Books, not Souls

The library at Concordia the Reformer Seminary in Palmar Arriba looks a bit different than it did just shy of a year ago at this time (2/19/19 vs. 1/25/20).

After drastic renovations and months of back and forth, a container of books from Theological Book Network in Grand Rapids, MI, was unloaded into two waiting rooms in November. Now begins the arduous task of sorting through, cataloging, and shelving hundreds of boxes of new & used (think retired or late pastors' libraries) resources. 

Mere days after the Burches were the hosts with the mostest at Camp Concordia in their hometown of Banana Ranch, Belize, Markie Burch flew to the Dominican to give us a TWO WEEK jump start. She has a degree in library science AND experience in academic libraries in Latin America, which makes her our de facto library guru. In all seriousness, she's been able to lend wonderful insight on the project since its earliest stages. Given the fact that I worked in a public library in high school and college, she considers ME her right-hand woman. Eeeeeeeek! I thought I'd be spending most of her two weeks with her in Palmar, but all of a sudden it was the day before she flew out and I had yet to set foot in the library since the books had been delivered. I wisely made the snap decision to at least dip my toes in the water and was met with the below. 

If you know me at all, you know I don't work well with clutter. As I surveyed the room and my head started spinning, Markie assured me that the state of things was normal for a from scratch library and that the boxes contained libros, no almas (books, not souls). I slowly internalized my surroundings and realized that while the title formatting of all the volumes in a series may not match, students will soon have a functional space in which to study God's Word in at least two languages. 

I proceeded to spend the entire next day with Markie in the library, up until she literally had to leave for the airport. She's hardcore! Within minutes she could tell I was a strategic thinker, and we were able to trim a few redundant steps from the box > shelf process. 

What remains is a staggering amount of man-hours in order to finish cataloging, shelving and eventually labeling (for now, call numbers are being recorded on index cards) the stacks. 

It's time-consuming, tedious work, but repetitive and therapeutic in a way. A number of decisions will also need to be made regarding whether certain resources belong in the library, how many of others belong in the library, and how to catalog and display still others. I'm part of a library circle that's going to continue meeting weekly at least up until the seminary's 3rd annual theological symposium takes place in May, and I'd like to put in some man-hours of my own, although my day-to-day duties and travels keep me extremely busy. Courtney and I are doing what we can to coordinate and track those who are able to assist regularly, which may eventually include short-term individual volunteers. Thankfully, a few of the seminarians think Librarika is a video game (according to Markie) and have proven to be rock stars at it when they're not studying. 

Join me in thanking God that this long-awaited space will be functional soon, and for the many who have contributed sweat equity to getting it where it is today. Please also keep our regional Chaplain, Rev. Dr. Jonathan Naumann, in your prayers, as he adds Library Director to his already full plate. 

Until next time, blessings!