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GTU Voices - Where the Community Comes Alive

Where the Community Comes Alive

By Colyn Wohlmut

Libraries have always been places where communities come alive, and the GTU’s Flora Lamson Hewlett Library is a shining example of that. For me, it is the beating heart of the GTU;  the place where new scholarship is built upon that which came before; where old and new ideas come together to reveal fresh insights.

Libraries have always been places where communities come alive, and the GTU’s Flora Lamson Hewlett Library is a shining example of that. For me, it is the beating heart of the GTU;  the place where new scholarship is built upon that which came before; where old and new ideas come together to reveal fresh insights.

The annual GTU Library Book Sale is a wonderful opportunity to experience that lively community! This year’s book sale will be on Tuesday, October 8, from 10am to 3pm. We’ll have thousands of books—including plenty of titles in religion and theology, but also on an unusually large variety of other topics including children’s books, literature, and history. This event helps raise a small amount of money for the library but also brings together the entire GTU community for a day full of bibliographic fun.

The majority of books featured in our annual sale come from donations to the library. Former students, retiring faculty, and even local clergy often call to ask if we will accept their unwanted books—and we are grateful for these generous donations. In light of the upcoming sale, I thought it would be a good opportunity to let you know a little bit about what happens behind the scenes.

As the collection development librarian, my most important job is selecting books to support research, scholarship, learning and teaching at the GTU. When we receive book donations from friends and alumni of the GTU, many of the donated titles that fit within the scope of our collecting practices are already here! Of the approximately 3000 books given to us last year, only about 500 were added. This means most of the donated books end up in the sale.

Finding the selections that should be added to our collection means each donated book needs to be handled by someone who works at the library. A box with 25 books in it might take 30 minutes to go through. The interesting books will be identified and searched; the rest are placed on the sale pile. To put this in perspective, a snapshot from this year’s donations includes a moment where there were approximately 110 boxes of donated materials. Multiply that by 30 minutes and you get about 55 hours of staff time devoted to stuff that’s free!

Once a book is selected for inclusion in the collection, library staff make sure it gets a record in Grace, our library catalog. They will also place labels, stamps, security tape and a barcode on it. This means that, all told, from coming into the library to being put on the shelf, at least four people will interact with and spend time preparing that book for use by patrons. But those donations help to increase the collection here the largest theological library west of the Mississippi! And the wonderful books that we cannot add to our collection we make available to the GTU community at our annual sale.   

So when you come to the book sale on October 8, or whenever you wander in the library stacks, remember that every book you encounter received special attention and consideration by folks who want to make sure you have access to everything you need to succeed.

Join us for our annual GTU Library Book Sale on Tuesday, October 8, from 10 am to 3 pm, on the library patio at 2400 Ridge Rd, Berkeley.

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