Running a Church Library

MANY of our evangelists and church pastors have long felt the need for organizing church libraries or reading rooms. They have found them a useful tool in arousing interest in our message. These church libraries also foster the spiritual growth of our church members. . .

MANY of our evangelists and church pastors have long felt the need for organizing church libraries or reading rooms. They have found them a useful tool in arousing interest in our message. These church libraries also foster the spiritual growth of our church members.

How then can a church library be organized? It isn't as time consuming as one might imagine. In planning a church library careful attention needs to be paid to the following points: (a) location, (b) book stock, (f) office records, (d) staff, (e) library promotion.

In discussing each of these points it is well to ponder the Five Laws of Library Science, as enunciated by India's leading librarian, S. R. Ranganathan. They are: (a) Books are for use. (b) Every reader his book, (c) Every book its reader, (d) Save the time of the reader, (e) Library is a growing organism.

The Location

Your church library must be centrally located. The room or rooms chosen must satisfy certain basic requirements lighting, space, ventilation, and washroom facilities.

Besides these the room itself must be physically attractive. There should be an adequate number of tables, chairs, and other furnishings aside from book shelves, magazine racks, and dictionary stands.

The Book Stock

This is the very heart of your church library. It is axiomatic that one cannot have a library without an adequate stock of books. The library book stock must grow it must be a living collection. Dead wood will have to be weeded out. Aside from initial gifts, some finance will have to be provided for book purchases. This can come out of a regular fund or through a special offering.

The book collection should include Bibles, sets of the Spirit of Prophecy writings, MV Book Club books, biographies of Christian leaders, missionaries, et cetera, inspirational books, how-to-do-it books for church officers, books on cooking, nutrition, and on temperate living. It should include magazines such as: Signs of the Times, Liberty, The Youth's Instructor, Guide, The Journal of Adventist Education, Listen, Review and Herald, THE MINISTRY, et cetera.

To care for the proper preservation and circulation of these books and magazines some office records need to be kept. Keep them down to the minimum. Some church member or layman could do this work on a voluntary basis. You will need records for accessioning new books, registering borrowers, and recording loans of books and magazines.

Enter all books serially in a bound or loose-leaf accession register. The name of the church library should be stamped on the title page and on a secret page be it page 21, 51, or 60. This is for purposes of identification. The accession register is the key to your church library.

All prospective borrowers must fill in either a borrower's application card or fill out an entry in a borrower's register giving their names and addresses. Include their telephone numbers.

The recording of loans can be done in a simplified manner. Use an exercise book. Draw columns for the name of the borrower, the title of the book, the date of issue, and the date of return.

The normal period for lending books is two weeks. I personally feel that a church library does not need elaborate records or even a card catalog unless its total book stock exceeds eighteen hundred books.


In your congregation you can find some person or persons willing to help run the library on a voluntary basis. Whoever is chosen must have certain personality traits, such as a sound Christian character, honesty, cheerfulness, and above all a love for people and books.

Library Promotion

Through the use of church notices and posters attention can be drawn to helpful books, new additions, et cetera. It would be well for the pastor to include an annual sermon on some aspects of reading. The pastor must be convinced of the value of reading good Christian books before he can promote the church library.

Church libraries or reading rooms can play a great role in the furtherance of our message. Why not follow the advice of Habakkuk who wrote: "Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it" (Hab. 2:2).

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February 1970

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