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Christian librarians

June 2014 | by Graham Hedges

Saturday 5 April marked the official re-launch of the Librarians’ Christian Fellowship as the Christians in Library and Information Services (CLIS).

At a conference entitled ‘Moving forward’, held in the Hughes Parry Hall, in Cartwright Gardens, London, the guest speakers were Dr Neil Hudson and Dr Peter Brierley.

Dr Hudson, director of the Imagine project at the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity, spoke on ‘Losing the plot but trusting the author’, while Dr Brierley, of Brierley Consultancy, spoke about ‘Resources for making better decisions’.

Dr Hudson began with a tribute to the importance of libraries. He noted that, in an age of church decline, cathedral attendances in the UK are flourishing — people are drawn to mystery and grandeur. Despite library closures and cutbacks, large libraries like the new central libraries in Birmingham and Manchester are attracting large numbers.

We need libraries in order to think, reflect and engage. We are foolish to ignore stories; all our small stories are part of the bigger story of life and all are part of God’s story. The contexts of life continue to change, presenting opportunities for Christian discipleship, but we can change the culture through the small stories of our own lives.

Trends

Dr Brierley, a respected authority on church statistics, highlighted the importance of reliable information in any field of endeavour and identified some key trends in church and society.

These include the decline of the church in numbers and influence; the sexualisation of society; the impact of technology, especially on the young; significant generational differences; the crumbling of Christian heritage and increasing number of older people.

Despite his sobering analysis, he concluded that the Christian message was critical and always relevant for the future.

The conference also marked the election of the organisation’s first ‘non-librarian’ president, in Eddie Olliffe, former head of the Wesley Owen chain of bookshops. Originally founded in 1976, CLIS is an association of Christians from different denominations and a variety of library and information backgrounds.

Members consider professional issues from the standpoint of the Christian faith and provide a Christian voice within their professions. There are opportunities for members to make their training and professional skills available to Christian organisations running libraries.

Activities include conferences and lectures, visits, e-mail newsletters and a quarterly journal called the Christian librarian (further details at

www.christianlis.org.uk).

Graham Hedges

 

 

 

 

 

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