Friday, March 1, 2013

On not giving up meeting together

Library consultant Stephen Abram is a prolific blogger providing tips and techniques for strategic thinking and innovation in libraries. Three words from a recent post got me thinking:
Associations        Consortia        Collaboratives.
They form the core of one of Abram's "humble recommendation" to libraries and they are words that church librarians need to consider seriously to ensure the value of their ministry in changing times.

One of two great ideas from Hibbing ,MN
Associations are invaluable for the "professional development" of the librarian.  You may think of yourself as "just an amateur trying to keep the library running" but you are not alone and there are others who want to hear how you keep the library running at your church and share ideas how they do that at their church.  
Most associations have modest membership fees that pay for some of the many services they provide - newsletters, publications, conferences, discounts with vendors. Include those fees as part of your library's annual operating budget.  I've listed several regional and denominational associations on this site- including two Facebook groups - which don't cost anything to join.  
It's hard to beat the networking opportunities that come with membership in a structured group but there are other ways to connect with fellow congregational librarians. Mailing lists like LinC-List are a useful way to associate with church librarians. Join, then send out a query on a topic and wait for replies from other list members.  If you prefer low-tech/high contact/low-cost combinations perhaps your local Christian bookstore sponsors Librarian nights where you can shop (of course) but also meet colleagues in your community.

Consortia are sometimes describes as  a group of people or organizing together.  Consortia are common in public and academic libraries where various distinct libraries agree to share resources among members.  Library patrons at the academic library where I work can visit other academic libraries across Canada and borrow material through consortial agreements in place. Likewise my library lends material around the world through the InterLibrary Loan consortium we belong to.  Consortia  should  work for church libraries especially if there is already inter-church cooperation in the community - but I think they are pretty rare.

The Hibbing Church Library Network is, after Bob Dylan, the best thing to come out of Hibbing MN. A half-dozen churches share  nearly 5000 items with their community.  They recognized the wealth of materials in their church libraries and partnered with the public library  to catalog and share the material.

Even agreeing to rotate your collection and share your catalogue with another congregation down the street is a start that will bring rewards in the form of new materials and new contacts.

collaborative could be thought of as a group that experiments together - maybe it's the first step to a consortium? The 6 Texas churches that grouped together to launch ebook lending are good example of a collaborative - working together to try out something new, sharing costs, resources and rewards. 

There's probably another church librarian in your community (neighbourhood, denomination, parish...) that would be glad to see your library and show you hers-- and that could be the start of something good.
Hebrews  10: 23-25 
Let us hold fast to the profession of our faith without wavering (for He is faithful who promised),
 and let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another. 
How about you?  Use the comment box to tell how you connect to other church librarians and libraries.

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