Monday, February 2, 2015

Moving a Library, Part 4

Before Christmas, I left off this saga with the library moved, but not unpacked. The challenge of operating this library has always been balancing its demands with family life, so obviously, the celebration of our Lord's birth with all its accompanying preparations took precedent for our time and attention next.

Unfortunately, when Emily came to begin the long and arduous process of unpacking boxes, putting books in order, and getting them arranged on the shelves, most of our family had been struck by influenza and were unable to lend a hand. Still, she managed to get the fiction section done before her family left for a 10 day vacation. (Farm families love the quiet month of January for making their get-away).

When she returned, and we were recovered, book unpacking got into full swing. Boys need action and constant exercise, so lifting, carrying, and hauling boxes from this place to that was a great activity for them. Putting the books in numerical order by their labels and checking each title against the database to ensure every book was accounted for was painfully slow work.

Meanwhile, my ever-serving husband was continuing to finish physical details - a little drywall here, a lot of paint there, hanging lights, stabilizing bookcases, and hauling empty boxes to the recycling center. Every load of cardboard marked progress and gave us heart to continue this monumental task the next time we could schedule a work day. Emily's nearly one-year-old baby got lots of practice cruising on his feet as he got around the library with boxes for support, not to mention, experimented in the new art of climbing. Little by little, the books filled the 50 bookcases, more floor space appeared, and order emerged. At last, three days before we were scheduled to reopen, the final book was lifted to its place. The good news was that there were two empty bookcases remaining. The less exciting news was Emily's parting request as she gathered baby and belongings together:

"Mom, if you have time in the next two days, could you work on shifting all the bookcases two to the right so we have more space for books in the front?"

No problem. That meant moving only about 12,000 books in my "spare" time. Nevertheless, the long-awaited day arrived. A new sign was hung on the entry door, the lights were on, and our first library patron arrived. In all, 19 families came in the next five hours returning about 1,500 books. They had willingly borrowed several boxes of books when we temporarily closed to tide them over the holiday and to help us in the move, but now we had to deal with another flood of books.

The response to the new location and library space was enthusiastic, and gratifying. It was good to be back to our normal responsibilities - guiding children to books, making suggestions to moms, and answering questions about reading and homeschooling. One of the helpful benefits of handling all our books so much is that our memories were refreshed about particular titles we had to offer, so the boy obsessed with electricity had new volumes to explore, the voracious series' reader had fresh authors to devour. Best of all, the more open floor plan allowed everyone to converse more easily and find places to stack their treasure.

None of the efforts outlined in these brief chronicles could have been accomplished without the immense generosity of our loyal library families. Many, many of them offered assistance with anything at all and were willing to do whatever we asked. One family came to help pack and returned during the unpacking to sit in front of a computer screen and tediously check off titles against the books. A fellow homeschool librarian from Rogersville, Tennessee drove up one day to put the picture books in order, people came out to pack the trucks, and unload them, others picked up or donated building supplies. Our gratitude knows no bounds and it goes without mentioning that we would not have been ready without their generous hearts and hands. Our thankfulness is indescribable.

I will forever cherish the many gifts of time and energy these friends have shown. One particular prize I will carry in my heart forever, and which will strengthen me in future discouraging moments ahead, is the comment one of our teen-aged boys made to his mother. She remarked to him after he returned home from helping us for nine grueling hours of moving nearly 400 boxes of books, bookcases, tables and chairs, "I can't believe you would spend a Saturday doing that for them." I understood her amazement; after all, my boys live here and it is a family ministry, but this boy plays sports, has friends to be with and things to do. "Of course I wanted to help the library, Mom, because
Living Books Library is such a huge part of my education."

Need anyone wonder why we have gone to all this trouble, or why we will continue to serve the families of this area as long as God allows?

For the joy of reading,



  1. Liz, it looks WONDERFUL all finished! I knew it would. So glad you're back in business and I know your patrons are.

    1. Thanks to you, Robin, and your expertise, as well as lots of moral
      support all along the journey.

  2. Liz, the library looks beautiful! I am both amazed and grateful for all the work you do. And clearly I'm not alone: that last paragraph gave me chills! Someday, I hope to see your library in person. In the meantime, I'm heading over to the book sale :) Thank you thank you thank you for sharing your love of books with others.

    A friend who is a college professor in the Midwest emailed me today in response to my blog post listing the books I read last year (your books-in-2014 post inspired me to compile my own list). She said she had asked her undergrads if they ever re-read books. No. Parts of books? One (Congolese) student said she re-read parts of the Bible. The rest shook their heads. The consensus among them was that they "didn't really like reading."

    I tell you this not to depress you (though it depressed me), but to point out just how important the work you are doing is. You and Emily are giving your kids and the kids who visit your library an amazing gift: a love of books and words and reading. That's not a gift everyone receives. What you are doing matters, immensely.

    May God continue to bless you and your library.

    With gratitude,

    1. Kimberlee,

      Thank you for taking time to give such encouraging feedback. Your professor friend shares a common tale of woe, which is one frequently related to me by others about the "depressing" state of the culture. If each of us who is alarmed by these things does our part, the light will shine in the darkness and not be put out. I am thankful to have this work and to know others are revealing truth and encouraging a love for books too in many other corners. We book lovers and storytellers are not alone, and I pray will not grow weary in well doing so the next generation will tell a different story.


  3. Replies
    1. Thank you. Emily is the genius who has never learned to say, "it can't be done," and who knows how to make something amazing out of few