Today I made a presentation to the Church Library Association. I had spoken with the president, Judy, some time ago with my ideas about the place church libraries could have. As the featured speaker for the fall meeting, I had a half hour for presentation, plus questions. I made the following points, which I invited them to consider as they look at their service population:
1. The Church Library is a special library (one of the four types of libraries). It occupies the same information center place in their parent organization as a library at Mayo Medical Center (sure to strike a chord here in the “Med City”).
2. The Church Library should have a mission, that expands on or fits into the mission of its church. The Church Library should also be part of the strategic plan of the church and be part of its budget. If it has no mission, no plan, and no budget, its existence is questionable.
3. The Church Library can occupy a special place in the neighborhood in which it resides by mimicing the typical programs of a public library: storytime, book clubs, popular fiction, internet connections, E-mail, homework helpers, or newspaper and magazine browsing areas.
4. The Church Library should not seek to compete with or replace the public library. It should seek to partner with the local public library and be yet another information access point. Church libraries can enhance the image of libraries to a mutually beneficial end for both the church library and the public library, since in the eyes of the public who use them, the positive image of a library anywhere leads to support of libraries everywhere. The Church Library can be open at complementing hours to the public library, during evenings of Christian Education or weekends.
5. The Church Library might seek to be an information center, offering its services to staff and members as a place to ask questions — even if the library serves as a conduit to the local public library, university library, or regional library.
6. The Church Library must have policies: collection development policy, gift policy, circulation policy — as a beginning.
7. The Church Library should seek to collect and disseminate information about the Minnesota Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. The church is in a unique position to know where those services would be useful and facilitate the process for application.