November 17, 2009

How to get Free Books you Want

Do you have duplicates and unwanted books taking up precious space in your library? Do you receive donations you can’t use? Trade those undesirables for books you want using an online book-swap program. Internet book-swapping sites are becoming more and more popular thanks to a growing number of environment conscious readers and readers with shrinking personal budgets.

How does it work? A member account is first set up by each user. Members use the website to list the books they no longer want and request books they do want. Members receive notice when one of their unwanted books has been requested and mail the book to the requester.

Books you request are sent to you for free. Senders pay the postage, which for an average book is just over $2 (Media Mail postal rate). There is no charge to set up a member account.

Usually a point system is maintained to track the number of books a member is eligible to request. Book lists can be browsed by subject, or members can use the site’s search feature to look for a book by title, author or ISBN. Users can also create a wish list and get email notifications when a desired title is newly listed by another member. On some sites, users can even request that wish list books be automatically sent when available.

John Clark, a successful book-swapping librarian in Hartland, Maine, was recently in featured in the Bangor Daily (Maine) News . . . Read John’s story >>>

Book Mooch, Paper Back Swap, and Swap Tree are three popular swap sites with larger inventories of religious titles that church librarians may find appealing.

Check out book-swapping sites today and start turning your undesirable books into desirables!

Review these titles: Booklist Online's Top Religion Picks

The November ALA Booklist Online Spotlight on Religion and Spirituality issue announces their Top Ten lists of books and videos. Click on the links below to view the lists.

We invite you to review these titles! Would these titles make good additions to a church library collection? Annotated bibliographies give more information about the titles on each list. Make comments here on the Branches blog to share your recommendations and reservations with your peers.

Top 10 Books in Religion and Spirituality
Top 10 Religion Books for Youth
Top 10 Religion Videos

Type your comments in the text box below to review a title on any of these lists.

Stretch your Library Budget at Half Price Books

Submitted by Kathleen Bowman, Librarian, Faith Lutheran Church, Appleton WI

Do you have a Half Price Books store in your area? Half Price Books is a large new and used retail bookstore chain with more than 100 stores in 15 states. Stores buy from the public, which makes the merchandise in each store unique.

When you bring in your unwanted books to Half Price Books, you receive a cash payment which you can spend on the spot.

Half Price Books is a great place to find books to add to your library. Books are shelved according to categories so it is easy to see if they have what you need.

As a church library worker, you are eligible for a 10% discount. Ask about signing up for the Educator Discount Card when you go to the store. To sign up, you will need to show an ID card or provide other verification such as a letter from your church.

Another great service for church libraries is their Library Donation Activities Program. Stores often receive more books than they want to stock and give these away to eligible organizations. Bring in a letter of introduction on church letterhead stating your name and position with your church library, tax exempt ID number, your interest in book donations, the subject area(s) you are interested in and how to contact you. Your information will be kept on file and you will be notified when they have a box of books for you.

Whether or not there is a store in your area, it is worth checking out Half Price Books stores when you are traveling. Because of the uniqueness of each store’s selection, customers traveling the country will find something different at every location.

Find more information about Half Price Books on their website

Spotlight on Wisconsin

NCLA Wisconsin Chapters Share News from Fall Meetings

NCLA’s West Central Wisconsin Chapter met on September 19, 2009, at Trinity United Methodist in Chippewa Falls, WI.

Pastor D. J. Rasner, English Lutheran Church, Bateman, WI, opened with a devotion on book selection. He shared his thoughts on how he does not envy church librarians trying to choose the “gems” for the collection from all the titles available.

The main speaker of the morning was Nancy Clark Scobie, an author who, with approximately 80-100 Chippewa Falls, WI area grandmothers, compiles collections of memories in a series of books called “Poetica Grandma-tica.” They recently completed their 5th annual edition. Nancy believes “All of us have books within ourselves.”

We also had a roundtable discussion about how our own congregations, through their church libraries, can encourage others to share their stories. As an example, one congregation has its members write memories on a particular theme. These memories are then compiled and handed out as Advent Readings each year. Nancy suggested that this could be done as a fundraiser. Booklets could be bound together at the top or side simply with yarn.

The Business meeting followed, and members were encouraged to volunteer for officer positions at the upcoming Spring meeting.

At the end of the meeting, some new, donated books were given to church libraries with smaller collections who graciously accepted these books. (This is definitely a common tie between all the NCLA chapters, that there are church libraries of all sizes. Do we, in our own Chapters, know the sizes of each other’s church libraries?)

Meeting some of the members of the West Central Wisconsin Chapter was a very special time of faith and fellowship for me. I look forward to gathering with them again!

Kathleen Bowman
NCLA Board Member

Fox Valley Chapter Fall 2009 Meeting

The Fox Valley Chapter (Wisconsin) met on Saturday, October 3, 2009, at Ascension Lutheran Church, Green Bay, WI. The meeting focused on books that deal with children in the center of personal and family issues such as divorce, bullying, blended families and other serious topics.

The guest speaker for the meeting was Amy Vanden Plas, owner of Butterfly Books, a secular bookstore in De Pere, WI. Amy handed out an excellent bibliography of titles that could be used in church libraries, and shared the contents of a number of the titles. The attendees appreciated the list, as they never could have kept up with all the wonderful suggestions Amy presented!

After a break, the business meeting was conducted, and an election of officers took place. The members then gathered in a circle to share items they had brought from their own church libraries applicable to the day’s topic. NCLA’s Resources for Church Librarians booklists were a valuable source librarians used when choosing titles in this category for their libraries. It was interesting to see the diversity of titles on the topic and to discover that the amount of information in our libraries did not necessarily correlate with the size of the library. Adult titles, such as parenting guides, were also shared. A side light of this was seeing how other church libraries catalog and classify the materials.

The meeting ended with a wonderful lunch, and social time.

Kathleen Bowman
NCLA Board of Directors

September 22, 2009

Lessons Learned in the OSLC Library Remodel Project

• Talk to EVERYONE! We placed clipboards in all of the rooms we were considering making changes to and asked people to write down how they used the room or if they knew how another group used the room. We also held a congregational meeting and several meetings with the Church Council seeking input.
• Research EVERYTHING! The internet and the public library are great tools. American with Disabilities Act accessibility requirements, Library Space Planning Guide by the Connecticut State Library, Libraries in Churches List, National Church Library Association, Webjunction (library furnishing recommendations), Google images (search church library for examples) and the professional development collections at public libraries. Some of these are tools for larger public libraries but they can still be applied to small libraries.
• Be considerate of those who designed the original rooms. There are many reasons why they did things the way they did and that information will help you plan any changes you make. Remember they worked just as hard on that design as you are on the new design.
• Understand early that you will not be able to please everyone but be considerate of their concerns.
• Pick a well-rounded team with a variety of skills and abilities. Carpenters and metal shop workers are important to include. The custodians will also be very helpful but remember they have their own normal work to do so don’t expect them to be able to clean up after every step of the project.
• Compare prices and products with library specific catalogs, office supply companies, and then check local sources.
• Be prepared for budget overruns!
• Ask for volunteers early and often.
• Have Fun!

Grand Opening / Rally Sunday

Northern Minnesota is known for short summers when residents spend weekends on vacation and out at the cabin on the lake. So Rally Sunday, the first day of Sunday School is known as the day most members return to church after a long summer vacation. Our goal was to have everything ready by that day and we came very close. We have a few pieces of furniture we would like to add and would like a thick fun rug for the children’s area so they can sit comfortably on the floor.

The reaction of the congregation to the changes has been very positive and the space is a hub of activity on Sunday mornings that would never have been possible with the previous layout. Parents now have somewhere to sit and relax and visit with other parents while their children are in Sunday School classes. Teachers visit, plan their schedules and share last minute preparation tips for upcoming lesson plans. Older students not in Sunday School meet there to see if they can help anywhere or sit and visit as well. We even have one high school teacher who uses the conference table to grade student papers while he waits for his son. We have also subscribed to a local Sunday paper and judging by how it is spread across three different tables by the end of the Sunday School hour, I would say it is well read!

The lounge has also been well received. It is still large enough for the choir to use for practice and has a meeting room style table to be used as a buffet for small groups and is comfortable and private enough for brides getting ready before their ceremony. The only disadvantage to its location is the steps that limit handicapped accessibility.

Final Two Weeks of the OSLC Library Remodel Project

New carpeting is installed in the library and now it is time to dismantle the shelves in the storage area, carry them to the new library and reassemble them in their permanent locations. Since we had just assembled the shelves a few short months ago you would think this would be an easy task, but it was still a challenge!

I had three middle school age volunteers that were a huge help to me this week. I placed labels on the shelves to indicate where each category (we use a modified John system with 15 categories) should start and they moved 1500 books into their final locations in our new space. While checking their work and finalizing shelving placement I was amazed to discover they had less than a dozen books out of order. They also helped me prepare new materials for our new book display. Ryan, Kyle, and Sarah H. are the best kids around!

Final week
An incredibly busy week! We had a team of eight assemble chairs and desks and it became a competition to see which group could assemble a chair the fastest! Desks and boxes of supplies were moved back into the work area and the computer was installed. My husband was very busy finishing special shelving design projects while I finished all the details that make everything actually work in the library.

Week Ten of the OSLC Library Redesign

The old carpet is reinstalled in the new lounge this week and old stains we did not notice were very noticeable in the smaller room! Fortunately, we had a volunteer who was good with a steam carpet cleaner and the carpet looks brand new! Carpet for the library is on order and will be in the end of next week.

This week we installed our old shelves that will be against the walls and (hopefully) never moved. One evening I screwed the framework for the shelves together and hauled all the shelves up into the new library. The next day my husband secured the shelves to the walls and a night of book moving was planned. This was a team process with one person filling a box from the shelves on our storage area, another carrying it down the hall up eight steps (trust me I know there are 8 steps!) where a third volunteer loaded them into the shelves for another temporary stay until the rest of the shelves were installed.

This same evening there were volunteers moving furniture and decorating the new lounge. They also did a great job arranging the original couches, chairs and tables into a very cozy area for small group meetings and counseling sessions.

We ordered nine new meeting room style chairs, five comfortable chairs, a computer desk, and a storage cabinet that will arrive in two weeks. The team decided we could assemble the furniture ourselves to save some money and we scheduled an evening for that task.

Weeks 3 - 9 of the OSLC Library Redesign Project

Weeks 3 -7

Contractors worked on finishing walls, electrical wiring, new ceiling lighting and a new ceiling throughout the space and a new closet was built for the new lounge.

Week Eight

With the contractors done, it was back to the design team to select paint colors and carpeting. Our interior designers selected a soft yet bright yellow for the library walls and we chose multicolor institutional grade carpeting. Being good stewards of the Earth, we also chose carpet made from recycled materials. Our first choice for carpeting was backordered and would not be available until mid September. That was a major problem considering our grand opening was scheduled for September 13th! We ended up going with a shade darker than the original choice but it looked fine.

The next step was painting, priming to be exact. It took about a week to paint due to taking time to tape off the areas not painted and the variety of wall textures we had – painted cement block, never painted cement block, brand new sheet rock, metal radiator covers, and old plaster walls. In addition, if you didn’t see the pictures, the walls were a dark blue and dark pink! So, between the textures and the dark colors it took two plus coats of primer to get a nice surface for our new yellow paint!

Week Nine

Still painting! My husband I finished the yellow paint in the library. Having a husband that is 6’3” tall helps when painting! He did the high areas and I followed behind doing the lower areas. We had two more volunteers help paint the lounge and even with its two-color scheme, we were able to get two coats on that room in just two evenings.

September 16, 2009

Can Church Libraries Survive in a Digital World?

Stories about e-books and digital information dominate the news today. Every day we hear news of the latest products being developed and about titles newly digitized, along with tales of publisher woes and disputes about copyright issues.

The publishing industry gathered at the London Book Fair last spring to discuss the future of the book business. The Daily Telegraph (UK) article, E-books: Is the writing on the wall for books? describes this scene: “Among the vast stands carrying the latest paperbacks was a digital zone where academics and executives explored ways in which the book industry could embrace the electronic age.” They report “The Association of American Publishers has singled out e-book sales as the fastest growing segment in the industry, with sales of traditional books declining across all major markets . . .” Read Daily Telegraph article>>>

Libraries too, are watching and evolving with the trends. A recent CNN article, The Future of Libraries, With or Without Books begins “The stereotypical library is dying — and it's taking its shushing ladies, dank smell and endless shelves of books with it.” While this picture sounds grim, the article goes on to note new trends in the library world and spotlights several public libraries that are piloting innovative ways to gain an edge. Read CNN article>>>

Church libraries too, need to reevaluate their role in this changing information environment. In the Libraries Alive article Capturing the Church Library Market, Dolores Walker asks readers, “Is your library an echo of the past? Or an entry gate to the future?” and shares a helpful research survey with us. Read Libraries Alive article>>>

Taking Dolores’ line of questioning one step further, we church librarians can do some self-examination of our future library ministry goals. Ask yourself, “Where does my church library want to be in regards to its community and our changing technology? And perhaps more importantly, “How is it going to get there?”

Church libraries recognize the value of digital information. Many have made online catalogs and broader Internet access available onsite. That’s just a start. The next time you sit down to strategize about your library goals, begin exploring how and when e-books, digital databases, electronic forums and social networks might be integrated into your resource offerings.

Can your church library survive a future when the physical book may become less important? The answer is “Yes!” if you keep your ears, eyes and minds open to new possibilities for library ministry.

New! Automation User Groups Forming

While software companies provide support for their products, it is invaluable to be able to talk with others and share the little nuances of a program you are using. “We found this worked,” “have you tried this?” or “I didn’t know you could do that!” are conversations you can now have with fellow software users. Louise B., librarian at St. Aidan’s United in Victoria, BC Canada, is setting up email user groups for individual programs in use by church librarians.

The idea originated with Louise and our friends at the Congregational Libraries Association of British Columbia (CLABC). Louise is a member of both NCLA and CLABC and she is graciously extending an invitation to NCLA members to participate.

If your library is automated (or considering it), email your name, church, contact email and name of the program you are using (or interested in) to Louise. Louise will put you in touch with everyone using your software. Click here to email Louise>>>

Thanks Louise and CLABC for the partnership!

Washington DC Chapter Reviews Cataloging Programs

Submitted by Mary Bowen

Our February 28 meeting was very productive! First, thanks to Kathy S., Roberta L., Mary Beth K., and Evelyn H. for hosting the meeting and providing the program. The breakfast was delicious, and we enjoyed hearing about the library at Church of the Good Shepherd, Episcopal. Our program focused on library cataloging programs and members shared their experiences with programs they are using.

Mary Beth K. provided information about Readerware. Records can be entered by scanning the ISBN code found on the back of most books. Technical support is provided by the developer, who is very responsive. The standard book version costs $40. The three product (books, videos, music) bundle comes with a free bar code reader and costs $85. The three product bundle is not essential since videos and music can easily be entered into the book version.

Mary B.’s library uses Cross Library 1.7 and is fairly happy with it except that it does not have good keyword searching and it has fields for only two subject headings. This can be problematic when so many books have more than two subjects. The cost is $150.

In another library where Mary volunteers she uses ResourceMate and has been happy using it. It is easy to download records from the Library of Congress as well as enter records manually. It has a separate module for users to search so they will not have access to the librarian's version and cannot change records. The basic version is $195. The Plus version is $395.

Avery B.’s church library uses Surpass. She said that the product works very well although they did have some initial difficulties with installation. The basic church library program (Surpass CL) sells for $495, allows for self-checkout and offers quick cataloging via the Internet.

Melissa H. uses LibraryThing. Melissa has no computer in her church's library and no money for a computer or software. She has a card catalog in her library and has entered all of her library holdings into the free website, LibraryThing. This way her library users can look at her library holdings on the Internet.

In two of our group’s libraries, the current catalog was developed by a member of the church who is no longer available for help with the program. Both of these libraries are looking for a new program.

The topic chosen for our spring meeting is collection building. We plan to cover mission statements, policies on purchases and donations, weeding, sources of materials, fund raising, and budgets.

Whew! Sounds like enough for several meetings!

Librarians Helping Librarians

"I'm looking into replacing some of our videos with DVDs. I'm wondering to what extent that I should go. A vast majority of my collection is from the 90's when videos were hot. Like McGee & Me, Beginner's Bible, Donut Man, Odyssey, etc.

"I'm just wondering to what extent that I should spend the $$$? I've replaced the VeggieTales, Visual Bible Gospel series, Miracle Maker, Prince of Egypt. I am mentoring with a library that is selling off their videos for 25 cents each and not purchasing any DVDs.

"What are your thoughts on plunging into DVDs in this era of quickly changing technology?" -Bev E.

July 7, 2009

Librarians helping librarians . . .

Two new librarians had questions at a recent church library gathering in Milwaukee WI. Can you help?

“Now that we can see the finish line in completing inventory of our collection, our thoughts are turning [to] volunteers, which leads, in our minds, to job descriptions. Do any of you have descriptions you'd care to share with us? 

Also, do your churches do a background check on library staff?”

Share your ideas.

News from Chicagoland

NCLA’s Illinois Chicagoland Chapter shares news of their fall and spring meetings in Library Leaves, the chapter’s newsletter.

Children’s programs were highlighted at the fall workshop. Participants talked about children’s library programs happening at their churches.

Mother-daughter duo, Chris and Hannah A. from Peace Lutheran in Lombard, IL, talked to the group about their success with a summer book club they started for Hannah and her friends. The girls met initially to decide on the books they would read. Each family then hosted a discussion. Food, crafts and activities related to the books enriched each discussion time.

Helen H., Good Shepherd Lutheran, Naperville, IL, described her library’s NASCAR-themed program, “Driven to Read.” The group goal to read 100 books was met and matched by Thrivent Financial who sent 100 books to a church library devastated by Hurricane Katrina. This gave the children an opportunity to work toward a charitable goal.

Betsy P., St. John’s Lutheran, Union, IL, told of her library’s collaboration with Sunday School to develop a rotating model which incorporates library time. Children follow a Bible story for a month. They are divided into three groups, each spending a week in crafts, games, or library story time. Different methods of engaging the children in story are used. Youngest children are read to; puppets are used to tell the story to first and second graders; and older children learn by acting out the story using scripts.

Diane A., First Presbyterian, LaGrange, IL, told about her library reading program “WINGS” (Walking in God’s Service). Readers received coupons, ice cream, and treats when they achieved their goals. Yum!

Focus on Fiction was the theme for the chapter’s spring workshop. Author Lynn Austin spoke about Christian fiction, autographed copies of her books and chatted with participants. Host church Gloria Dei Lutheran, Downers Grove, IL, just completed new construction and the group enjoyed visiting the new library space.

“Why is the church library so important to the life of the church?” asks Chapter President Natalie Johnson in the chapter newsletter. “It contributes to the building up of the Body of Christ. On the shelves of the church library are a diverse group of books which offer resources for church leaders, devotional literature to help the congregation grow spiritually, and books of encouragement for those who are ill, or grieving, or poor in spirit.

“There are books that make us laugh and books that make us cry. You will find fiction, humor, music, biographies, poetry and so much more. And it is not just books in today’s church library—there are CDs and DVDs and maybe even computer software for Bible study.

“Books can change lives and if one book you share with someone changes a life, then you have made a difference. Being a church librarian is a great gift to the congregation in sharing the Good News!”

We agree!

Begin With YOU: Starting a Church Library

By Dolores Walker

So your church doesn’t have a library, but you think it’s a good idea to have one. Where do you begin? Who should you talk to? What do you need?

Begin with YOU
Don’t wait for someone else to light the fire under the bacon. You’re the one with the desire, the enthusiasm. Why not you?

Who should you talk to? Lots of people. Your pastor, for one, but don’t start with him/her/them. Wait until you have a good case, then you’ll be ready to sell the idea if necessary. Float the idea with other avid readers. Brainstorm the kind of materials you think a library should provide, the kind of books people in your congregation would likely read—and need. Speculate about a suitable place and how it would be run.

Don’t go it alone!
Let’s say you find you aren’t the only one who thinks a library is a good idea. Church libraries require time and work. See if you can enlist people who will commit to help set it up and keep it going if you get an okay from headquarters. Many a project has permanently stalled at one stage or another because the idea lacked backers. If you don’t find sufficient support, drop the idea at least for a while. Pray about it. Consider alternatives. Would a book club, say, serve the purpose you have in mind?

The purpose-driven library
Why should a church have a library anyway? Especially in this world of public libraries, and books for sale in grocery stores and airport shops, not to mention wonderful book discount sites. Wouldn’t it be much cheaper and simpler to search the Internet for religious information than pour money into a series of Bible commentaries?

Why should your church, specifically, have a library? Are there wants and needs that cannot be filled by the aforementioned avenues? Seriously explore these questions with others. How about joining forces with other churches to form a Christian media resource center in your community?

Warning: If you start from the proposition “a church library should have,” you may gather a fine collection of books that no one will check out—if they even bother to see what you offer. Success is far more likely if you customize your collection to the reading habits and needs of your congregation. For example, you may have readers who like Christian novels. Even if they belong to a Christian novel book club, the church library could be a repository of novels they are willing to share with others. Spiritual Growth is another category of books that are less available outside churches.

Preach to the choir
Don’t worry about non-readers. Make an effort to learn which people in your congregation read and focus on them. They’ll supply the most powerful publicity, to wit: “That’s a terrific book! I donated my copy to the library, and you can get it there.” When you add books, do it with those readers in mind, and be sure you let them know it.

Keep it simple!
Has the Dewey Decimal system gone the way of the dinosaurs? Surprise! It hasn’t. Most people are familiar with this system from school days. And if you “computerize” your collection, the software is most likely to use Dewey.

You may be tempting to set up a less formal organizational system. But churches that have tried other ways of organizing their books have usually found it wasn’t as simple and effective as they expected. An acceptable compromise might be to stop at one number past the decimal rather than be more specific, and post subject categories on the shelves for quick directions.

Make an easily accessed, easily used library your goal. The traditional tried and true Dewey Decimal System serves that purpose.

Zero financing?
Do you really need a library budget? If your church values its library, it will provide funds to buy cataloging supplies as well as an influx of new books.

Beyond such basic funding, your library can benefit greatly from a wise approach to donations. With so many people buying books—and often discarding them after reading—a judicious openness to donations can swell your collection of newer books. A clear library policy that specifies what you will accept is essential, but make it equally clear that you do welcome donations—and be on the lookout for and even solicit them. Otherwise, good books that you’d love to have in your library may wind up being donated to the church rummage sale instead. You may occasionally be offered a personal library from a church member’s estate, which can be overwhelming. Subject those books to your usual acceptance standards, and pre-weed older material and that less likely to circulate. But be sure to express gratitude for the gems you keep.

Many churches invest in a computer and library software, which can be a great help to both librarian and reader. Look into covering that sizeable expense through Memorial funds, or perhaps a personal donation. So far as you can, make sure the computer is powerful enough to cover future needs.

And the verdict is . . .

After you prayerfully contemplate whether your church should undertake a ministry for readers, and examine its feasibility and begin to flesh out a vision, you will deliver the verdict.

As our tanking economy slows down book sales it also may cause readers to take a second look at the church library. This may be the perfect time to provide one.

July 6, 2009

Week Two

Monday evening was spent moving everything else that was in the lounge and the library into Sunday school classrooms for the duration of the project.

Tuesday was a HUGE demolition day! Here are the before pictures:

The lounge will be completely gutted

The two walls with the windows and the brown paneled wall seen through the doorway are all going to be removed, all of the ceiling tile/supporting brackets in the lounge, library and adjacent hallways, removed carpeting some to be reused and some discarded, removed two interior windows.

Here are the after pictures:

And the trailer that hauled it all of way:

All of this was done by a group of 4 volunteers who worked all day plus about 6 others who helped for parts of the day!

Now we are done in this area until the contractors finish their work with new walls, ceiling, and electrical for lighting.

Now we need to work on putting the new lounge together. Having a contractor reinstall the carpeting and finding volunteers to paint, build a closet and move furniture back in.

June 28, 2009

OSLC Library Week One

Week One was busy putting shelves together. Last week we spent about 4 hours cleaning the shelves off - considering it had been through a fire, stored in a warehouse for two years (think home to pigeons!) and our garage for another year (think lots of sawdust) it wasn't as bad a job as I was expecting!

On Sunday afternoon we spent about 3 hours and 2 trips to a Hibbing hardware store (or as my husband says - "The Dad Mall") assembling the shelves with just a few pieces to spare! The shelves look really great and will double our current shelving capacity.

It took about 8 hours on evenings throughout the week to move all of the books onto these shelves so our current shelves could be dismantled. Today we spent 3 1/2 hours dismantling our current shelves and moving them down to our temporary storage area. Including time to carefully mark the shelve so we could easily put them back together again when the ceiling, carpeting and painting is done!

This week we start moving furniture and our initial demolition of the walls and ceilings.

June 22, 2009

Redesigning a Library

Have you ever redesigned a library? Me neither, but if you follow our blog I will posting updates as Our Savior's Lutheran Church (OSLC) of Hibbing, MN goes through the process.

OSLC has a library with about 1500 books and about 200 videos in a small room about 10 x 18 on a well traveled hallway between the sanctuary and the Sunday school wing of the church. A year ago a church family made a donation of $10,000 to develop a multi-media center for the church. After much discussion over what a "Multi-media" room was and how our church members would use it. We ended up combining our current library, Sunday School Superintendent's desk, and a lounge into one multi-purpose area with a secondary lounge in another part of the building.

$10,000 sounds like a lot of money but we soon realized it was not when you add together the cost of new ceilings, carpeting, paint, lights, shelves, and desks, chairs, tables, and glass walls. We had hoped to put a glass wall around one end of the library but that ended up being way out of our budget.

We also looked at new wooden library grade shelving but again it was much more expensive than we could afford. Fortunately a local public library was selling their old metal shelving so we were able to purchase used maroon shelving that matched our current black shelving for a much more reasonable price.

Our library will now be 42 x 18 feet and include an area for children to gather for storytimes, a large conference table for small group meetings, Sunday school superintendent and separate librarian work areas, and will be an inviting area for people to gather as they enter the building.

On June 29th we start moving furniture.

Below are the current and planned floor plan for the library.

Current Library

New Library Design

Please click on comments and tell us about your library remodeling experience or ask questions about ours.

Chris Magnusson
Our Savior's Lutheran Church Library
Hibbing, MN

May 5, 2009

What's in Your Inbox?

Found anything worth sharing in your email inbox lately? A member recently forwarded this to us, seen in Author Susan May Warren's e-newsletter:

I was that girl who rode her bike to the library every Saturday morning . . .

. . . tucked herself in the aisles, whiled away the day choosing exactly the right book for the following week, and then packed my backpack, WAY too full, and then pedaled furiously home, my bag bumping against my back.

I love the library. It's like a box of chocolates, only the entire box is mine for the tasting! There are SO many wonderful books out there, but sometimes it's difficult to know which ones to read.

Our local librarian is like a therapist - she knows the books I love, and recommends others. Which is why librarians are key, especially for Christian fiction. When a person comes in hunting for the right book to deal with their Christian walk, having someone point them the right direction tells them that they aren't alone. It says that someone is linking arms with them on their journey.

I am so grateful for librarians who partner with me in getting out the word about Christian fiction. I can only write the best book I can -- it's up to librarians to put it into the right hands. Thank you for your ministry!

Susan May Warren is the author of over two dozen Christian Fiction books including 2009 Christy Award Finalist Finding Stefanie. Visit to find out about the author's latest projects and sign up for her e-newsletter.

MARC Record Survey

The Library of Congress is studying the use of MARC records and the economics of continuing to provide these services. Some services may be discontinued as a result of this study, especially those elements not widely used.

If your library uses MARC records, regardless of how you acquire them, your feedback is very valuable. Click here to complete the Library MARC Record Use Survey. The deadline to complete the survey is May 22, 2009.

For more detailed information on the study, see Library of Congress Announces Study of Bibliographic Record Production - January 2009 Press Release

Thanks to our friends on LINC List and the Bibliographic Record Production blogsite for letting us know about this research study.

Fox Valley Chapter Shares Their Special Day


I want to share with you my special day at our chapter meeting on April 4. I will try to keep it simple!

There were 35 in attendance—one of our best turnouts in recent times. We meet fall and spring, north one meeting, south the next, in the Appleton or Green Bay Wisconsin area if you look at a map. We met this time at Peace Lutheran in Neenah.

Three librarians who are just starting libraries were in attendance. One lady was thrilled with the swap table and got books that now bring their collection to 32! St. Paul's Lutheran, Fremont, another library just getting started, was also there. They had visited my church library, joined NCLA and our church got the $10 referral certificate.

Everyone sends their best to National Board member Chris Magnusson and thanks her again for her part in making our Anniversary Meeting a success.

Our speakers were two local ladies who together have authored a poetry book and another book, the story of one of the women's mothers, who as a widow in Door County, WI raised her three children and took care of the farm. It was very well received, and many copies were sold afterwards.

Then we talked about the National Conference—Shirley and Nancy from Bethany, Green Bay, and me (see our picture above from the winter issue of Libraries Alive!). Shirley talked about the "Promoting the Library" presentation. She even went to Home Depot who cut and gave her enough closet unit parts for book displays for each of the churches represented.

Nancy talked about June Wishman's presentation "The Farmer's Daughter", and that went very well with our previous guest speakers' sharing.

I spoke last about the presentation by the authors at the conference, and introduced the group to the Christian Authors' Network. I also talked about my experience joining the National Board. I shared a little about the members of the board, our telephone conference meetings, and how we are going to strive to be more in touch with the Chapters—which they were very glad to hear.

I was asked about the conference of the future. One librarian told of going once, and wishing she had the funds to go again. The group said they love the sharing that happens after the conference when others who have attended come back.

I felt different at this meeting. I was no longer there solely because of my responsibility to my church and what I could learn. To all of those in attendance, I was also there to represent NCLA.

Following our meeting we enjoyed a nice lunch of chicken cordon bleu from Sam's Club!

So, that's it in a nutshell. I am glad to answer any questions you may have!

Kathleen Bowman
NCLA Fox Valley WI Chapter & National NCLA Board Member

March 2, 2009

Chapters Keep it Simple

NCLA chapter members are finding new and creative ways to connect with each other. We recently heard from three groups trying new approaches to networking on a local level.

Instead of formal meetings, the Rockford IL Chapter now gathers three times a year at a local restaurant. “We find that this informal meeting works just great for us. We share problems, successes, discuss new or well-received books and ways of promoting our individual libraries,” explains President Ruth Anderson.

Our newest chapter in Western New York recognizes that everyone has busy schedules and time constraints for meeting in person. Although they have met in person, they are focusing more on connecting and supporting each other online. “So far, an informal setting has worked well,” reports organizer Moe Conley.

The Lake Superior MN Chapter has converted their traditional board leadership structure to a less formal "Planning Team" structure. NCLA’s oldest chapter in existence lost several officers in the past year and were unable to find volunteers able to step up to their long-established president, vice president, secretary and treasurer jobs.

Their solution? They now have a new group of four volunteers working together informally as a team. At a recent January meeting, they agreed on a basic, overarching strategy:

• Keep things simple. Meetings will be informal, with coffee and treats available at the beginning and throughout the meeting for people to enjoy. Paper plates and Styrofoam cups are acceptable! No big lunch production will be held at the end. They recognize that not all churches have a large library committee, and this is a way to enable and encourage smaller churches to host gatherings.

• Emphasize sharing! Round tables will be a regular part of every meeting. This way, they say, everyone will have an opportunity to share their knowledge and the time is not spent entirely sitting passively with a speaker.

• Lighten up on record keeping. A volunteer will be asked to take notes at each meeting in lieu of more formal minutes. Copies of the meeting “minutes” and a finance report will be made available, but time will not be spent reading them aloud at each meeting.

NCLA has 21 chapters across the U.S. They vary widely in how they are structured. Many of our long-standing chapters continue to operate under a traditional arrangement. Other chapters find it easier to operate less formally, like the ones highlighted here. No matter what the structure, the networking opportunities chapter members receive are invaluable.

Interested in finding other church librarians in your area? We can search our member database to find out who your NCLA church library neighbors are.

Want to join a local NCLA chapter? We can help you find a local chapter, or start a new chapter if one does not currently exist in your area. Contact NCLA by email at or call 651-430-0770 to make a new connection today!

We invite you to share your comments and questions about networking and local chapters. Click on "comments" below to join the conversation!

January 20, 2009

The Church Library's Role in Difficult Economic Times

Only you know what your congregation needs. Consider the support you could offer by providing Christian resources for job hunting, for example, transforming your library into a vibrant ministry that changes lives.

Is access to the Internet a service your library should offer?

Click on "comments" to share your ideas:

Maintaining Patron Privacy

With limited time and resources, how you can you ensure privacy in the church library?

One library that uses signature cards and pockets recommends keeping black sharpies handy. The previous borrower's name can easily be crossed out keeping the signature private. While this isn't a perfect solution, the librarian says, it works well and is affordable.

Bev Etzelmueller of St. Matthew's Evangelical Lutheran Church in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin shares that handling sensative books allows her be aware of hurts and concerns of members, sometimes before the pastors do. She says, "With compassion and God's love, I guide members to the needed suggestions. I always say a prayer for that person as I'm driving home from church." (Now that is true library ministry.)

How do you maintain privacy in your library? Click on "Comments" below to leave your ideas.

January 6, 2009

Church Library Outreach: Creativity is Key

1. Church Staff:
If you haven't had a chance to meet with your pastors or other church staff about your congregation's library, make the New Year a time to schedule those appointments. These meetings should occur at least once a year. Discover what books your pastors are reading, what publishers they like, and if they have any particular favorites they'd like to see in the church library. Ask about any pre-planned sermon series and plan to offer books that support upcoming topics or themes. Be sure to meet with staff in both the children and adult education ministries to learn what books or media they'd like to see added to the church library. Offer to let them know about resources you have access to that they may not be familiar with. Finally, remember that all church staff can use the NCLA Discounts included with your membership.

2. Support Groups Using Your Church:
Most churches host a variety of events and community groups as a service to the public and ministry opportunity. Consider making a "Recovery Library" available to any recovery groups meeting in your church. Appropriate books can be purchased through Hazeldon Publishing or contact The Hazeldon Foundation about its "BookAID" program. "BookAID" provides recovery resources to needy groups and individuals including churches. Also consider creating new, dedicated sections in your library on divorce recovery, healing from cancer or dealing with grief. These resources can be of particular comfort to those attending support group meetings at your church who may not be attending worship regularly but need a church home and spiritual comfort. Yes, there is always the concern about circulating these books; however, many church librarians who make these resources available feel this is an important enough ministry to warrant the risk of un-returned books.

3. Community Members and Visitors:
Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and other community groups may use your church for meetings on a regular basis. Care Notes by Abbey Press can be made available with labels that read, "Brought to You with Care by Greenwood Baptist Library. Visit us in Room 203". Be sure that your church library is sensitive to the needs of both mature and new Christians. Consider having a permanent display of books for people new to the Christian faith. It's easy to forget that while church culture is familiar to most of us, there are still people for whom it is foreign and uncomfortable.

Do you have comments about the Church Library as a Ministry? Share your comments with others by clicking on the link below.