December 12, 2008

The Church Library as a Ministry: How to Reach Out and Connect!

Transforming your church library from "more than a room" to an actual ministry challenges those of us dedicated to church library ministry to think more broadly about the role we fill.

Church libraries are full of a variety of resources that can encourage and enrich the members of the congregations we serve. How do church librarians ensure that their church library is an active ministry? Ministry requires going beyond our usual boundaries and requires that we stretch ourselves to meet the needs of those we serve. Creativity and activity are key when it comes to successful outreach.

How do church librarians provide outreach and who are they reaching out to? Church librarians need to know both the ministry areas of the congregation they serve as well as the make up of the congregation. The church library is serving all members, committees, church staff, people using the building and the surrounding community. Serving such a diverse group can be challenging and rewarding.

One groups church libraries can support are church committees.

  • Church librarians are resource people. What are the committees in your church working on? Is there a capital campaign coming up? Is there a social justice committee focusing on a particular region of the world?
  • Actively seek out committee members to see what resources the church library can offer. Perhaps members of these various committees could also participate on the church library committee.
  • Getting people to see the church library as having relevance to their ministry area helps people to see the value in what is often a much underrated resource-the church library.
  • The church librarian as ministry coordinator is a big role to fill. In order for your library to be transformed from being, "a room with books" to an active ministry, a library team is needed to succeed.
  • When your team is in place, start by talking to the ministry and committee leaders already in place. Find out how you can support their efforts and gradually add to your programming.
  • As you expand your focus, members of your congregation are sure to notice that something is new and different in their church library.

How have you reached out to other church committees?