The Church Library Ministry
"Our goal is to provide information, inspiration and motivation to help people grow spiritually so they can reach out actively" [2014]

Friday, December 6, 2013

A BOOK STOP: Community Library Outreach

The Church Library Ministry at Wesley UMC, Oklahoma City, plans to pilot test a ministry outreach in its urban setting in 2014 by placing a  BOOK STOP: Book Swap Library Box, on its property. 
The box will offer books on many levels and subjects and will encourage reading and returning to read more. Each book will have bookmarks or stickers inviting people to join the church or attend an event.  The name and contact info on the church will be prominently displayed and even a space for prayer requests!
A simple take a book - leave a book procedure, such informal and mini libraries have been popping up around the world.  A simple way to encourage reading, providing information, and improving the quality of life for a wide range of community members.  
It will be a pilot program to support lifelong learning and literacy, raise awareness of Wesley among its neighbors, provide books to inspire and enjoy,  encourage interaction and develop relationships between the church and its community.
The library ministry will also be exploring other ministry outlets to encourage, inspire and motivate people.

Read more about such projects here:

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Literacy & the Church Library

In the United States, the problems of illiteracy are more widespread than many know.  Information from the National Center for Educational Statistics indicates since 1993 the picture of adult literacy has not improved significantly.   Some 11 million possess only “basic” literacy skills.  That breaks down to roughly one in every four people who cannot function beyond a fourth grade literacy level.    

“Literacy” involves more than just ability in reading a book or newspaper. It involves several key skill clusters including ability to use and interpret in several broad categories. The concept spans the simple decoding of job applications or forms, to understanding instructions, and interpreting cultural references and problems in this area have a heavy impact on all of society.  

These literacy components include:
1)  Information-Media Literacy addresses the recognition of information need, knowledge of where that need can be met, skill in accessing information,  ability to critically evaluate information and then ethically apply once located.  
 2) Computer Literacy responds to the practical need for fundamental skills of computer use in contemporary society where more of daily life requires basic knowledge of computers, of keyboarding and basic function skills related to the use of the computer.
 3) Technological-digital Literacy addresses appropriate and ethical understanding of use and application to current and future needs of these tools.  This encompasses use for learning, communication, employment, and entertainment.  
4) Cultural  Literacy addresses the symbols, idioms, allusions, references, and illustrations used daily in society based on common literary, historic, and social models.  Shared understanding  (of books, movies, television, history, politics, music, fads, social customs, language, etc.)  facilitates individual learning and provides skills for many settings. 

Any segments of the population experiencing difficulties in these areas  translates into increased instances of poverty because better paying jobs are often beyond their reach. They can result in higher instances of crime and incarceration as some research suggests a definite correlation between illiteracy and incarceration.   
Inability to understand written or verbal communication can raise important issues of safety and healthcare.  Inability to understand safety instructions, signs, or symbols endangers the worker and the workplace.  Inability to understand written medical information, prescriptions and dosages has inherent danger to the individual, their coworkers and their family.

Combined these can all translate into higher costs to the whole society as systems and programs are required to address the situations or issues related to the lack.  The absence of these crucial skill sets generate problems that echo throughout society.  A very old rhyme illustrates the significance of attending to the small and seemingly unimportant item: 

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the message was lost.
For want of a message the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

The nail can be described as Adult literacy and  left unattended it creates disaster but when dealt with it means the world. 

Adult learners seeking to improve their literacy skills can face many challenges. Time constraints, motivation, lack of supportive networks, self-defeating behaviors or negative attitudes are among the most prevalent of challenges facing any adult learner and especially the adult seeking to improve their literacy skills. 
Some of the issues are common to any student but some are unique or highlighted in the lives of adult learners.    Time management skills are easily learned but it takes practice and discipline to apply them in real life.  

Adults are often busy with families and work making it difficult to apply themselves to achieve successfully.    Working, raising children, being a wife or husband, and perhaps even caring for extended family members the life of the adult learner can be extremely hectic and a constant round of crisis points. They can become easily overwhelmed and find it easier to give up than to focus on the goal of the own education.  They often have so much they are balancing in just surviving, that they need help to learn to balance life to achieve more. 

They may lack a strong supportive network of family or peers who contribute to their success or they may engage in behaviors or attitudes that sabotage their achievement.      Without positive motivation from the family, community, or teacher, the student can give in to feelings of self-doubt, haunting fears of their past failures are resurrected, or their own deep-seated lack of confidence to achieve takes over.  It can be easy for people to give into defeat; it can sometimes seem the easier road.  Every student faces these challenges from grade school through college. Parents, however, can prod children but for the adult learner, they may have no one to prod them, urge them, or nudge them when they are stuck.  

The dynamic within their family may actually work against them trying to succeed. Other in the circle of family or friends may be forced to evaluate their own life choices. Victims themselves of a cycle of limitation, feelings of jealousy, resentment, or self-doubt can surface to create tensions.  Faced with accusations of ‘being better’ than family or friends many students simply give in and stop trying. 

How can local communities groups face these challenges and help bridge the obstacles? How can the church library work with other agencies to stand in the gap for these learners?  ‘Know the student’ is the rubric an educator should use when helping any student.  Know their needs, instruct based on the needs, evaluate the success of the instruction, and then revise or continue as needed.  Educators tackling the challenges of adult literacy are encouraged to apply standard skills of adequate advance preparation, flexibility, creativity, enthusiasm, tolerance, courage, positive attitudes and a desire to mentor successful behaviors in their students.  

Additionally, an awareness of individual learning styles encourages greater success through differentiating instruction. Many adults were students who had different learning needs that interfered with their initial success in school.  These under addressed needs hindered them from achieving at their optimum levels.  Identifying the visual, auditory, kinetic, logical, or other learning styles of a student help them to recognize strengths, adapt coping measures, and apply themselves to learning with new vigor.  This one step promotes greater engagement, achievement, and individualization based on student needs.  

Synthesis of real world and learning world is important to helping students achieve. General student skills prove valuable in mastering issues of time management, awareness, access and use of community resources supporting their lifelong learning goals.  They also serve as helpful information as the individual student replicates their learning experiences in the lives of family and friends.  Issues of time management, for instance, can be shared with the student along with practical tips for applying it to the real world.  The more practical based or referenced the skill, the easier the student will learn.

Using research based, standardized resources, such as the Just write! Guide from TEAL (Teaching Excellence in Adult Literacy) the educator can find clear helps to provide quality instruction and positive learning experiences. 

In addition, ongoing assessment of procedures and methods provides feedback to adjust and improve the education results in students. 

The greatest tool of the educator, in addressing the needs of the adult literacy learner, is to see them as people who have an obstacle in their path.  The educator becomes a mentor in helping the student birth the skills, processes, and strengths to move the obstacle from their path.   The task of the educator is to not to provide the student with fish but to teach the student how to fish and then release them to wade into the depths on their own. 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

New Program to Be Offered in Spring

A special training workshop will be offered at Wesley for all those interested in volunteering, working with children or refreshing their parent/grandparent/caregiver skills.  Watch for details as to date, time, and place.  It will be offered as part of a ministry orientation on Jan. 11 at the Church.

Friday, September 27, 2013

John Wesley's Thoughts on How To Read Scripture

Donated portrait at Wesley

If you desire to read the scripture in such a manner as may most effectually answer this end, would it not be advisable,
1. To set apart a little time, if you can, every morning and evening for that purpose?
2. At each time if you have leisure, to read a chapter out of the Old, and one out of the New Testament: if you cannot do this, to take a single chapter, or a part of one?
3. To read this with a single eye, to know the whole will of God, and a fixt resolution to do it? In order to know his will, you should,
4. Have a constant eye to the analogy of faith; the connexion and harmony there is between those grand, fundamental doctrines, Original Sin, Justification by Faith, the New Birth, Inward and Outward Holiness.
5. Serious and earnest prayer should be constantly used, before we consult the oracles of God, seeing "scripture can only be understood thro' the same Spirit whereby it was given." Our reading should likewise be closed with prayer, that what we read may be written on our hearts.
6. It might also be of use, if while we read, we were frequently to pause, and examine ourselves by what we read, both with regard to our hearts, and lives. This would furnish us with matter of praise, where we found God had enabled us to conform to his blessed will, and matter of humiliation and prayer, where we were conscious of having fallen short.
And whatever light you then receive, should be used to the uttermost, and that immediately. Let there be no delay. Whatever you resolve, begin to execute the first moment you can. So shall you find this word to be indeed the power of God unto present and eternal salvation.
John Wesley
Preface to Explanatory Notes upon the Old Testament
EDINBURGH, April 25, 1765.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Some Excellent Online Resources for Religion/Bible


Good source for statistics on religious organizations. Information derived from US Census, survey samples and self reporting of groups. 

American Religious Data Archive
Another statistical site to create maps and detailed reports down to zipcode level. 

https://www.barna.org (may require subscription for access to some material)
Articles, statistics, reports, etc. related to church, culture, statistics, and related topics.

A look at religion across many spectrums of belief; good source of different perspectives and fresh looks at old issues.

Over 100 resources for studying the Bible from commentaries and different versions. The Bible Gateway is a tool for reading and researching scripture online -- all in the language or translation of your choice! It provides advanced searching capabilities, which allow readers to find and compare particular passages in scripture based on keywords, phrases, or scripture reference. You can view a complete list of available Bible versions and translations. To access some of the Bible Gateway's other features (a Verse of the Day widget, Bible commentaries, audio Bibles, and more), use the navigation menu on the left.

Bibles in Your Language 
Would you like to read the Bible in your own language or find a Bible in the "heart language" of a friend? These pages can help you find a Bible in more than 250 languages. Some are free online and some are printed or audio Bibles you can buy.

Christian PDF books (free, downloadable)
Must have Adobe Reader; collection covers everything from Bible study to theology.

NT Gateway (Mark Goodacre)
A comprehensive directory of academic internet resources related to the New Testament. It is divided into several sub-directories and dozens of pages, each relating to a specific topic. Every link is annotated.

Old Testament College (Tabor College)
A comprehensive, annotated, academic directory of internet sites on the Old Testament for both scholars and Bible students.

Pew (Church Statistics and Religion)
The Pew Research Center’s Religion & Public Life Project, launched in 2001 as the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, seeks to promote a deeper understanding of issues at the intersection of religion and public affairs.

"A Website for Biblical Research". Their site mission: to host a digital library of Bible reference material that is(1)accurate, (2)thorough & (3)free.  It contains helps for the O.T.Hebrew, N.T. Greek, and has the Apocrypha, etc.

StudyLight has  Bible commentaries, encyclopedias, dictionaries, parallel Bibles, interlinear Bibles, and original language tools. 

Virtual Religion Index
This Virtual Religion Index is a tool which analyzes & highlights important content of religion-related websites to speed research. Hyperlinks are provided not only to homepages but to major directories & documents within. 

Wabash Center
A guide to a wide variety of electronic resources of interest to those who are involved in the study and practice of religion including syllabi, electronic texts, electronic journals, websites, bibliographies, listserv discussion groups, liturgies, reference resources, software, etc. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Children's Resources

A great resource for those working with children in Christian faith based settings. To anyone who has worked with children's work in church or groups there is a need for quality resources.
One good starting place is at Children's Ministry.

Free sample resources allow a leader to test various resources.  Thought provoking articles encourage skill building and continuing education among workers and staff. 

The site also links to youth and adult resources by the proven experts in ministry resources, GROUP.

Look for an up coming article on traditional childrens's books that lend themselves to faith based and values lessons. 
Need costumes for a pageant , party or event?  Here is a link to an easy pattern good for Old Testament to Nativity to Middle Ages themed events. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Children's Books: Picture Books With Purpose, Part 1 of a Series

"Children's Picture Books with Purpose" begins an annotated list of books with storylines supporting positive character development, issues of faith and values as well as moral development. 

 This list will be of interest to those who home school, those who teach in religious schools and programs, and to parents who are interested in addressing certain topics or issues. The focus is on books found easily in local school or public libary collections. Most can also be readily found for purchase, however, some may be harder to find and require the use of a local library. 

Many of these books are long standing classics and many have won awards for content, writing, or illustrations. Picture books, although designed for younger children, can be used up through middle school ages. The visual imagery and quality, coupled with excellent writing and story content can make them a good choice for short, impactful additions to lessons addressing the themes noted.

Title: The Rainbow Fish (1992)
Author: Marcus Phister, a Swiss author
Synopsis: A small fish is so proud of his unique looks he alienates the other fish and sets out to learn how to have friends. He discovers a valuable lesson. Many versions feature the addition of sparkling 'scales' to visually highlight how the fish stands out from his fellow fish.
Themes: Pride, Friendship, Sharing, Personal Sacrifice, Ego
Applications: discuss what might be the 'shiny scales' in life (nice clothes, electronic gadgets, trips, toys, food, house, cars, etc.). Explore the page where the fish shares his shining scales and how it brightens the entire page as a way to illustrate the influence of good deeds and kindness to others.
Links: Author page
Craft Idea:  Make a fish (Paper plate)
Teaching ActivityPhonemic Awareness ; Count the scales/fish for mathematical activity

---(c) Marilyn A. Hudson, MLIS, 2013

Computer Skills Checklist

The following check list is designed to gauge your basic level of computer skills to best determine what classes  or training sessions would be most helpful.    This will also allow the library to assess potential programs, classes, and resources helpful to its customers. Please check all skills that you have already mastered.

    Open files
    Save files
    Locate files
    Rename files
    Delete files
    Use find
    Save as a new format, and knowing when and how to use it
    Understand the implications of the file extensions and associations
    Use directory structures to organize documents

    Manage open windows
    Minimize or maximize, tile, or resize window
    Understand concept of active and inactive windows
    Access a specific application when several are open

    Page formatting
    Text formatting (font size, type, bold, italic, etc.)
    Pagination, headers, columns, and other features
    Use of tool bars, spell checking, print preview, search and replace
    Negotiating multiple open word-processing documents
    Naming and Saving a document
    Opening a document
    Cut, copy, and paste text or graphics from one document to another
    Importing text files
    Understand the use and meaning of file extensions (.doc, .txt, etc.)
    Create a professional appearing product

    Print preview
    Cancel or suspend a print job
    Print only specific pages

    Compose and address messages
    Add, open, and save attachments
    Print messages and attachments
    Manage folders
    Create personal address lists
    Send internet e-mails
    Change preferences and/or set up
    Use correct Netiquette procedures
    Create and send professional grade correspondence

    Figure out how much space a file or directory takes up
    Determine available free space on a drive: know what to do if a hard drive is full
    De-fragment you computer
    Check for viruses
    Zip/Unzip file

    Browse the web, starting with SCU homepage
    Read campus news groups (once established)
    Understand the difference between an Internet and an Intranet
    Apply standard evaluation criteria to web sites and their information
    Understand and use Boolean search strategies
    Can control pages printed from a web site
    Apply standard citation methods for information found on a website
    Understand the difference between a “web site”, a “database” and an “online database”.

    Open and create a simple slide
    Apply themed background or color to all slides
    Add text and graphic
    Manipulate text or graphic with animation
    Add dimensional aspects
    Add video clips
    Create professional appearing product

    Open and create a simple spreadsheet
    Add boxes, clip art, titles, word art
    Create simple invoices and forms
    Do simple summation of column figures
    Format columns for changing data (i.e., dates)
    Create a simple chart or graph
    Insert a chart into another document (Word or Powerpoint)
    Create professional appearing product

    Open and create a simple document
    Add graphics, change fonts, format, color
    Insert new elements (columns, graphics, etc.)

Basic Computer Technologies Literacy Guide Sheet

1.       A stable internet connection
      Test Your Skills :

2.       Basic skills in word processing, email use, presentation software, and spreadsheet applications.

A.      Word Processing (including basic skills to manage indents and spacing for paragraphs, headers and footers, page numbering)
Internet4Classrooms: Word
LearningElectric.com: MS Word

B.      Email (including basic skills to manage attachments, utilize etiquette, and forward mail)
How to Use email

C.      Presentation (skills in designing or outlining an oral presentation, use of graphics and fonts to enhance)
Internet4Classrooms: Powerpoint
LearningElectic.com: Powerpoint

D.      Spreadsheet (skills in design, construction, summing, and inserting into a document)
Internet4Classrooms: Excel Technology Tutorial http://www.internet4classrooms.com/on-line_excel.htm
LearningElectric.Com: Excel

Information Literacy and the Church: Propaganda and Scholarship

To be 'information literate' means a person knows they need information, knows where to begin their information search, can evaluate the quality of resources found and can apply selective criteria to determine the best possible resources found.   Watching the evening news, reading a book, scanning the headlines or listening to a speech all provide avenues to apply what is called 'media literacy' to the larger field of information literacy (the other literacy is called 'computer or technology literacy').
Indicators of Scholarship
Indicators of Propaganda
Describes the limit of data.
Uses excessive claims of certainty.
Presents accurate descriptions of alternative views.
Uses personal attacks and ridicule.
Presents data that is well-rounded.
Uses emotional appeals.
Encourages debate, discussion and criticism.
Distorts data unfavorable to preferred views.
Settles disputes by use of generally accepted criteria for evaluating data.
Suppresses contradictory views.
Looks for counter-examples.
Suppresses contradictory facts.
Uses language in agreed-on-ways.
Appeals to popular prejudices.
Uses up-to-date information.
Relies on suggestion or negative innuendo.
Admits own ignorance or lack of knowledge when necessary.
Devalues thought and critical appraisal.
Attempts to discuss general laws and principles.
Transforms words to suit aims.
Finds own field/area of investigation difficult and full of holes.
Magnifies or minimizes problems and suggested remedies.
Relies on critical thinking skills.
Presents information and views out-of context.
From Bodi, Sonia. "Scholarship or Propaganda: How Can Librarians Help Undergraduates Tell the Difference?" Journal of Academic Librarianship.21 (1995): 21-25.

Guide to Bible Study Resources

Introducing Bible Resources
A brief definition and list of some common titles for that type
May /may not be in the church library.

EXEGESIS is “to explain or interpret.”  A critical interpretation of a text or a portion of Biblical scripture involves exegesis and brings together your own reflection and thought with a thorough examination of a text in context (historical, linguistically, etc.).  The first step is to thoroughly read and understand the text and then to branch out to look at the history, word meanings, and other topics.


Concordances help to locate specific words or phrases in the Bible, to survey how many times a term is used and some provide additional helps in articles and indices.  

Strong’s Concordance
  • Corresponds to the King James Version
  • Identifies Strong’s numbers (every word was given a unique number and this number can be used in some other resources)
  • An “exhaustive” concordance – small words “the” are included.
Young’s Analytical Concordance of the Bible
  • Corresponds to the KJV
  • It has a simple dictionary of Greek & Hebrew words; pronunciation guide
  • Two articles on “The Canon of Scripture” may be useful
Nelson’s Complete Concordance to the Bible: Revised Standard Version
  • Cross references words and names
Word Study Concordance: a modern, improved, and enlarged version of both.

These works define the meaning of specific words in the Biblical resources and translations to provide grammatical forms, pronunciations, functions, etymologies, syntax, context in their original language, etc.

Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (TDNT), Kittel.
A listing of the meaning, roots, and contextual use of words in the Greek language in the N.T.  A working knowledge of Greek is needed.

Genesius’s Hebrew and Chaldee lexicon to the Old Testament: coded to Strongs….  Genesius.
Similar to the above – Hebrew essential.

Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament (EDNT)
This work is a guide to the forms, meaning, and usage the words in the Greek New Testament  (3rd ed. , or to the 23rd ed. Of the Nestle-Aland Novum Testament Graece.   Each heading supplies information as to the gender of common nouns, the transliteration of the word, and one or more English word translations.  The index is significant in this work for locating words.

Vine’s Vincent’s , Expository Dictionary of Bible Words ,Mounce’s complete expository dictionary of Old and New Testament words , etc.


Understanding the Bible. Harris 
An Introduction to the Bible. Hauer 
A survey of the Old Testament. Archer 

Dictionaries and encyclopedias are always the best way to get started in any research project.  These provide a quick overview of historical, cultural, archaeological, and theological topics.  Basic information about people, places, and events are quickly grasped and applied to your understanding and writing.

Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible
  • Stands as a major work of scholarship, though it is a bit dated and does not reflect the most recent archaeological discoveries.
  • Major Biblical words are given extensive treatment
 HarperCollins Bible Dictionary
  • Handy one-volume work summarizes recent scholarship
  • Emphasizes sociological & cultural interpretation
  • Avoids technical jargon and also does not give the original terms for the original Hebrew or Greek biblical words
  • Well illustrated
 Holman’s Bible Dictionary

Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary

Manners and Customs in the Bible

This type of resources provides many additional helps in understanding the context and history of a portion of scripture.   Maps, photos, articles may all contribute to understanding meaning.

Hammond’s Atlas of the Bible Lands
Intervarsity (IVP) Atlas of the Bible
Macmillan Bible Atlas
Baker’s Bible Atlas



Ancient Christian commentary on scripture [set] - A commentary series utilizing the writings of the Early Church period; useful for gaining appreciation or insight into how some of the earliest Christians understood the texts.

Expositor’s Commentary on the Bible [set] - A moderate work on the Bible using minimal Greek or Hebrew citations.

Word Biblical Commentary [set] - A more indepth commentary with discussions designed for the scholar and the lay individual.

Calvin’s Commentary [set] Does not include all texts of the Bible.


  • Search using “Bible. O.T. Judges” or “Bible. N.T. Matthew”