We do not have the good public libraries in South Africa which are to be found in Europe and America, and many of our brethren work in small towns where there are no public libraries. It is true also that most of our ministers do not have sufficient funds to procure a large number of books. Personally I have felt for a considerable time that as workers we are in grave danger of rusting mentally while we wear out physically. I mentioned the idea to one or two of our brethren in the union office, and they immediately saw light in the plan. The matter was then placed before the union committee, and although sonic of the brethren were lukewarm, others were enthusiastic.
One reason which caused some of us to feel concerned was a Bible workers' institute which was held some time ago. We called in a number of our best workers to give lectures upon various topics, and as we listened to the lectures, it was very apparent that some of our men were not keeping up to date with their information on current events. Certain historical statements which they made were not drawn from reliable sources, and could easily be held up to question by an opponent.
To assist our workers in this matter, the South African Union Conference cooperated with the local fields in building up a lending ministerial library, which is available to all our workers. The books are of educational, spiritual, and cultural value.
Every six months a duplicated list of available books, listing titles and authors, and giving a brief review of each volume, is sent out to the field. We add to this list from time to time, as new books are available. The funds for the books are provided proportionately by the union, local conferences, and mission fields. On the inside cover of each book we paste the following rules, or conditions governing the loan of the books:
1. Books will be on loan for a period of one month only.
2. Outgoing postage to the worker will be borne by the library, but return postage must be borne by the worker. No other charge will be made.
3. Only one book will be sent out to any worker at one time, which book must be returned before a further book can be obtained.
4. Books should not be marked and should be kept in as good condition as possible, care being taken to protect from injury when in transit through the post by returning them in the wrapper in which they are sent out.
5. In applying for books, a second and third choice should be listed in case the desired book is already out in the field,
6. All requests for books will be dealt with in rotation and should be addressed to:
P. 0. Box 468
7. Books should not be passed on from one worker to another, but should be returned to the office. This is necessary to prevent books' becoming lost.
The response to the plan has not been as gratifying as we had hoped, but the returns indicate that the needs exist which gave rise to the plan. The majority of our requests come from our younger workers. 'The books are selected by a committee composed of the union officers and departmental secretaries. We receive suggestions from men in the field, as well as keeping a lookout for suitable books ourselves.