Originally created 01/04/06

Librarian's book was an epic effort



When publishers asked Nancy Carson Library Manager Barbara Walker to revise a librarian's guide she had written about eight years ago, they assured her it would be easy.

"The original idea was for it to be a single (guide) like the first one," she said. "But they decided to break it up and came up with the idea of three separate books. They said, 'It won't require that much extra work.'

"It was a lot of work, but I think it was worth it."

Published in November, the three guides, The Librarian's Guide to Developing Christian Fiction Collections for Adults, The Librarian's Guide to Developing Christian Fiction Collections for Young Adults, and The Librarian's Guide to Developing Christian Fiction Collections for Children, reflect the boom on the topic, the librarian said.

"We're getting more and more books of Christian fiction," she said.

Several years ago, the titles were limited to books by authors such as Grace Livingston Hill, but now Christian fiction covers a range of topics, from schizophrenia to marital abuse to serial killers.

"Some of it is really good work," she said.

Ms. Walker said much of the interest in Christian fiction was sparked by the publication of the Left Behind series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins.

Before she ever thought of writing a book, Ms. Walker wrote an essay in 1990 about the absence of Christian fiction in the library. The article was published in a library journal.

At the time, she was working at the Aiken County Library, and she lived near an elderly woman who wanted to read books with uplifting story lines, clean language and an overlying Christian message.

The woman wanted to be able to check out such books from the library and not have to buy all of them.

The choice of books was limited, she said. She could find books by authors such as Ms. Hill, but her books had characters that seemed too perfect, Ms. Walker said.

Several years passed, and Ms. Walker forgot about the article.

Then, around 1997, while working at New Ellenton Middle School as a media specialist and language arts teacher, she received a call from a publishing company about her 1990 article. The publisher her to write a book on developing Christian fiction collections.

In 1997, book distributors carried few works of Christian fiction.

In her guides, Ms. Walker gives information on publishers and biographies on Christian authors. She also provides book reviews and a list of publishers.

The guide also covers issues such as separation of church and state.

Ms. Walker, who has been at Nancy Carson Library since 2002, said her library's extensive Christian fiction collection is a response to the many readers who ask for such books.

"Libraries should meet the needs of their community. (Christian fiction) happens to be one of the needs of this community," she said. "In some other state, we probably wouldn't have such a big collection."

Reach Charmain Z. Brackett at czbrackett@hotmail.com.