Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Church-to-library and Library-to-church conversions

Suddenly this week my newsreader was filled with a flurry of stories on libraries becoming churches as well as the more common church-becomes-library stories.  While I always find the stories about "former churches" a bit sad I'm glad to see here two stories that demonstrate some sensitivity to the building's former use.  It's also great to read about churches seeking to expand their ministry and service to the community.

Libraries becoming churches

In Wednesfield, England  St Thomas’ Church has leased the old Wednesfield Library on Church Street and work has already begun to convert the building into a new church and community centre for the town. Launched in the summer of 2011, the St Thomas’ Church and Centre appeal has already raised £112,000 to maintain the century-old church for future generations and to convert the old public library into a new church and community centre. Work on the old library is due for completion in Spring 2014 and it is hoped that it will house activities such as church events, youth groups, toddler groups, a senior citizens club and more.  (more
In Sanford, North Carolina a local church and gospel radio station  are in a "bidding war" for a former public library building.  According to the Sanford Herald, "The church submitted the most recent bid of $75,650 for the property valued at $120,000. Jonesboro Heights Baptist Church Administrator Richard Sistrunk said the church didn't intend to discuss its  plans for the 2600 square-foot library until the bidding process is over." Church documents  suggest that  the across-the-street facility would be suitable "for any number of the church’s ministries". (more)

Churches hosting libraries

Meanwhile back in England..
An ancient village church is now entering an exciting new phase with the opening of a mini community library. St Mary’s Church, Poltimore, just outside Exeter, will be opening a mini-library in its building and will also be celebrating the reprieve. With records dating back to 1259 the church, in the centre of the village was about to be closed because two longstanding churchwardens were retiring. However two new wardens stepped up to keep St Mary's "at the heart of the community where it belongs." The congregation of around 20 will continue to worship in the church. Villagers donated books and Devon County Library Service have lent books which it will regularly change and  a request service. With donated bookcases and rearraranged pews the library sits in a recess behind the organ. Volunteers will open the library on Saturday and Wednesday mornings and will be offering cups of tea.  (more)
Closer to (my) home... "When renovation begins at the Mercer Island library sometime early next year, a temporary location will open at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, mostly for picking up and dropping off books." (more)  According to King County Library System project manager Greg Smith, the library was looking for about 800 to 1,000 square feet to lease while the Island library was closed for 8 months of renovations.(more).

Out in Illinois..."With no public library district serving the Fox Mill area in Campton Hills, IL the Congregational United Church of Christ and Swing Set Preschool  hope to open a free community library by next spring. 
The library, which would be geared toward kids, would be housed in the church . The hope is to encourage a love of reading in children. Walmart  has awarded the project with a $1,500 grant that will be used toward items such as shelving units and a cataloging system. Organizers are looking to the community to help stock the library with reading material for children of varying ages. (more)

Recall also "Church steps in to save library"

Churches becoming libraries

At the University of St Andrews in Scotland, "Martyrs Kirk has been “preserved and re-fitted” by the University into a state-of-the art Research Library. The vacant church was purchased by the University from the Church of Scotland in the summer of 2012. The renovation took little over a year to complete.  “The design was achieved with great sensitivity to the church architecture and respect for the building’s former purpose and traditions,” the University Press Office stated. (more with photos)

In the Netherlands another church has become a bookstore. Most recetly in Zwolle, the 1466 Broerenkerk church was renovated this summer  to become Waanders Bookstore.
(more photos)

And in New York,  after 17 years a historic roadside marker was erected to commemorate the  transition of a Methodist church built in 1841 into The New Woodstock Free Library. (more with photo)

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