Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Donating Books as a Spiritual Discipline?

We often receive book donations here at the Library, as do most libraries. Notably, in 2006 we've received donations from Dr. Knofel Staton, who retires this year, and from the estate of long-time employee Thelma Laster. We see a lot of great books but the book donations we receive are often in the same subject areas of Bible and ministry. Needless to say, that area is well stocked and many books are out-dated or in poor condition.

Recently we received a wonderful donation of books in the area of counseling. All three schools of HIU have popular programs in this area so the collection is well used. Mary Bermani (MFT, 1993) heard about Thelma's donation and it got her thinking.

As she went through the masters program here at Hope, Mary found the Library staff to be very helpful but she often ended up going to Cal State Fullerton for many of her book needs. “You do what you have to.” After graduating, Mary realized that she was free to study what she wanted – not because she had to write a paper but to satisfy her interest in learning. She ended up buying so many books—a passion shared by her husband—that her home was becoming overrun. Mary began to consider giving books to the Library but found that it was not a thing to be taken lightly. “Thelma was a dear, dear person to me,” Mary said. “I should give my books to the Library, but why wait until I die?”

Letting go of books has been a spiritual discipline for Mary. In fact, she went on a book buying fast for Lent three years in a row. Every time she would be tempted to buy books she would reflect on why she needed these books. “What is it about these books that help me to understand myself better”?

Mary reasoned with herself as she approached the idea of donating 700 of her books to the Darling Library. She gave herself permission to get a book again if she needed it. This has happened with one book since then. “Now I know why that book was important … and I can share it with other people.”

She told Sarah Kimakwa, Acquisitions Manager, that she felt a little funny giving some of her books to us because not all of them were Christian. Sarah explained that we need books written from various perspectives. Mary agreed, noting that she would buy a book because she needed to learn from it… even if it had a different perspective from her own. Sarah also explained that any donated books that we did not keep for our collection would be shared with others who could use them. That was okay with Mary.

Mary hopes that others will see the personal value in giving their books to the Library while they’re still of use. Besides the personal spiritual benefits she derived from her donation, like all donors, Mary receives a “gift-in-kind” receipt for tax purposes and a big thank-you!

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