Magical Rooms

My pastor asked me to “fix up” the church library.  It was in need of some updating, and hasn’t really even been used much lately.  When my daughter, Solanna, and I first meandered in the modest space, she proclaimed her obvious reason for its abandonment: “Ooh! This place majorly needs new carpet!”  Well, that’s not in the budget, but the elders were happy to let me order a beginning installment of new books.  That’s like giving a five-year-old a twenty dollar bill and free reign in a candy store.  Things were looken’ up! …until I took a look around.  About 25% of the library space was filled with media—not the kind of media you’re thinking.  There were numerous shelves overtaken by cassette tape collections of audio studies and sermons, as well as an extensive VHS collection.    The carpet was starting to look pretty. I already knew that my version of updating with printed books is becoming everyone else’s dinosaur.  Future church libraries, if they keep them, will probably have more e-readers than printed books.  That saddens me a bit.  As I looked around, packing up large containers full of Veggie Tales and Ligonier cassette studies, I found I was amongst a cloud of witnesses that went before me.  I dusted off many treasures that have surely passed through hands of members from our church who are now with the Lord.  E-reader’s can’t offer this kind of intimacy. I’m really hoping I can revive the community that a library offers in my church.  As you suggest and lend books, you share more than just knowledge.  Seth Godin made a good point that the librarian is an important tool in which we need to keep.  My school librarians were always kind of intimidating; and the Dewey Decimal system made me cringe.  I’m happy to say goodbye to the card catalog.  With the internet and interactive ebooks, today’s reader can conduct quick, independent research.  Tim Challies talks a lot about how these mediated devices of technology have isolated their owners.  We might have magical books, but we’re losing magical rooms. Here is the challenge for the church librarian.  Can we act as a human mediator of reading material?  Can I get to know my fellow congregants better to understand their reading needs?  Am I researched enough to know what is available to them?  Can I connect them with other people in the church who may help, or have similar interests?  Can I get the younger crowd to look passed the ugly carpet and see the magical room? Many churches today have some sort of coffee-room to encourage community.  I’m a lover of all rooms with coffee.  But I think we are missing the point.  Coffee rooms in churches are usually missing the barista.  And my church library has been missing a librarian.  Hopefully I can focus on using my resources to point our small covenant community to the Ultimate Mediator, Jesus Christ.  Technology changes the usefulness of VHS and cassette tapes.  But even if we do ever have the resources for ipads and Kindles, I’m also holding onto many of the treasures I found that will never lose value.  And look out Pilgrim Presbyterian people; I’m going to be looking for your hands to put them in. My Inspiration:
Miss Loon is our librarian, She hides behind the shelves, And often cries out. “Louder!” When we’re reading to ourselves.
(Hooray for Diffendoofer Day!, Dr. Suess, Jack Prelutsky & Lane Smith)