Christian Library ‘saved from the skip’ now accessible online


A ‘gem’ of Christian resources and information is housed in the suburbs of Ipswich and is free for all to use. Graeme Duncan recently visited the Ipswich Christian Resource Library to hear how it was saved from disappearing, and has recently been lovingly updated and made accessible online.

The Ipswich Christian Resource Library was started some years ago now, beginning life as the Anglican diocesan library for the area. It was housed in the St Nicholas church centre in Ipswich. However with changing usage of the premises they had no room for the library which, as the story goes, would have ended up in a skip had it not been for Sheilah Lloyd, the wife of a former vicar of St. Andrew’s church, Ipswich, who rescued it, transferred it to one of the many rooms in their church, and named it ‘The Ipswich Christian Resource Library’.

Some years later, the current librarian, Emma Haggar, started using the library when she
was studying for a foundation degree in theology. When Emma finished her course in 2015 she came to return her final book to the library only to discover that it had closed. All the books were still there but there was no-one opening it and running it any more because there were only a very small number of people using it.

“I can browse books here to see if they are the ones I really want. If you buy a book on the internet there is the risk that when you receive it you find out it isn’t really the one you want”

After being of great benefit to her studies and not wanting to see the library closed, Emma felt that she could help out and began to re-open the library every Tuesday and Wednesday morning. Emma began by rationalising the stock in cutting down the number of titles held, and putting it into alphabetical order. She advertised it, set up a website and started compiling an electronic, searchable catalogue.

Emma has now developed an expansive variety of books on wide ranging topics, which are all catalogued, from theology and biographies, to bible study resources and material for holiday clubs and youth workers. It is a library not only to resource churches in the local area, but also for the benefit of individual study and  Christian journey.

Although housed in an Anglican church Emma is quick to stress that this is an ecumenical library for the use of all!

Whilst visiting the library I met with Ruth, a library borrower who is training to be a Methodist local preacher. She told me she has found the library invaluable in helping with material for services, and especially bible commentaries, as these books would be very expensive to buy. Ruth said, ‘I can browse books here to see if they are the ones I really want. If you buy a book on the internet there is the risk that when you receive it you find out it isn’t really the one you want.’

However, after all the hard work Emma has put into the library she is off to Bristol in September to train for ministry in the Anglican church. Whilst there will continue to be access to the library each Tuesday and Wednesday morning from 10am to 12noon, it will be on a self processing basis, unless someone comes forward to replace Emma. If that is something you would be interested in getting involved with, Emma can be contacted through their website or via Facebook. 

A wide range of resources – books, DVDs and CDs are there for all to benefit from, so do visit the library and see if there is something that you personally, or your church, can use.

The library is housed in St. Andrew’s Church, Britannia Road, Ipswich, IP4 5HF

Church Office Tel: 01473 721695