I accepted a new calling in the last week. It came as a surprise and not a surprise at all.
A surprise because I’m well below the unstated age restriction to become a librarian in my ward, but that’s where I’m headed. The senior sisters that dole out the chalk and flannel board figures behind the counter in my ward are tops. They’re pithy and sweet and will get you copies in a jiffy. But I won’t be sharing their distributing authority with the supplies, that task may be beyond my privileges. I’ve been charged with something else entirely, a new task: stocking the shelves of the library and curating the wall art of the building.
Not a surprise because what I’ve been doing this in my own home library for ages now. I’ve tried to be a lending library to anyone to inquire and return my books. The goal for the church library, as I’ve been instructed, is to fill the shelves with books, both print and digital, that people want to check out and read, resources beyond the standard works, manuals, and gospel art kits. Think resources beyond the standard works, manuals, and gospel art kits, not just for lesson prep, but personal study. And then devise a way to maintain the supply by instituting a digital check out system (there are apps for this like Book Buddy).
This task of selecting and collecting books and art plays into so many of the loves and expertise I’ve grown in my time at Segullah. I can’t wait to start.
It will be a challenge to limit all the wish list books and art to the budget I’ll have. There are so many fantastic books that speak to the needs and wants of LDS people, things that you can’t get in a library in my neck of the woods. Maybe if you live in Utah you can find these sorts of books at your local library, but where I am (and I assume a lot of you reading) you are left to shell out for your own copies or borrow from a friend.
After speaking with the Bishop and Sunday School President, who created this role and shared their vision of it with me, I’m excited to collect books that offer information and diversity of voices that aren’t in the standard library resources. It’s entirely true that the shelves and walls of our buildings (mine and probably yours too) are filled with manuals, books, and art almost exclusively written by older Caucasian men. Even when they are good men and hold revered callings and have penned many inspired works, they can’t offer every needful thing to everyone. I love being able to read something from another perspective, it helps me learn.
So, I’m taking on the lines in D&C as my mantra,
118 And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.
I’ll be looking for “the best books:” scholarship on church history (particularly essay topics on LDS.org), resources for faith questions, sex from a healthy LDS perspective, and books that highlight the voices of women and a variety of ethnicities and experience.
Just a few of the books I’d love to see (several have already been nodded yes to.)
I don’t want to forget about the kids either- I’d love to stock a mini bookmobile wagon to wheel over for families with young children to check out a few before sacrament meeting and return at the end. Even if I can’t make a tiny cart, I can put them in the library.
I’m excited at the possibilities for books, and instituting a barcode scanning app to check out and track the books, so I can keep those good books tracked and returned for all to enjoy.
With all the forward motion to recognize and elevate diversity in Mormon art, I’m so delighted to introduce some new artists and hopefully a few new styles in my home church building.
As far as I know, this idea is novel and my calling is unique; I love it. I may not have time, budget, and final say to get all of my wants on the library shelves and wall, but I’m feeling called to give it a go. And I’m thrilled to hang out with the continuing library staff, they’re pretty awesome ladies. I can’t wait to set them up with a scanner to expand their library resources and authority. And maybe, just maybe, they’ll let have a turn passing out the chalk and crayons even though I’m still underage.
If you had a church library stocked with church-minded books you’d want to check out- what would you like to see? I’d love some suggestions.