A Conversation about Meetinghouse Libraries
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“A Conversation about Meetinghouse Libraries,” Ensign, Jan. 1989, 78

A Conversation about Meetinghouse Libraries

Meetinghouse libraries offer a wide variety of resources for individual members, families, and leaders.

To find out more about what they offer, the Ensign spoke with Jack Pickrell, Church coordinator of meetinghouse libraries.

Q.: Could you explain the purpose of meetinghouse libraries?

A.: The library is an instructional resource for teachers, families, and leaders.

Q.: Teachers may be using library materials every Sunday. But how can these resources be of use to others?

A.: Members can borrow instructional materials and equipment for use in family home evening, in preparing a talk, or in giving a lesson.

The Church has made a wide range of instructional materials available for church and home use, including beautiful productions like Where Jesus Walked and videos of Church leaders giving counsel in general conference and in fireside broadcasts.

Q.: How can members who aren’t called as teachers know what is available?

A.: Many librarians have open houses or conduct tours to show individual members what is available and how to check it out. Some librarians also prepare an inventory and make a copy available to each family.

The library should be available to full-time missionaries and stake missionaries, who follow the same check-out procedures as any other member.

Members really fund the libraries, since the library budget comes from budgets of the units that share the building. The meeting house librarian sees that the library is stocked and equipped so that it can serve all the members.

Q.: What items are stocked in the library?

A.: The meetinghouse librarian is concerned with three categories of items. First is equipment. In a new building, the equipment is ordered while the building is still under construction. In an existing building, the librarian orders new items from time to time through the Church Buying Guide in order to upgrade or replace equipment.

Second is instructional material—pictures, posters, charts, filmstrips, maps, videocassettes, and similar items listed in lesson manuals. A publication titled A Listing of Instructional Materials Called for in the 1989 Courses of Study lists all of these resources by course number and lesson number. Any additional materials purchased to enhance lessons should be Church-approved items available through the distribution centers, rather than commercially produced items. The potential exists for copyright violations when commercially produced materials are used.

The third category of materials in the library is supplies like chalk and mimeograph paper. These can be purchased locally or through Church distribution centers.

Q.: What about books?

A.: The Church participates in paying for library equipment, but the materials and supplies, including books, are funded by local units. The Church provides guidelines on categories of books that might be purchased.

It is recommended that issues of the Ensign, the New Era, the Friend, and the Church News for the past ten years be included in meetinghouse libraries, as well as the periodical indexes to these Church publications. Each issue of the Bulletin, sent by the Church to local leaders, should also be available in the library.

Q.: How is the meetinghouse library governed?

A.: A library board, consisting of the bishops of the wards using the building, governs the library. The agent bishop serves as chairman. If the library serves the stake center, then the board includes the stake president. He may appoint one of the bishops as chairman.

Each library has a meetinghouse librarian, who directs the overall operation of the library. The library should also have an associate librarian from each ward, and as many assistant librarians from each ward as needed.

These librarians need to be trained. Training is the primary responsibility of the stake director of libraries.

Q.: It appears that each meetinghouse library is meant to be an independent unit.

A.: That’s correct. Distances between buildings and the needs of a constantly growing Church population make this autonomy necessary. Materials from one library might be made available to members from other units in the stake, but each library should basically stand on its own and provide materials and equipment needed by the people who meet in the building.

Jack Pickrell, coordinator of meetinghouse libraries for the Church. (Photo by Philip S. Shurtleff.)