The future of the Grogan Library

The future of the Grogan Library

Colin Wilson, SSCM Librarian

Let me begin on a tangent, giving yet another affirmation of the importance of libraries. In April, The New York Times published an editorial asking this question – guess where people spend at least some of their time in the city (of New York). For instance, what attractions draw the most visitors?

  • Major Museums, like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, American Museum of Natural History, Brooklyn Museum or Museum of the City of New York.
  • Libraries, including the neighbourhood branches and research centers.
  • Performing arts, like those at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, City Center and Snug Harbor.
  • Sports teams like the Yankees, Mets, Knicks, Nets, Rangers, Jets and Giants.
  • Natural-world attractions: the botanical gardens, Wave Hill, the zoos and aquariums.

The Yankees listed attendance as 3.4 million; the Mets, 2.14 million. At Madison Square Garden and the Barclays Center, the two basketball teams and the Rangers hockey team brought in 2.2 million. The two professional football teams in northern New Jersey drew 1.3 million. How about attendance at museums, live performances and zoos? The Mayor’s Office reported that 21 million New Yorkers and other visitors attended the 33 city-owned museums, performing arts centers, botanical gardens, zoos and historical sites.

But wait.

The city’s libraries had 37 million visitors in the last financial year.

So the city’s libraries have more users than major professional sports, performing arts, museums, gardens and zoos combined. No one who has set foot in a library – crowded at all hours with adults learning languages, using computers, borrowing books, hunting for jobs, or schoolchildren researching projects or discovering stories, or with older people or the homeless simply trying to keep warm – can mistake them for anything other than a social good, distributed without regard to wealth, creating human capital before the term was trendy. The problem in the UK is that they are not crowded at all hours. Perhaps a culture and funding change should be on the cards in the UK?

My blog posts are beginning to reveal the fact that I, am at heart, a public librarian. It is the belief in the value of public libraries that underpins my ambitions and aspirations for the future direction of the Grogan Library.

So, here’s what will be happening over the next year:

  • A review of the entire collection will be carried out, ensuring that it fits the ethos and future direction of the Scottish School of Christian Mission. Yes, the collection will be a bit smaller as a result, but its depth and breadth will remain.
  • We will look to find suitable and strategic ways of using the books that are withdrawn from the collection. SSCM staff are involved in assisting the development of theological colleges and libraries in Non-Western countries, and it is likely that some of our books will go to them.
  • The dissertation collection which covers work submitted to Lebanon Missionary Bible College, Northumbria Bible College, Bible Training Institute, Glasgow Bible College and International Christian College will be digitised and, where appropriate, made available through the online library catalogue.
  • The archive collection which covers the same institutions will also be fully digitised and made available in the same way.

As always, any suggestions, opinions or support/criticism can be emailed to the College Librarian.