Sacred Stacks: The Higher Purpose of Libraries and Librarianship

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"Librarians serve a higher purpose that no amount of digitization or computerization can ever replace…Libraries have survived and will continue to thrive in the future, because they fulfill eternal needs for people."—Nancy Kalikow Maxwell from the Preface

Librarianship as a calling is a powerful perspective. While it's been a long time since libraries were exclusively the provenance of monks, some of those sacred roots remain, according to librarian and theologian Maxwell. Many librarians sense the deeper meaning and higher purpose in their work, yet rarely have time to contemplate it.

Maxwell's down-to-earth candor combined with scholarly insight is designed to inspire and enlighten her library peers and colleagues. Drawing from history, sociology and philosophy, Sacred Stacks voices the importance of the library profession and libraries as community institutions in a secular time.

Considering these higher purposes of libraries, she outlines the work of librarians and libraries that:

  • Promote community
  • Uplift society
  • Bestow immortality
  • Preserve and transmit culture
  • Organize chaos
  • Provide sacred space

Librarians, LIS students and educators, as well as trustees can step into these Sacred Stacks to reignite meaning in their everyday work.

Nancy Kalikow Maxwell

Nancy Kalikow Maxwell, M.L.S., M.A., is a grant-writing consultant with Kaliwell, Inc.. Throughout her thirty-year library career, she has participated in successful grant projects totaling more than ten million dollars, with more than one million of those dollars flowing directly to libraries. In South Florida, she was library director at Miami Dade College (Miami, FL) and Barry University (Miami Shores, FL). She is the author of ALA Editions’ Grant Money through Collaborative Partnerships (2012) and the editor of The ALA Book of Library Grant Money, Ninth Edition (2014).

"Maxwell's observations are funny, pointed, thought-provoking, and wry. Whether one's cosmology involves deities or not, this is a book to read, ponder, and discuss beyond the sacred walls of the library. Highly recommended."