Recently I have taken to enjoying my Ward Library, which seems to be one of the best kept secrets in the church. No, Iâ€™m not talking about the old film strip projectors and film strips it still has failed to throw away, nor am I talking about the 100 or so vhs tapes with conference reports on them that will probably never ever be watched. Iâ€™m not even talking about the flannel boards and the flannel cutouts of Nephi, Jesus, and Mary Field Smith, all ready and waiting to make any primary lesson 10 times better.
Iâ€™m talking about books. Ones that you can check out and take home and read. (not just the torn up scriptures that the YM and YW check out for SS because their teacher makes them) My Ward Library has some interesting Gems in it. Here are a few:
Emma Smith, Mormon Enigma- Itâ€™s considered by some to be the greatest biography of Emma ever written. To me, it is the only full length study truly dedicated to Emma Iâ€™ve ever seen. It does assume Emmaâ€™s thoughts and feelings at times, but it is a very compelling book, once you get past the boring genealogy at the beginning.
Mountain Meadows Massacre, by Juanita Brooks- While the history in this book has been updated in other volumes, this is a milestone in Mormon Historical writing. I consider it like Babe Ruthâ€™s Home Run record. Hank may have broken the record, but no one is going to forget the Babe.
Recreational Singing- This book published by the church in 1949 is the only songbook Iâ€™ve seen by the church to include pieces from Gilbert and Sullivan. This book is definitely now in my top 10 favorite books published by the church. I donâ€™t have it in front of me, but itâ€™s introduction is astonishingly prophetic in itâ€™s discussion of group singing, and I will always treasure that it says that negro spirituals are the miracle of modern music. (not a miracle, but the miracle)
It’s You and Me Lord by Alan Cherry- This is a book by a black man discussing being a faithful latter-day saint before the priesthood ban was even over.
This last book gets me to the problem- The newest book dealing with the priesthood ban in my Ward Library was the one by Alan Cherry. Juanita Brooks was the only book on mountain Meadows Massacre, and itâ€™s 57 years old. Recreational Singing was the only music in the library I could find besides the Hymn Book (or the old hymn books) or the Primary Song Book. Og Mandinoâ€™s â€œThe Choiceâ€ was the only book in the library by a non-member.
I think we need to update our ward libraries, and I think we need to revitalize our ward libraries. First, we need to advertise that they are there and available, second we need to get books in there that are current and up to date.
Here are some suggestions of things that should be in the Ward Library:
The Peace giver by James Farrel
Rough Stone Rolling by Richard Bushman
The Mormon Experience in America by Terryl Givens
A collection of Music by Handel including the Hallelujah Chorus (at least!)*
How to Win Friends and Influence People or any other book teaching basic social skills (and then encourage ever YM and YW teacher to refer to this in their lessons to the youth)
A copy of PBSâ€™ â€œThe Mormonsâ€
A copy of Gospel Link
A subscription to BYU studies, at least
The Mormon Faith by Robert Millet
Now, to open for discussion
1. What Gems are in your ward library?
2. What books would you say â€œneedâ€ to be in a ward library?
3. Is this section of the ward library irrelevant and in need of being excised completely? Would it be better to have just one Stake Library? Does the internet make even that irrelevant?
4. What is the book on blacks and the priesthood which should be in the ward library?
*- It is in our stake library, I will admit.