A church library provides a valuable resource for the congregation, with relevant, religious books that people can borrow. However, starting a new library for the church can intimidate the church board. Organizing logistics such as location, procedures and basic book classification takes time. Most church libraries use the Dewey Decimal System; however, the Library of Congress classification system is another option. Classification systems group books of the same topic together. You can also use a basic, alphabetical system. Decide what system is best for your church library, then follow these simple steps.
Decide whether to include audio and video materials in the library. Although these materials provide more choices for the congregation, they can cost more. Weigh the options.
Collect or buy the books. You can run a campaign or see whether the church budget has money for books. You can also ask for donations.
Divide books into fiction and non-fiction.
Alphabetize fiction books and non-fiction books separately.
Place fiction books on one section of shelves, non-fiction books on another section.
Limit the use of specialized reference books to inside the library, except for clergy and the church staff.
Hire a librarian or assign volunteers to staff the library for limited hours.
Choose a database or tracking system so that books don't become lost or checked out for too long.
Library of Congress
Decide whether you will include audio and video works in the library. Although these provide more the congregation more material, they can add to the cost.
Collect or buy the books. You can run a campaign or see if there is money in the church budget for books. You can also ask for donations.
Assign a Library of Congress number to each book. Each number is divided into four lines. The first two lines tell what the subject of the book is. Read the first line as letters, the second line as a whole number. The third line is usually the first initial of the author's last name, followed by a number. Read this line as a letter followed by a number with a decimal point. The fourth line is the book's publication date, which is read as a date. Books are ordered sequentially according to each line. For example, for the book "Uncensored War: The Media and Vietnam" by Daniel C. Hallin, the assigned call number is DS559.46 .H35 1986. The DS goes on the first line. The 559.46 goes on the second line and the .H35 goes on the third line. The publication date, 1986, is on the fourth line. The first two lines represent the category number, DS559.45, which stands for the Vietnamese Conflict. The letter H in the third line stands for the author's last name, and the number after it helps categorize the shelving order for books.
Restrict specialized reference books to use inside the library, except for clergy and staff members.
Assign volunteers to staff the library, or hire a librarian.
Choose a database or tracking system to keep books from being checked out for too long or lost.
Items you will need
- Library room
- Setting up books alphabetically is easier than using the Library of Congress system and can work well for smaller libraries.
- Some libraries separate paperback books from hardback books, some do not.
- Include a variety of reference books, such as "Strong's Concordance," "Vine's Topical Bible," commentaries, theological books, historical books, dictionaries, atlases and encyclopedias. A committee might need to make some of these decisions.
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