Tuesday, December 20, 2005

1920 What's in your public library?

When my husband first became a sole proprietor and began working in a home office, I checked out a number of business journals from the public library weekly for some time. It's not that they covered the architectural field, but there were many things we needed to become familiar with, taxes, insurance, small offices, etc., if not the economy in general.

I'd sort of gotten out of the library habit because the internet is so easy, and recently have gone back to checking out about 4 or 5 journals a week--not always the same titles, but maybe JAMA, or NEJM or Kiplinger's or Forbes. But I'm a shelf reader, and although I'd been aware that the public library isn't the place to find Christian material, I was a bit taken aback when I realized there was only one evangelical Christian magazine (Christianity Today), but there were 15 or 20 serial titles on films, entertainment, jazz and rock. Films were particularly overly represented in the collection.

So I went to the reference desk and asked, "Considering the make-up of the population of this community (aside: about as WASP-ish as you can get), don't you think having 20 serials on films and entertainment and only one on evangelical Christianity is a bit lopsided?" It just happened I was speaking to the person (librarian?) who did the serial selection. She seemed surprised (maybe no one has ever asked or noticed), and asked me if I wanted to make a suggestion for a title. "You mean you want me to do the research?" I asked. But she persisted and handed me a green card. I wasn't prepared with a list, ISSN, publisher, cost, etc. Silly me, I thought that's what the staff was suppose to do with all the resources on serials they have. So, the only one I could think of was "Moody Magazine," and since I hadn't seen one for sometime, I wasn't even sure of the title. I should have been a bit faster on my recall and recommended "Books and Culture," or "First Things." There are several non-denominational Christian magazines specifically for men or women or children, also.

If you are a Christian, what magazine titles (about the faith, but not about a denomination) would you suggest for a library serving a town of 50,000 where 70-80% of the population is most likely members of Protestant churches? Not everyone who lives here attends church here--many go up to large evangelical churches in Worthington, Grace Brethren or the Vineyard. Many go to city churches downtown, or churches in other suburbs.

So why are public libraries so unprepared to serve Christians, and perhaps more importantly, why are churches so unprepared to meet the gatekeepers of the culture in which they serve? You don't suppose I'm the first person in 40 years to ask, do you?


Cathy said...

How about the Christian Century?

Norma said...

Yes, it has Christian Century, which would be mainline, liberal Christian. Also had one Catholic and one Jewish serial.