January 19, 2010

Start the New Year Refreshed

Church librarians pride ourselves at being organized but things often seem to get a little out of control for us over the holidays. Now that the new year has arrived, have you found yourself in the middle of a major housecleaning or re-organizing project? For many of us, freshening up the spaces around us is a revitalizing ritual we go through every year at this time.

It’s easy to immerse yourself in a mid-winter library cleaning project and get drawn off course. You may start out simply intending to dust the books and shelves or redo a book display or two. But as you get going, you start noticing mis-shelved books. As you re-shelve the wayward books, you start thinking about how tight shelf space is getting in a few sections of the collection. Soon the lure of re-shelving those few errant titles has drawn you in to a major reorganization of your collection.

Stopping in the middle of one project and taking up a new one ultimately wastes time and can exhaust the energy we have to finish the project we originally intended. To make the most of your time, it’s best to come up with a plan before you begin.

Start out by taking a visual scan of the space. Leave the room and re-enter with new eyes. What do you see? How does it make you feel? What do you like or dislike? Make a checklist—either written or mental—of what you want to accomplish.

Eliminating clutter may be the first thing on your list. Messy brochures and magazines are easy targets. Does anyone really use them? If not, get rid of them. Outdated wall art, faded props, kitschy knick knacks and out of fashion decorating schemes can make spaces seem small, tired and uninviting. Adopting a more modern, minimalist approach will create breathing room and open up precious library real estate.

The remaining items on your checklist should be the steps or goals to complete the project you have identified. Is an overall cleaning needed? Is it time to brighten up the space with a fresh coat of paint? Could the room be more inviting by rearranging the furnishings? Would new signage make the space more welcoming? Is there a storage closet or workspace that needs organizing? Having a goal, and a plan in mind to accomplish it, will increase your chances that your project will be successfully completed.

Think through the project from start to finish. Gather supplies, set aside time on your calendar and coordinate dates with volunteers if needed. Have a notebook handy to jot down those side projects you identify along the way and resist the temptation to start any of them now.

The benefits of freshening up your library spaces are many. You’ll have completed a project that you and others can enjoy. You’ll have created a new reason to promote the library. And maybe best of all, you will have given yourself a much needed mental vacation, freeing your mind so you are ready to get back into normal routines.

Spotlight on California: News from Sierra-Central Valley NCLA Chapter

CA Sierra-Central Valley NCLA Chapter met on Saturday, October 10, 2009 at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Sacramento. Morning activities included a free book exchange, devotions and a business meeting. Everyone was then invited to tour the sanctuary and library.

Prior to lunch, librarians gave book talks, recommending newly discovered titles (see list below) and spent time sharing their ideas and concerns with one another in an open forum.

After lunch the group was treated to a talk from humorist Rev. Norris Burkes. Burkes writes a nationally syndicated column and is a chaplain for the California Air National Guard, recently returning from a voluntary tour in Iraq. He also serves as a pediatric chaplain for Sutter Medical Center in Sacramento and has written a book, No Small Miracles: Heartwarming, humorous, and hopeful stories from a pediatric chaplain.

A popular book door prize drawing was held at the end of the meeting. Winners were able to select their prize, making sure the books they brought home were ones they could use in their libraries.

Books recommended at the fall Sierra-Central Valley NCLA Chapter meeting:
• Refiner’s Fire Series (Candle in the Darkness, Fire by Night, A Light to my Path) by Lynn Austin. Bethany House, 2004.
All Through the Night by Davis Bunn. Bethany House, 2008.
Faith Lessons: That the World May Know (7 DVD set). From the books by Ray Vander Lann.
The Prayer of Jesus: Developing Intimacy with God through Christ’s Example, by Mike Nappa. Barbour, 2001.
Dead Man Walking by Helen Prejean. Random House, 1993.
Lost in the Woods: a Photgraphic Fantasy, Carl R. Sams II Photography, 2004.
The Ultimate Gift by Jim Stovall. Daved C. Cook, 2007.