During the Summer of 2013 I was asked to head up a project to reinstate the lending library of the Cambridge Institute of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The existing library had ceased to function as a lending library when the building it was located in burned down in 2009. When the church building was rebuilt several years later the books were put back on the shelves in what appeared to be order by height.
Because the library had been a circulating library once many of the books were already cataloged (using either the Dewey Decimal System or the LDS Church’s own version of Dewey). There was also a card catalog drawer full of cards (which were arranged vaguely by call number).
I and two other librarians worked together to rebuild this collection so that it could circulate once more. This was a wonderful learning experience. We utilized a number of volunteers to reorganize the books in call number order. We extensively weeded the collection and created an inventory. It is a small collection, less than a 1,000 items and so we kept things simple, we utilized a simple spreadsheet for a catalog, and manually check books in and out.
We also worked with the people who really are in charge of the library to develop policies and goals for the library.
One big challenge we faced was a lack of budget. This library has no budget at all, and so it was a real challenge to deal with the knowledge that the library won’t be getting any new books in the foreseeable future, even though there are large gaps in the collection.
We reopened in January 2014 and began circulating books. The library definitely suffers from a sever lack of PR and needs some serious advertising. Unfortunately our resources were stretched very thin at this point as both of my colleagues moved to other states and other projects. I continued to manage the library until I moved out of Boston in the summer of 2015. It was very much a labor of love, but our efforts taught us much about the mechanics of building and operating a library.