Planning a Church Library
May 2023 — One of my new goals is to plan a church library for our mid-sized congregation of ECO Presbyterians here in Arkansas. A great resource that I found to help with this is the Church Librarians’ Network. This online group is coordinated by Morlee Maynard, and the URL is churchLibrarians.NING.com. The mission of this NING is “…to learn from each other as we seek to connect people with books and media which glorify God and transform lives.”
Wait… What’s a NING?
NINGs have been around since 2005, but you might be unfamiliar with them. They are set up similiarly to other social media sites, like Facebook, but allow the coordinator to have more local control over the ins and outs. In this NING, Maynard facilitates conversation among those who join, sets up avenues for sharing information, provides resources such as photos, and sells resources to help those involved in church library ministry.
A Virtual File Cabinet for Church Librarians
As I’ve had time to sift through this site, I’ve been happy to find a huge assortment of resources that are helping me get off to a good start. Everything is well-organized into red-tabbed sections such as Q&A, Articles, Resources, and so on. There are also designated places to journal your own process, find related websites, learn about library automation software, and make connections with others who are involved in a library ministry. There’s even a place to discuss what you’ve been reading.
Training for Church Library Ministries
One particularly interesting tab reads “EQUIP.” If you are not already a librarian and feel completely stumped about how to get started, this section may be helpful to you as you begin to plan your church library. Training modules are lined out for a document called Church Library Ministry Information Service. This is a PDF download that’s available for purchase through Lifeway, a Christian bookseller. (The cost in May 2023 was $14.99.) The document is marketed as 150 pages of information about “…administration, cataloging and classification, collection development, and promotion.” Since I was not able to see a copyright, I am holding off on this for now, but if I decide to purchase it, I will share a review.
But first things first… in order to use the NING, you will need to request a membership, which is free. One of the perks of joining is receiving a helpful “get started” document as well as a weekly Monday morning newsletter with links back to conversation threads concerning everything from free library supplies to VBS to recruiting volunteers. Start here — Church Librarian’s Network Link
As someone who has been a school librarian for 24 years, I am happy to have found a specialized niche with resources for library ministry! Stay tuned for more about my journey to build a church library.
Choosing Library Software and Remembering Dewey
July 2023 – I began our church library journey by researching and setting up the software. I’ll be using Libib Pro. At first, it was between Tiny Cat by Library Thing, Libib Pro, and LibraryWorld. (I had used BookSystem’s Atriuum software for many, many years as a school librarian, so I’m a little sad — and I know I will be missing all of their amazing tools — but I’m sure their product is not in my budget. The rep didn’t even get back to me, but that’s okay. 🙂
I decided Libib PRO was the best for us at $9/per month for up to 100,000 items — books, movies, and music… (I doubt we’ll have any video games in the church library — BUT that’s an available option, too). They have a lot of features that I’m feeling good about, and this chart shows what I was thinking through during my decision-making period:
My best advice is to think about who your patrons will be and how/when they will most likely use your collection. Then do some research. Most of the library software websites have little videos to watch, which was helpful. To me, Libib PRO seemed to have the most features in place as well as an app — for the least money. They also offer a discount for non-profit use. Tiny Cat was my runner-up, but their cost was greater for less collection items — and no app. Library World was the most expensive at $499 a year and that was way out of reach for what we need, so honestly, I did the least research on their site.
At this point, I’ve started the cataloguing books that I intend to personally donate. These are books from our shelves at home. They are all great titles that I’m very familiar with — many are Christian fiction titles that I enjoyed, and a few are Christian non-fiction. Others are from past days of reading aloud to my son when he was little, and quite a few are from my children’s ministry days. Starting with these familiar books has given me a chance to figure out how the software works. Plus, I can decide the fields that I want to include or skip, figure out how I want the catalog to look (Libib allows some custom branding) and decide which search tools I want to incorporate.
We have many books at church to keep me going for awhile, too. Quite a few are stuffed onto Sunday School room shelves and others have been recently donated by church members. Coming up with a selection policy for keeping (and or weeding) donations is next on my list. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, of course, but our little church building doesn’t have the space to accept every donated book either.
Cataloguing the Church Library
After being retired for two years and undergoing chemo during one of those years …I’ve apparently lost a lot of Dewey knowledge that used to be ever-ready in my brain after 25 years of being a librarian! I decided that I needed a Dewey “cheat sheet” to help my brain recall all of those category breakdowns! (See sample in graphic above — and access the website from the button below.)
Although this is not MY personal freebie by any means, I do want to link the website here because it took me a few minutes of hunting to find a good list! The linked PDF document is from OCLC (Online Computer Library Center, Inc.) and it shares the Dewey cataloguing summaries in three forms. All of which are SO HELPFUL when you are trying to input books that are much older. Unfortunately, its copyright is 2003. I’m not sure if that will be a problem yet, or not.
I also purchased Classification System for Church Libraries from Lifeway Press. This e-document is pictured on the laptop photo above. Its copyright is even more outdated — 1996. However, I’ve found that it has been a good starting place. It’s categories are very broken down, which is nice. It also has an extensive index. On the whole, the e-document is a little cumbersome to use online, but much better than nothing. That’s all for now… I’ll pop back in soon and share how it’s going.
Emails and Subscription Fees
August 2023 — Just a thought — when you set up your Libib (or other library software) I recommend creating a dedicated email account to communicate with their business office and support team. I did not want to use my personal email or my That Library Girl email address. Even in remission for cancer (and thank You, God for that!) … if I have to turn this project over to someone else in the future — I didn’t want the mess of having our church library business mixed up with my personal and/or That Library Girl email accounts.
At first, I was just going to use our church email address — but then I remembered that I like to work in the wee small hours of the morning! (Also, our church admin assistant is part-time, so if I needed to see an email quickly — say it contained the answer to a question I had, or a code that I needed, or other information to help me get my work done — I would have to wait until a day/time that our sweet Beth was at work to request a forward. So, I got permission from our Session to set up a separate gmail account — just for the “___library email@example.com” — whether that’s me or someone else in the future.
I also used the church credit card to purchase our library software subscription (and found out that Libib gives a very nice discount to non-profit organizations! YAY — how nice!) Again, this separation was important to me, so my personal money won’t be mixed up with church money. My husband and I actually donated the first year of subscription fee, but we wrote a check of reimbursement to our church. I’m just determined to keep everything well-organized from the get-go!
July and August have been super busy for That Library Girl, so I’m not where I had HOPED to be at this point, but I feel like I’m beginning to make a little progress with the church library project now. More updates later!
Making Entries into Your Catalog
September 2023 – Although many of the books that I’m adding to our church library are older donations from church members, I haven’t had trouble finding the MARC — MAchine-Readable Cataloging — record info on any of them yet. (Okay… let me stop here for a moment to say… if you’re not a formally-trained librarian, you can get a good overview of MARC records by going to THIS LINK, the information is provided by the Library of Congress. Additional information on cataloguing can be found on the OCLC — Online Computer Library Center — website at THIS LINK.)
The Libib software is very straightforward. (See photo above.) In the sidebar:
#1 Click “Add Items.”
#2 Next, go to “Search for Books” and type in your title.
#3 Choose from the entries that are generated. When you find the one you need, click “Add Item.”
#4 Then, you can go in and add to or delete any of the entry fields to meet your particular needs. So easy!
This has worked for all of our books, so far! When I hit a snag, I’ll write a new post about how I solved the issue.
Church Library Book Repair and Restoration
Late September 2023 – As I sort through the donations for our church library, I’ve been finding some books that have seen better days! When I worked through my master’s program in library science, we didn’t cover book repair or preservation at all. Most of what I’ve learned about book repair came from a one-day workshop, presented by KAPCO, many years ago!
This was a super helpful and hands-on workshop, set up by our local educational co-op. We were asked to bring 3-5 damaged books from our own school collections for repair demonstrations. The only issue with this instruction was that all of the repairs featured specific KAPCO products, of course, which were a bit pricey for an elementary school librarian with a small budget – so I didn’t always have what I needed on hand. However… when I DID have the KAPCO products available – they always worked very well! These days, KAPCO (now KAPCO KENT) has a YouTube channel with many videos to demo their specialized book repair techniques.
Another great place to find guidance in repairing and preserving books, especially older books, is a website called SAVE YOUR BOOKS. This website belongs to Sophia SW Bogle, who holds a diploma in book preservation – and boasts over 25 years of experience in repairing and restoring books. Ms. Bogle also quite literally “wrote the book” on this topic, or at least A book. Her website is very well-organized and includes both free and paid courses on book repair with videos embedded in. One of these courses is specifically about Bible repair and preservation. If you have a particularly delicate situation, Ms. Bogle offers one-on-one consultation as well.
A library supply company called DEMCO offers a very user-friendly “Book Doctor” line of resources accompanied by blog posts and even a FREE PDF document with helpful instructions and step-by-step photos. Within the guide, you’ll learn about:
– common book care terms
– protecting soft-cover and hard-cover books
– cleaning soiled books
– and doing basic book repair tasks.
Similar to KAPCO KENT, DEMCO’s instruction features DEMCO products, which are available on the website.
While not offering instruction (that I could find) another online library supply company called THE LIBRARY STORE does offer an impressive variety of book repair tools – including a wide array of book cleaners in the form of powders, pads, erasers, gels, tape/sticker removers, and sprays. This vast collection also includes several products to deodorize books, deacidify books, and preserve (or restore) leather bindings.
Although this is not an all-inclusive line-up my any means, I do have direct experience with each of these vendors… and that’s why I included them in my list. I’ll end this post by sharing a non-vendor YouTube channel produced by the Syracuse University Library. Along with a thorough book repair video for beginners, other clips feature a variety of specific book repair situations with the repair tasks aptly demonstrated. The one showing how to save a “dropped-in-a-rainy-day-puddle” book was super helpful to me!
Hopefully, this collection of book repair resources will come in handy as you care for your church library collection!