Meeting in Connection with the Work of Librarians, June 7, 1938

The Christian Science Reading Room is a logical outgrowth of the discovery of the Christ Science by Mary Baker Eddy, and of the world's need of this revelation of Truth. Hence it is important that we gain a clear vision of the Reading Room as a vital factor in the growth and prosperity of the Church of Christ, Scientist. If we look upon the Reading Room as having only a minor part in our movement and conduct it accordingly, we miss the great blessings enjoyed by the branch church when the Reading Room is seen as the compassionate arm of the church holding out to a weary world the healing truths of the Science of Mind. Surely we have abundant reasons to regard the Reading Room as a very important part of church activity, since our Leader devotes a page in the Church Manual to providing for the establishment and the conduct of the Reading Room.

Mrs. Eddy stresses the necessity for the study of this Science on page 147 of Science and Health, where she writes: ... "Although this volume contains the complete Science of Mind-healing, never believe that you can absorb the whole meaning of the Science by a simple perusal of this book. The book needs to be studied, and the demonstration of the rules of scientific healing will plant you firmly on the spiritual groundwork of Christian Science." ... It is entirely in keeping with this counsel that our Leader has written Article XXI into the By-Laws of the Church of Christ, Scientist, in which she places on every church the obligation to maintain a Christian Science Reading Room, where one may study and ponder the word of truth and enlightenment. Thus the need of the world and the efficacy of the truth to heal the world's woes underlie the establishment of the Reading Room.

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The importance of this activity of the church is emphasized in the requirements in Section 1 of this By-Law: "Each church of the Christian Science denomination shall have a Reading Room." Clearly an activity which is to be shared by each church is highly important to the branch church as well as to the Christian Science movement. Hence it is important that each branch church carry out the Manual provision for a Reading Room. This should be done in loving obedience to the spirit of one who, having seen a great light, desired to share it with others. To do this is to obey the commandment, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself," and that other command, "Freely ye have received, freely give." The Scriptural measure for giving is, "With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." If we are truly grateful for the blessings which Christian Science has brought to us, the collective gratitude of the branch church will find expression in a well-located and well-conducted Reading Room, and the branch church will manifest the growth and prosperity which flow from such a Reading Room.

Section 1 provides also for the extension of Reading Room activity. Though each branch church establishes its Reading Room, "two or more churches may unite in having Reading Rooms, provided they are well located." Notice the plural, "Reading Rooms." As applied to Reading Room work today, this provision is carried out to the extent of jointly conducted Reading Rooms, which are usually located in business centers. But, this section places no limit on further expansion.

As Christian Science becomes more widely recognized as a Science—Mrs. Eddy calls it the Science of Christianity—even Christian Scientists will become more eager students of this Science and will be found more often in the Reading Room of the branch church. The question of so many librarians, "How can we get our church members to use the Reading Room?" will then be answered, and Reading Rooms will multiply.

The question is sometimes asked, "What does 'well-located' mean as applied to the Christian Science Reading Room?" With the universal need for a knowledge of Christian Science, "well-located" might mean a location accessible to the greatest number of people. The revelation of Christian Science is set forth in type and ink for people to read. The open book in a street-level display window is a constant appeal to be read. I have in mind a newly-opened Reading Room displaying in its window a copy of Science and Health open at page 1, the chapter on Prayer, and another copy of the book open at the first two pages of "Fruitage." The display promptly drew many inquiries about physical healings, the inquirers taking the textbook and finding the answers to their queries in the book itself. Frequent or even daily changes of testimonies would add to the interest of the display.

If your window or case is restricted in size, the oftener should the display be changed. But when you consider the wealth of good news in Mrs. Eddy's writings, in our periodicals, and more especially in testimonies of healing, you find that you can change your window displays daily and each day present some new aspect or attribute of truth in the open book.

Section 2 of Article XXI places the Reading Room in charge of the librarian. The librarian is responsible to the governing body which appoints or elects the librarian. The Reading Room of today requires consecrated, prayerful, intelligent direction on the part of a librarian, as well as some degree of business ability in handling the purchase and sale of the many books and other literature and receiving subscriptions to the periodicals and the Monitor. The governing board in the branch church needs to be informed as to the qualifications desirable in the individual appointed to take charge of the Reading Room. Section 2 provides that the librarian "shall have no bad habits," and "shall be well educated."

Orders for Mrs. Eddy's works come to my desk daily which show that some librarians have the habit of neglecting to state in orders the color or edition of the titles called for, a habit which I mention in the hope of correcting it. Other orders come to my attention almost daily in which the multiplication table has been trifled with. Another bad habit which librarians may easily correct is failure to check Reading Room prices with the catalogue of Mrs. Eddy's works and sending unsigned checks as payment for orders. You will be glad to learn, I know, that a new, complete catalogue of Mrs. Eddy's writings will be sent to all Reading Rooms shortly. Please see that the old catalogue is destroyed when the new catalogue reaches you.

Section 3 of Article XXI virtually commissions the Reading Room in each branch church as a salesroom for all authorized Christian Science literature. The Reading Room, under this Manual provison, acts as the purchasing agency of the branch church in supplying the members of the church and congregation with the writings of Mary Baker Eddy and all other Christian Science literature.

Under Mrs. Eddy's plan of church organization, the Reading Room in the hands of the branch church becomes an effective agency for guarding the purity of her revelation, and for protecting the seeker for Truth from spurious literature circulated in the name of Christian Science. Thus is the Reading Room made an additional safeguard to her writings, protected as they are by copyright laws, as well as by the "Cross and Crown" emblem registered in the patent office in Washington and in one hundred and eighteen other countries as well, as a perpetual mark of identification of our Leader's writings and of authorized Christian Science literature. How gladly should each branch church welcome the commission from the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science to maintain its Reading Room as a link in a world-encircling agency for sending out the unadulterated truth and for keeping its flame fully aglow!

In establishing the Reading Room and thus providing every facility for the study of this Science, our Leader has shown her compassionate love for humanity. She has said, "I love mankind, and shall continue to labor and to endure" (Science and Health, p. 99). Can we not also with love for mankind continue to labor with Mary Baker Eddy and to endure with her in our work for and with the Christian Science movement? With the Reading Room "On Guard," and dispensing the healing truths of Christian Science, the triumph of divine Love will be assured, and our work in the Reading Room will prosper, for Love has provided the Reading Room as a definite means to a definite end, namely, the healing of mankind. ...

July 16, 1938

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