Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A Christian in the library? Let's hope so.

One of my fondest memories of being a librarian happened not at the library, but while visiting the church of a good friend.

There was a pulpit exchange that day, and so the Brother preaching did not know, intimately, everyone in the pews that Sunday morning. The message was on "Godly youth" and how to keep youth grounded in Christian life. It was mentioned that no Christian should be found alone in the a public library. I inwardly rolled my eyes, and remained stoic. What I did not anticipate was that immediately after the service, several of the men in the congregation confronted the poor guest Minister.

"What do you mean by saying that no Christian should be alone in a library?" they asked, with great concern.

"Well, a Christian YOUTH probably should not," he replied. Because, of course, the topic was on the youth.

"Oh," said the church members. "Well...someone make sure Monica knows he was talking about youth and not adults. We have a librarian visiting."

And so it is with great interest I address the rare and yet occasional concern that Christians have about the library.

As librarians, we want people to have access to information. That is all. We cannot control what people do with the information. It is very much like, say you were a carpenter, and someone hired you to build a building. You would go ahead and build it, and you may never know what the building will be used for. It could be used for something illegal, something immoral, something less than redeeming. Or it could end up being used for God's glory. There is no way you can control what will happen once you are done. It is very much the same for us, we can direct people to resources that can be helpful and good, but we rarely see the "end result".

There is also much opportunity to encourage good reading habits here, as well. Personally, I do not check-in and check-out books. That job belongs to another department, and it is none of my business what people borrow. We have a thriving Christian readership at our library, and I am glad to promote it.

In any collection of books, there will be things you both agree and disagree with in the content. I can even open a Christian Book catalog and find things I think are good and not so good, written well, or written poorly! At the end of the day- we just want people to be able to have access to information.

Here is a sampling of people who come to us for help:

-The woman dying of cancer and for whom the doctors have already tried everything. She wants information on alternative medicine because she has nothing left to lose.

- The woman seeking a book on how to forgive her husband after an affair.

- The young Spanish man wanting materials so he can learn better English.

- The caretaker and her disabled teenager looking for a recipe on how to make banana bread, because that is their special project today.

- The newly married wife, who has no idea what to make for dinner on a budget, both time and money-wise. (Oh wait, that's me!)

So, let's have a lively hope there is a Christian librarian in your library.

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