MATTHEWS – For 15 years, a library under the umbrella of nonprofit Christ Our Shepherd Ministries has operated out of the former Matthews United Methodist Church building on Ames Street. But until recently, the library didn’t have an official name.
The library has been open to the public since its inception, providing patrons with access to Christian books, movies and other services. But many people within the community assume the library is strictly for COS Kids – Christ Our Shepherd’s child development program – or don’t know it exists at all.
That’s why leaders are gearing up for a 15th anniversary celebration that serves a trifold purpose: celebrating the library’s 15 years; unveiling the rebranding of the library as the “Matthews Christian Library;” and simply letting people know the library is there.
“We have a lot of patrons, but by the same token we should have a lot more,” founder Aana Lisa Whatley said.
The celebration is slated for Saturday, Sept. 21, from 1 to 4 p.m. at the library, 116 N. Ames St. The event will feature “family fun” activities like face painting, pony and tractor rides, balloon animals, a book sale, raffles and a family scavenger hunt.
Also on the agenda are performances by Central Vocal Band, Musical Heirs, King David Christian Conservatory Performing Arts Center, the Matthews United Methodist Church praise team and COS Kids. People also will have a chance to meet well-known authors Margaret Monteuil, Marybeth Whalen and Robert Whitlow, who’ll be signing their books.
Visitors will have a chance to tour the newly named Matthews Christian Library and learn more about the services it offers. For an annual fee of $35 for a basic membership (up to 10 items checked out at one time) or $70 for a premium membership (up to 40 items checked out at one time), patrons gain access to more than 28,000 volumes of books, movies and audio books for children of all ages; fiction, nonfiction and reference books for adults; home school resources; Bible study materials; and more.
The library has a monthly allotment of funds to purchase new materials, but a lot of the items are donated. Librarian Carol Warrick said materials – especially books by new authors and movies – go through a heavy screening process to ensure they’re both “appropriate” for Christian audiences, as well as Biblically sound.
“We make sure all (of the materials) we offer can strengthen families, reading and a love of the library,” Warrick said.
The Matthews Christian Library also offers story time for children every Friday at 10 a.m., a Krafts 4 Kids program on the second and fourth Saturday of the month, summer reading programs, free wireless Internet access and an outside prayer garden and reading patio. There’s also a “chapel” area available for those wishing to host children’s programs, meetings, book discussions, home school lectures, tea gatherings and weddings.
The chapel and library are occasionally used by classes from COS Kids, but common misconceptions are that the library is either directly connected to COS Kids or strictly a children’s library.
But that’s not the case, said Jean Bock, community relations manager for the library.
“A lot of people who use the library don’t have children here (in COS KIDS), or may have in the past,” she said. “But many never did.”
One of the perks of the library, Bock said, is it gives families living in financially tight situations access to the materials their children need for school, as well as books and movies they can take home and enjoy.
“This is a Christian family library” that’s open to the public, Bock said. “Everyone is welcome.”