RAYTOWN – Librarians are matchmakers. Debbie Atwood, media director at Spring Valley Baptist Church in Raytown, quoted S.R. Ranganthan’s Five Laws of Library Science, “Books are for use,” she said. “Every reader has a book, and every book has its reader.”
“A library is only as valuable,” Atwood continued, “as the ability to find what’s in it.”
Atwood has 17 years of library experience and when she became the volunteer librarian at Spring Valley, she could see that it would take a lot of work to get the library into usable shape. But she was determined to make the library an asset for the church, and the transformation began.
“A usable library expands our church’s reach,” Atwood said. “We are able to find new ways to share the gospel and hope.”
“Our library flowed into two rooms, the card catalog had not been kept up-to-date and we had lots of books in boxes,” she said. “It looked like a Herculean task and seemed overwhelming.”
Atwood’s first step was what she called, “weeding.” “It can be tricky,” she said. “Many of the precious books were donated through the years, or they had a sentimental attachment to certain media.”
When the project began, Atwood displayed the materials that needed to be moved out and let the congregation take anything that they wanted. “I can’t throw out good books,” Atwood continued. “But we couldn’t keep everything. If no one claimed the items, we packed them for donation to Love Packages, a nonprofit that collects Christian literature to distribute for missions in other parts of the world. So all of the media is going to a good home.”
The next step for the library transformation was cataloging what was left. “I used several websites to help with this task,” Atwood said. “Many people are more technical and putting our catalog online makes our library more accessible. With COVID-19 restrictions, the catalog provides a safe way to browse for just the right book or movie.”
“We still have a lot of cataloging to do,” Atwood explained. “We started with the most popular authors and a lot of the multimedia. We also included a lot of the Bible study series that we have available.”
“My long-term goal,” Atwood continued, “is to encourage other churches to put their collections online. We have so many high-quality items that it would be wonderful to share with other churches. It gives us another way to share God’s Word.”
To assist other churches with transforming their library, Atwood is willing to zoom with librarians to consult about the process. “We want to get good books and great movies in the hands of people to read or to share with a child,” Atwood emphasized.
Atwood invited Missouri Baptists interested in revamping their church libraries to email her if they have questions: firstname.lastname@example.org.