Church Lending Libraries

Have you ever attended a church with a Lending Library with free books, and a notebook to fill in your details? Were those books old, dilapidated and dusty? Were there any for little kids, teenagers, or men? Who checked them for doctrinal perfection? And who took the initiative to throw away the torn ones, or who repaired them? It’s not an unimportant job to run a church Lending Library! And I wouldn’t suggest turning up at parishioners’ homes to search their bookshelves for any ‘permanently-borrowed’ ones!

They say, ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’, but without reading the whole volume, how else can we know if it’s any good? People do judge a book by its cover in a church lending library. The old ones are often left on the shelves, but they can be very wise and helpful. Modern books might look good, but they may rely on ‘promotional’ material to impress potential readers that they’re better than they really are!

Church librarians are usually women, and as you might have guessed, it’s one of my jobs in our church. It involves checking donations, reading books by little-known authors (Yay!), dusting the shelves, and taking some damaged ones home for my multi-talented husband to repair. I also follow-up the tardy-returners, but in a multicultural congregation like ours, I have difficulty deciphering many of the signatures. And people are often in a hurry, so I have to ask someone who the borrower is or what they look like.

I think it’s amazing that these dear people are so good at English when they speak more than one other language. I learnt Latin and French at school, but they’re useless to me now in our ‘etcetera-church!’ Of course, I don’t intend to denigrate anyone with the use of that odd term. I only mean African/Indian/Cambodian/and many more nationalities.¬†What a privilege to have so many lovely people who share our faith in God. I’m so glad I don’t have to read any foreign-language books! I’d need an assistant for that.

When I was a child I went with my mother when she arranged the flowers for the next Sunday’s church service. It was school-holiday time and even the kindergarten was closed. The building seemed so desolate that day without the congregation or any music. I wandered around and found the quiet vestry out the back. In there I noticed the old Lending Library. I doubt if the books had been dusted for years, let alone borrowed or read. They looked so boring to a young teenager! They made me sad.

Recently I read about a priest who rediscovered a precious book. He sent it to the king, who tore his clothes in anguish when he realised that he and his people had neglected it even though it contained all God’s instructions about the way his people should live. Long before, Moses, their great leader, had written it to prevent them from being carried away into captivity by their enemies.

It reminded me of another world-famous book that people leave on their bookshelf. It’s the only one that has the whole Truth that we need to know about death, life, and heaven. It tells us about our Saviour, Jesus Christ. We neglect it at our peril. It’s the Christian Bible. I hope you have one and that you read it. If not, maybe you can go to a church and borrow one. They’re sure to give it to you for free. You’ll never regret reading it. It’s full of God’s words, written for the whole world, but especially for you.

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