Lending library works against isolation

The Rev. Ingrid Schalk, Shepherd of the Lake Lutheran Church pastor, adds a book to the lending library shelf in the church office.

Two members of Shepherd of the Lake Lutheran Church have worked to try to make coronavirus isolation more bearable for the congregation by creating a small lending library inside the church office.

Elaine Nevin and Christine Elbert came up with the approach spurred by conversations of what could be a great idea. Nevin said it happened “all of a sudden.”

“Elaine and I kind of — I don’t even remember how it came up — but we had a bookshelf (in the church office), and there were a lot of books that had not been really organized,” Elbert said. “We organized the books, and then we have a small container that folks can donate books that they’ve read and they’ve loved. That was mostly what we were thinking.”

Nevin said the effort was a “low key” way to serve the church community.

“We know that there are lots of us that love to read and are reading,” Nevin said. “… I brought in a few books, too, predominately fiction, but there are other topics, too, like gardening or whatever. We just put it in the newsletter for anybody that was interested. They could drop a book off, pick a book up kind of a thing. You know what, if you pick up two and drop one off, or you didn’t drop one off, and you’re desperate, nobody’s going to pay any attention to what you do.”

The lending library isn’t intended as a “dumping place” for books but a place to share a few beloved books that may be special to others, Elbert said.

“It’s not a garage sale,” Elbert said. “It’s not donate your books to the library. It was more like, ‘I read this book. I loved it. Maybe someone else would, too’.”

Nevin said the small, informal lending library isn’t an attempt to compete with The Public Library at Tellico Village. She said some people may feel more comfortable coming to the church’s office to pick up a book because of COVID-19 and wanted to give them that option.

Because of the older age demographic of the congregation, Elbert said the lending library is a way to keep quarantined individuals occupied who don’t want to risk virus exposure.

“There are a number of folks who are not coming to church and are not getting out, and we just thought if perhaps they needed something to do, we could share books that we’ve read and loved, and they could either come to the church and pick them up, or we could even deliver them to them,” Elbert said. “… We have some folks who have had surgeries or whatever and haven’t been able to get out because of that, so that’s where we were thinking is just trying to get creative in ways to engage our congregation during this time.”

The Rev. Ingrid Schalk, church pastor, said efforts like the lending library are common in a congregation enthusiastic about helping.

“They get all excited about, ‘Can we do this?’ And I say, ‘Well, we need to find a way to do it safely,’ which early on I was hesitant to do this kind of project,” Schalk said. “But when the library opened, and they did their research, found out how the library is lending books and making it safe, then they got it started. They’re just really excited about it. It’s especially a way to help one another through this really long, long season of isolation when reading is one of the things a lot of folks are doing, that they can do. They want to share. The folks here are so generous, unselfish.”