Musings of a Theological Bibliophile, Part 4: Developing a Strategy
Erasmus – “When I have a little money, I buy books. If I have anything left over, I buy food and clothes!”
We have discussed library building from the standpoint of the first 1000 books that a minister ought to try to acquire as he prepares for a lifetime of preaching and teaching. It will take both time and money to acquire these tools but if one is to have a good working library at some point, strategic thinking is in order. Last week we considered the categories of books we ought to be buying. I made the contention that pastor’s libraries are often lopsided because of a lack of careful planning. So I offer to my students ten tips for library building that will help you to have breadth as well as depth in your library. I will discuss these over the next several weeks.
1. Buy deliberately – The building of a 1000 volume library will not just happen, so start today and get serious. Many men will end up in places where available resources are lacking, and while we have the internet now and Amazon.com as well as a host of other book sites—new and used—you may not have the resources to invest in books. Buy them when you can, because there will be times when you cannot and be grateful you had the foresight to invest in your future ministry. Many are the times I pulled a book off the shelf that I had purchased years before and only at that later point in time did the reading of it or the use of it become important. I was glad I had the book at hand. Moreover, buy on purpose, not simply because the price may be good or the topic a passing fancy. Know where you are headed and deliberately set out to get there!
2. Buy systematically – There are many ways to do this but the point is to have a plan and work it constantly. One good tip is to have a wish list of books you hope to acquire soon. As I read, I add books to the list and eventually drop some off. Over time, a book that seemed to me to be an important future buy, held less attraction at a later date. That saved me the regret of looking back and asking “Why did I buy that?” Pick an area of library weakness and plan to get 10-20 books to fill in the section. Then hunt for those books and when you get a little money, buy one or five!
In the next post I will talk about two more tips. Note that I am travelling for three weeks and may not be able to blog consistently. But I will get back to this soon if I cannot post next week!