleur, Gizmo, Hedwig, Itsy, and Jaspurr

3Morphidae
apr 7, 2008, 4:35pm

The bookcart is a great idea. I was thinking that we would have a yearly booksale with the donated books we weren't keeping, but the bookcart seems like a neater idea.

4UUCLR
apr 9, 2008, 10:46am

I took over as librarian about 5.5 years ago. The children's books had been labeled w/ a dot w/ Author's last initial by the RE Chair & Homeschooler and amazing woman who worked with children. The rest of the collection was a mess.

I been working on the adult collection and only since switching to LT do I realize how that old software hindered me. Sure it searched LC, but it didn't find a lot of our collection. I put cards & pockets & stamped each book. I was a college librarian in my former life (before kiddo) so I know LC but joke "I don't do Dewey" I looked into using Dewey for our library but it Dewey is so heavily weighted to Judeo-Xtian that I knew it wouldn't work. I'd done a color scheme when I was church librarian in Plano, TX, but wanted this one more inspired than "spirituality books will be marked with orange since that's the biggest roll of tape"! I came up with a Chakra inspired classification! You can view it on our profile.

Our collection is primarily spirituality books and then other things that I feel support our congregation, like Sexuality for the OWL classes, grief, self-help, and bios of people that connect to spirituality (Dahli Lama, Albert Schweitzer, etc) We also only have fiction that could be "connected", like Mists of Avalon that changed my life, Hoot, etc. Anything that comes in that isn't a good fit (Patricia Cornwell, John Grisham...) goes out to the 1st Sunday book swap (free) that our church has. That is also where I'll go "trolling" for books! ;-)

Our library is under RE and last year was given a $200 budget. Prior to that there was no specific budget but I'd also taken on the Bookcart and got Board approval that any proceeds could go to the Library. Doing both Library and Bookcart have gotten to be too much so I've stepped down from Bookcart.

The Library location has been a huge issue. Initially it was in a room in the RE wing but no adults would venture over to it...and frankly didn't have reason to. The new DRE proposed a swap and the library moved over by the church office and Hall where everyone goes after service for coffee. It's a great location, although a bit small, but the problem is our church is severely space challenged and there have been various classes needing to meet in the library. As of this past Sun. we've worked out a space sharing that the class will meet in the library about 2x/mo. when they can't use the Sanctuary (when choir is rehearsing).

What are your library hours? We hope to have 9 - 12:30 on Sun. (services at 9 and 11, RE at 11 only) but the class meets from 10 - 11, with the door close and no room for anyone to come in to use the library while they meet.

We also have a Wishlist on Amazon, but I will say that so far no one has taken advantage of it. It is a good place for us to keep track of what we'd like to add to our collection.

Now with LT and the adult collection looking great, we're planning to hit the "advertising" I've invited a Parents Circle group to come on a "field trip" to the library as well as doing a Forum as soon as possible. I already write a monthly article for the newsletter...but I still hear "I didn't know we have a library"! :-(

I do believe LT will start to change all that...and I love some of the other ideas mentioned by DianeS! I would also love to continue to hear and share ideas, successes, plans and challenges.

Vicki

5sialia
mar 1, 2010, 10:51pm

Well, you are likely done looking for advice by now, but I just saw this thread. We have been working on our library for several years. The biggest thing we did was buy some software and catalog everything using the Dewey Decimal system. Then we had some large personal setbacks in our little group, so we are just starting to move again. We all went to a Faith Library Conference in Fort Collins, CO this past weekend. It was a real treasure trove of ideas. Keep your eyes peeled for one of those. I think we are probably most excited by the idea of getting up an online catalog the whole church can see and some churches had a website to go with that--a place where you can advertise book sales, post book reviews by people in the church and the like.

Another cool idea was an adopt-a-bookshelf program. People at church can sign up to sponsor a bookshelf by providing books on a topic of interest to them or books by a favorite author. The woman who mentioned that said they did it when they were transitioning from the dump for all donated books, to a more selective library. She said it built the collection and it started to change the way the church saw the library.

One other idea I really liked was giving book talks to your RE classes or having the classes visit the library during RE.