This week I am taking advantage of a ghost writer as I share parts of an article titled "People of the Book," written by my son for his church newsletter. He is the pastor at the Community Presbyterian Church in Hartford, Iowa. Nathan's always been a library user and advocate, but it was a nice surprise to see his column. Of course, he was practically raised at the Cherokee Public Library in the days when I was the children's librarian. So I quote....
"Over the years I have become a library joiner. Having two or three library cards in my pocket is par for the course. Letting me loose in a library can be like letting a bull loose in a china shop, but it is fine if I check out far more books than I can possibly read. I can always return them and remember them for later. Thus my "retail therapy" needs are filled!
Now why am I talking about libraries? My purpose is two-fold. First and foremost I believe the public library is a valuable institution worthy of our support. I say both this as a public citizen and a pastor. Unfortunately, many people don't see the need for libraries in the same way they see the need for law enforcement and road maintenance. Yet, libraries are among the most effective of all public services, serving more than 2/3 of the public with less than 2 percent of all tax dollars. Libraries are great information equalizers -- the only place where people of all ages and backgrounds can find and freely use such a diversity of resources. More than that, studies show that for 82% of the rural population, libraries are the only source of free internet and computer usage.
Second, most church goers fail to realize how valuable public libraries are for their own use. While they may be faithful Bible readers, they are often at a loss as to where they can find additional resources to help them grow in the faith. Most libraries have a selection of Bibles, commentaries and dictionaries along with other Christian related books. This includes those of a devotional or spiritual nature. In recent years, libraries have also maintained collections of Christian fiction. Their variety of resources goes beyond best sellers or gift books. You can also find audio and video resources. Just ask a librarian to point you in the right direction.
Whether you are an avid reader or just a curious soul, I encourage you to take some time this summer to grab a good book. Take it with you to the lake or on a camping trip. Begin a summer full of spiritual exploration. Let us be people of The Book always looking to grow together in faith and understanding."
As a humorous postscript, Nathan recently found out the downside of using a public library when his dog chewed the corner off of a library book. However, $30 later, he still insists the library is one of the best values in town.