Christian librarianship is not an oxymoron

8 01 2010

Ideally, our libraries and our profession should be inclusive — as is true Christianity.

Below is the “conclusion” to an essay entitled “A Rationale for Integrating Christian Faith and Librarianship” by Gregory A. Smith that I found quite interesting and well done on a subject that won’t be discussed in the library community though it likely generated significant negative feedback. It was published in “Christian Librarianship Essays On The Integration of Faith and Profession” by Gregory A. Smith and Donald G. Davis.

Contrary to the opinion of some, the relationship between the Christian faith and librarianship need not be adversarial. Three factors suggest the two can be integrated with mutual benefit. First, for two thousand years Christians have developed libraries in order to further their religious mission. In the process, they have preserved secular resources and stimulated the development of libraries at large.

Second, Christian interest in libraries is not merely pragmatic. Rather, Christian theism provides a rationale for many of the philosophical assumptions that underlie contemporary librarianship. The Christian faith justifies the librarians’ commitment to service, intellectual freedom, preservation, literacy and other professional ideals.

Third, Christians have energetically explored the relationship between their faith and disciplines such as philosophy, psychology, history, and biology. Though little has been done to interpret library science from a Christian perspective, insights from other fields suggests that this process would be fruitful.

In this essay, I have referred to Christianity primarily as a philosophical system. It’s central concern is, of course, spiritual–drawing us into a proper relationship with the creator of the universe: ‘And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent’ (John 17:3).  No librarian should identify with the Christian faith simply because of its historical and philosophical ties to libraries. Nevertheless, librarians who identify themselves as Christians (and those who might consider doing so) should be encouraged to find that they may pursue their religious commitments without sacrificing their professional pursuits. In short, Christian librarianship is not an oxymoron.”



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