Our Books in Public Libraries

Thousands are asking, "Who are these Ad­ventists anyway? What is their origin? What do they believe? What are they teaching, and why?"

L.E.F. is editor of the Ministry. 

As never before, the Voice of Prophecy and our many local broadcasts have di­rected wide attention to Seventh-day Advent­ists. The expanding distribution of our mission­ary journals and our many books constantly augments this acquaintance. The Liberty mag­azine has been a friend maker. The attractive temperance journal Listen is a new recruit. The publicity that has attended our humani­tarian efforts during and since the war has played its part. And the rising tempo of evan­gelism is arousing inquiry among many who see our announcements, but who do not actually go to the public services.

Thousands are asking, "Who are these Ad­ventists anyway? What is their origin? What do they believe? What are they teaching, and why?" An increasing number turn to their local libraries for an answer to their questions. And in nine cases out of ten these inquirers are unable to glean any fair or comprehensive information in the libraries of the land. Clara Endicott Sears' distorted Days of Delusion, Canright's misrepresentative Seventh-day Adventists Exposed, and similar books form the bulk of available items listed on Adventism in most libraries, including great university and metropolitan libraries. This situation consti­tutes a mighty challenge to us as ministers. It thrusts a personal and individual responsibility upon us as workers to see that this situation is changed, and this need supplied.

Public libraries, together with state libraries, private libraries, church and college libraries, university libraries, and seminary and Bible Institute libraries, afford one of the greatest single opportunities ever provided for instilling sound, representative information concerning the commissioned message of Seventh-day Ad­ventists to the world.

At present anti-Adventist books have right of way in most of these institutions. Counter-actives are urgently needed. These include more than the occasional sermon that may be heard in pavilion hall, tabernacle, theater, or church; and more than the intermittent broadcasts heard over the air. Entire books—com­petently written and complete in presentation, with all the protective safeguards of experi­enced book committee readers, copy editors, and proofreaders—afford an adequate approach to and representation of our faith, and provide an appeal that is unsurpassed.

Such competent books never argue or answer back. They do not become irritated, or misrepresent the cause. They do not use unworthy arguments or evidences. They do not present extreme positions or give an unbalanced emphasis. They bear their witness with becoming dignity. They are consistent, always bearing the same testimony, always yielding the same references, always convincingly at hand. We as a people have been slow to sense these pos­sibilities, and to make a concerted effort to put a representative group of books, properly chosen and uniformly distributed, on the li­brary shelves of the land. Such volumes would counteract the distorted, libelous books about us, found in nearly every library.

The libraries therefore present a challenge, an opportunity, an opening that we cannot lightly ignore. Here is a matter that we as workers should grip in long-range, comprehen­sive planning. Our present plan for compre­hensive sets for leading North American libra­ries touches only five hundred larger libraries over a five-year period. There are thousands of smaller libraries that should have at least a nucleus of standard Seventh-day Adventist books upon their shelves. Our local pastors and congregations are best equipped to accomplish this task.

L. E. F.

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L.E.F. is editor of the Ministry. 

October 1949

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