Setting Up a Library – NLW 2014

Setting up a librarySetting Up a Library: How to Begin or Begin Again

Submitter: I showed this book to my co-worker and she said, “Where did you find that?” I hated to tell her it was in 027. Worse, it circ’d in 2011. Here are the totally incomprehensible instructions. To be clear, these are the complete instructions, not the table of contents. 8 pages of this stuff. Then there is the up-to-the-minute bibliography. Even keeping in mind this is a publication of the Church and Synagogue Library Association, it’s not the most professional thing I ever saw.

Holly: So, this is an 8-page booklet on how to set up a library. As in, start-to-finish, eight (8) pages. Granted, it only promises to tell you “How to Begin,” not how to run the thing. You’ll get a few pages of how to set it up and a list of books about how to be a librarian and run the place. My only real gripe is that it dumbs down the behemoth project that is setting up a library. Step one is “Analyze information requirements of the congregation,” but we all know how detailed a project a true needs analysis is. Each piece of Step 6 (shown below) is a library science course in and of itself! A master’s level course. Most of the books listed in the bibliography are too old to be useful (or even available). If all you needed to do (in 1979) was get an idea of what is involved in setting up a church/synagogue library, this was a bare-bones starting point.

Develop program plan

Selecting library materials

Stretch your horizons - outreach


  1. I think that last bit is saying, “Its not our this wasn’t enough information to set up and run your library. You should have had more faith.”

  2. I think the book is meant to be a starting point. However I agree there is not enough information to help.

  3. This reminds me of a principal under whom I worked. In its wisdom, my school district decided to eliminate the position of librarian from the elementary schools and to have clerks run the school libraries. When a teacher asked this principal who would order books, she said, “I’ll order the books. Anybody can order books.” I thought, Oh, so that’s why I took a graduate-level course in curriculum development. Huh.

  4. I was a parent volunteer in an elementary school library the early 80’s. I attended a meeting at another elementary school in the system. That school’s library didn’t have a card catalog, because the principal said “The public library across the street has a catalog.”

  5. Despite guidance from the Church & Synagogue Library Association available for lo these many years, most church libraries are three bookcases filled with old Sunday school books, multiple copies of Lenten Bible study books from years ago, Bibles of all kinds (pocket-sized New Testaments, a few Sunday school presentation Bibles, old hymnals (including the ones from the predecessor denomination), and a desultory assortment of fiction (oldies like Christy; newer ones like Jan Karon’s Mitford series, plus Shelley Shepard Gray, Brock & Bodie Thoene, etc.).

    I have refused to have anything to do with church libraries — that’s as a librarian and as a pastor’s spouse!

  6. It might have circ’ed in 2011 to someone like me, doing research on the history of libraries. This stuff can be hard to find, since most libraries weed it because it’s outdated. If you’re weeding it, I’d be happy to have it, and/or any other books like this (such as the ALA rules for filing catalog cards–I use that one a lot in my research). I’d pay shipping. Shoot me an email if you’re interested.

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