Supporting church libraries (and the people who love them) for 50 years

Celebrate church libraries and meet the people called to the ministry of offering church libraries in and for their congregations.

In 1967, a group of church librarians met at Pacific Lutheran University (PLU), just south of Tacoma, Washington, to form a new organization, which they named the Pacific Northwest Association of Church Libraries (PNACL) The goal of the organization is to maintain and promote church libraries.

On Friday, July 14, church librarians from all over Washington, Oregon and Idaho will be back on that campus to celebrate the 50th anniversary of PNACL’s founding.  They will attend the 50th annual two-day conference, which this year is hosted by the South Puget Sound Chapter of PNACL.  The South Puget Sound chapter has members in the Tacoma and Olympia areas and meets six times during the year.

Despite the media’s claims that most people no longer read print books, church libraries continue to flourish. PNACL currently has 137 members. Most of those church librarians are in seven PNACL chapters in the three states, but there are a few at-large members. PNACL supports its members with quarterly newsletters, book reviews, books and other materials, a list of authors available for speaking events, and help for congregations that are interested in starting or weeding out books to restart an old church library.

Many church libraries are hidden away in a basement. They acquire books by donation and are usually supported by volunteer librarians who are called to the church library ministry. Dee Hoff, a member for 27 years, believes that working together as a network helps churches manage their libraries more effectively. The PNACL has developed interesting ways to promote church libraries, such as summer reading programs, book discussion groups, and supporting other ministries of the church. Roberta Larson, a past President of PNACL, also believes church libraries offer support to people who attend church but don’t particularly want to join the church itself. They are able to check out books to help them explore their faith or provide inspirational stories to help them through difficult times.

Speakers at the conference will discuss such topics as library technology, funding of libraries and library promotion.

Several long time members will be in attendance to share their memories of early days, including first-hand accounts from a couple of ladies who were at the first conference.

Authors will be on hand to discuss their books and participate in an “author shuffle” so conference goers have some individual time to talk to authors.  You can get a preview of some of the authors by visiting their websites:

Elizabeth Lonseth, who has written two memory care booklets, also will be one of the conference speakers.  Her topic will be Dementia & Alzheimer’s Care Resources.

Conference registration costs $175, which includes two days of presentations and activities, overnight accommodations, three meals and refreshments. For further information, go to the website or contact: Dee Hoff, 253-582-7328 or Cheryl Addams, 360-918-8950.

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