Encouraging circulation--how do you do it?

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Encouraging circulation--how do you do it?

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Sep 10, 2007, 12:48pm

MrsLee has raised a provocative topic in another thread--the problem of getting church libraries adequately used. Any suggestions?

Sep 13, 2007, 10:25am

See the "Where is Everybody" question for Misskate, who says she has made up bibilographies for Bible study and Sunday School groups, which has resulted in increased useage. I have started putting "New Acquisitions" in a place visible to most people coming to worship. I put them out (in something like a plastic potato bin with a sign) at worship time and return them to the library later. This has drawn a few people into the library and the new acquisitions are being checked out more frequently than before.

Oct 4, 2013, 5:09pm

We're just beginning to start our library. Had to wait until the new building was finished. This will be the first week in several years I've been able to do this, but I check with our pastor to find out what the topic of this Sunday's sermon is. I pull all the books related to that topic and set them out on a special table in the library. We have our deacon who does the announcements mention to the congregation that X number of titles related to today's topic are available for supplemental study and invite people to check them out after services. It worked before, and I'm hopeful it will work now.

In this technological age, we have to find all sorts of innovative ways to get people to use the library. I'm open to suggestions.

Mar 24, 2014, 9:56am

We have a special cart for new books, and also a bookcase where we display seasonal books, books/authors we are featuring, and new books (if we have too many for the cart). This helps somewhat. We also, at times, have the office staff include some slides with new book titles on the slide show that runs before and after the service.

Mar 24, 2014, 10:13am

This is a really good question. A number of years ago I started a library at the church I was attending but congregational interest in checking out books was not strong, and I have wondered what sets apart successful and well-used church libraries.

I would think that emphasizing new titles is important. Maybe also showcasing titles by denominational publishers, which may be difficult to find elsewhere? A magazine exchange was a popular idea, and also drew people into the library room.

And also finding ways to get the word out about new/relevant books, as others have suggested--through newsletters, announcements, slides, etc.

Jun 22, 2014, 8:41am

I have made table tent folders with some of the more interesting books in library and put them out on tables in our fellowship hall where we eat after church. Our priest has sent around blurbs to the congregation I have done, and I try to promote it with signs, word of mouth... I am a librarian at a local college, and find that like at the college, there are people in church for years who hardly knew there was a library, others who use it all the time!

Edited: Jul 15, 2015, 12:30pm

I like the idea of pastors or teachers being able to create bibliographies on sermon or study topics. Seems like the more tags for sorting the better in those cases.

Also the idea of putting the library link on the church web page.

We haven't started our project yet, so now is the time to learn for me!

Jul 15, 2015, 12:35pm

Our church library gets no use whatsoever, largely because it's tucked away complete. I've thought of a display…

Jul 25, 2015, 10:00am

Yes, we are thinking of display carts in the narthex/gathering room, too. Also creating bibliographies for the various Sunday School classes and Bible study groups.

We are going to try a flash-mob cataloguing event in the fall.

Jul 25, 2015, 1:18pm

Our circulation went up 400% in the last 4 years as we:
1. Moved from a locked, dedicated library to shelves lining our church's conference room, which is frequently used & not locked;
2. Did a survey asking what people wanted from their library;
3. Weeded several times;
4. Got much pickier about donated books and had a generous donor buy - mostly used - books from lists of recommended books;
5. Put more books on display w/in the bookcases. Books "fly" off our little display racks so now our goal is 20% open shelves for displayed books & we try to change those books monthly;
6. Try to display books that are mentioned in or are related to the homliy;
7. Our pastor started mentioning the library when he refers to a book in his homily (& we keep a list of what he's mentioned);
8. Displayed books topically/seasonally w/ colorful signs - fiction in summer etc
9. Stood outside library after services and spoke to people who slowed down as they walked by;
10. Got a lot more DVDs and made a DVD display rack;
11. Put a sign on main church bulletin board directing people to us;
12. Put our catalog on LT & tried to use good, accurate "tags" - this makes it easy to find the right books for people;
13. Linked LT catalog to parish web site, along with explanation of how to use LT;
14. Posted QR code for our LT catalog in library;
15. Had annual book sales of what we weeded. These make us money & give us good exposure;
16. Started "tidying" the books a couple of times a week;
17. Got more volunteers helping people find books after church services.

Everything listed helped but exposure and looking "cared for" seem most important. The various displays are probably most helpful.

A nearby church has about 3000 very good books in their library, which was on ResourceMate, but they only had 12 books checked out in 2013 (last year it was about 50). Their library is a 5 minute walk from anywhere anybody goes and in a dark basement. They've tried book carts in high traffic areas but that didn't help circulation. They are a wealthy parish and we suspect their people just buy books if they want to read rather than borrowing. They get a lot of wonderful donations, which supports that 'buy rather than borrow' idea.

Jul 25, 2015, 1:32pm

These are great ideas, thank you, St_JosephIssaquah! I am thinking we should ask for donations, too, before we even have our Flash-cataloging event.

Our music director really wants his music catalogued to be able to pick things for certain types of voices. That will be used and useful, but only for him.

Edited: Aug 1, 2015, 6:03pm

To: St Joseph Issaquah:
I like all your ideas but would like more information on these two items you mentioned: "13. Linked LT catalog to parish web site, along with explanation of how to use LT;
14. Posted QR code for our LT catalog in library."

I would very much like to see your explanation of how to use LT. Also, what does QR code stand for?

Aug 6, 2015, 1:17pm


You can see our explanation about using LT on our profile page here:

QR = Quick Response. It's a bit like a bar code. QR codes are square, black and white blobby symbols that you often see in store or restaurant windows. People with smart phones can scan a QR code, which takes them directly to a web site - without having to type anything. The tech savvy husband of one of our librarians linked our LT "All Collections" catalog page to a QR code.

There are free QR Code generators available online. You enter the URL address you want linked and the generator spits out a code for you, which you print and post. (An example of a URL address is: http://www.librarything.com/profile/StJosephIssaquah)