Library project

St. Mary

And Archangel Michael

Coptic Orthodox Church

Oviedo, Florida, USA

The Library Project



A Library in the current sense is not merely a place to read, listen to audio, or borrow either material to use at home and then return it back, but rather a media center where “members can enjoy a learning process via, different media and lectures in various fields which benefit the community. Many resources are not in public domain and are not yet on line.

Therefore the Library will ideally have

    1. Valuable books in various fields, spiritual, dogmatic, social and scientific. Some books may be so valuable that they shall not be allowed for outside borrowing (will be labeled as references).
    2. Audio books and videos suitable for learning and entertainment. This will encourage people who are reluctant to pay for buying a religious movie to watch one time and discard, instead they can borrow the movie, watch it and return it and then borrow a different one.
    3. All items should be available in English as the target generation (and future generations) is basically speaking English. Arabic books are also useful especially that some very precious Arabic books have not been translated yet and there is still a large segment of the congregation that cannot speak fluent English yet.
    4. Emphasis needs to be on Apologetics and Church History (History encompasses Patrology, Scripture, Doctrine etc.) without ignoring social and psychological material which addresses family structure and problem solving.
  • the Library should eventually provide lectures on various services e.g. Computer literacy, teaching people how to use the various applications (priceless for job seekers, and parents watching their children activities) as well as English as a second language (ESL) .. in all cases having the books and materials to back up these activities…which should pay for themselves.

Administration :

No one person can handle this project. This is a team work and the Library once it starts MUST be open and available at least during ALL hours of service in the church. A special box must be placed in a clear place near the library for dropping items (with their own receipts attached) outside of the library hours.

The idea is to encourage all members of the community to participate .. nevertheless, making the membership free has failed every time it was tried. Thus, it is recommended to have membership cards and registration in a computer data sheet on the administrative computer of the Library .. keeping track of all traffic of books and members. The recommended membership would be $20/year. Where frequent delinquents (regardless of rank or position) can be fined and/ or suspended. Such system will allow the Library to be gradually self sustained and even expand. { during my service in the Library I and all the team of Librarians, all servants and priests of the church .. we all had to fill the same applications and registration and paid the same membership like everybody else. We had a private arrangement for VERY poor families to have a reduced membership, again because free never works}

*** when someone donated valuable materials to the Library in excess of $100 they received a one year free membership and were still subject to all other stipulations. Although many of those donors insisted to pay for their memberships like everyone else.


This depends on the vision of the founders, however if you choose to start small, you must be prepared to expand with a smart plan because such project once it gets off the ground, it shall be inevitable to get bigger almost every year. A suggested small plan is presented here as an example. However, innovative ideas must be employed to maximize the use of all available resources.

1- Shelving : If the space where the library shall be used by other services/ meetings.. all shelves must have locked doors or if you choose to have open shelves then an overall screen must be installed to cover all the shelves outside of the hours of Library service. It may be possible to find USED shelves sold by a school or public library etc. which can be of great quality and much cheaper than new ones. However exhaustive shopping must be done in a very short time to find the best possible shelves at the cheapest possible price. I am inserting 3 pictures of such shelving below (most new shelves will require assembly)

*** there shall be need for an administrative desk simple but secure to keep records, cash, forms and cards securely in. theft and abuse are common when objects are not secured unfortunately, so it is better to avoid the temptations.

2- Computers: ideally you start with one administrative computer pass worded for use by librarians only where the library software shall be installed. In addition you may have to have 2 more computers for members to use.

  1. A) it is recommended to use desktops (windows) so that nobody shall easily move these machines for use outside the library for whatever activities may come up. I noticed that almost all church computers are apple, which is most expensive and is not what most schools and organizations (for job seekers) use. The library software we have is for windows.
  2. B) once you start the lectures mentioned above you may need more units, (some basic computers now are real cheap) and you may suggest the people bring their own laptop during the lecture. **** keep in mind that these lectures shall themselves have to have registration and nominal fees. {again free never worked}
  3. C) donated or used computers might be welcome, but should not entail any credits or privileges.

3- Tables and Chairs : I believe chairs should not be a problem, however, personal experience proved that one large table IS NOT the ideal offering here. It is better to have smaller tables – portable – if possible fit to seat four people each. With the computers being placed where one person at a time can be at the key board.

4- Networking : whether the library would have its own network or be added to the church network is something to be left for the servant handling the church network considering all security and privacy issues.

5- Circulation : this means the system by which all items are dispensed to the members. It also has to follow a certain set of rules that apply to everyone unequivocally with no exception.

a- all items should be borrowed for I week renewable by email or in person.

b- book borrowing is free with membership (anybody can read inside the library even non members during set hours of service.) Audio books and videos can be borrowed for $1 per week.

c- fines must be levied for abuse. Suggested is first time $5 for failure to return item on time. Second time suspension of membership for 1 month. Third time is suspension of membership permanently (restoration would require Abouna’s approval)

d- damaged or lost items must be paid for by perpetrator or replaced by same.

e- items borrowed will be registered in the library software as well as two copy receipts (one copy will be placed marking the place of the item on the shelf and the second copy placed with item and returned with the same.. upon returning the item the two copies are matched, item returned to the shelf and the receipts stapled and archived (never destroy the receipts)

f- all items are originally labeled properly before use. If we have a servant who will be able to set up a laser labeling system, that would be great (fast and expensive relatively) if not, we can use manual labeling. The library software system available in the market would cost on average about $2000- $3000 with annual renewal of about $500. Yet we have a completely free software developed by a servant from St. Demianah church in Jacksonville, who customized the software to the needs of the church.


6- Accounting : Monies collected by the library must be promptly deposited in a separate bank account. All exchanges will use a money receipt book and a spread sheet created for daily and monthly activity. A credit card should be issued for purchases (most purchases will be on line) and when a professional is hired to do a certain job a check can be used for payment.

*** Loose money invite problems and temptations.


If you have any questions please feel free to let me know.

Thank you and may God bless all the service to the Glory of His Holy Name.