A simple way to increase a Catholic presence at the library

Reader Chris Sparks writes:

I’ve pulled together a plan for making sure every public library network has a minimum of quality Catholic content by fundraising through parishes to buy and donate books. I’ve blogged the whole thing here.

It’s nothing complicated, and pretty easily done by people anywhere in the country. Part of the impetus is my own frustration with trying to find solid Catholic books at public libraries and knowing that most librarians don’t even know what they’re missing. Further, in this year of faith, I think we have a great opportunity to make it a lot easier for people to find the faith if we just, you know, hold some bake sales, fish fries, and pancake breakfasts. Also, we’re losing the culture wars. Lots of people still use their public libraries for research and reading for fun. If they run into unexpected riches at their public libraries, how many souls might we save? How many minds might be changed on abortion, the nature of marriage, the existence of natural law and objective morality, etc.?

I thought you might be interested in helping spread the word.

Seems like a good idea to me.

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  • I’m also a big fan of simply making purchase requests. 99% of all public libraries will give any book a fair hearing, and if it’s a newer one in particular, or one which is regarded as rather important yet older, often they’ll get it!

  • Nick R

    Once these books are donated, I think people need to make sure that they are used and kept on the shelves. From what I know of libraries they frequently get rid of books that aren’t checked out. (this is how my mom got thousands of cheap books when we were growing up). I’m also not sure libraries put all the donations they receive on the shelves, I’ll talk to some of my librarian friends and figure out how that works.

  • I thought you were going to say, “Go to the library.”

  • Amanda

    As a new librarian who has participated in the “weeding process” in two different libraries (one academic and one public), I definitely agree that the look and age of the book is important in the selection process when looking through donations and through the shelves when evaluating current holdings.

    As someone said above, if you want the books to be kept, encourage friends to occasionally use the books as well instead of buying a new copy. This circulation activity shows that it is a popular item.

    Also, libraries try to be balanced in their collections. If a great Catholic book comes into the collection, a book supporting other ideas will most likely be considered for purchased in order to be well-rounded.

    Just wanted to give my point of view 🙂 I love this idea!

  • Francisco da Cruz

    Specifically C. S. Lewis, he’s always a good place to start for theology.

  • Michelle

    The library system in my city will not put donated books into circulation. Any books that are donated are instead sold near the front entrance for fifty cents for paperbacks or a dollar for hardcover. Make sure to research your city’s donation policy. Our libraries don’t inform the public that this is where the donations go. I had to be transferred to several people to find out when I called. Our library has a group of people that browse catalogs every year and decide which books they will add to their collection. I’m not sure who’s in this group or how they decide but I would love to find out.