Phone still rings for long-closed resource centre

It’s a February afternoon in the General Synod library. The phone rings and the caller is seeking a video from the national church’s long-closed resource centre. It must be Lent, sighs librarian Karen Evans.

The resource centre closed in August 2000, as a result of budget cuts at the national level. The job of its coordinator, Annie Kakooza, was eliminated and hundreds of items (mostly videos) were parcelled out to various groups and diocesan resource centres that expressed interest in providing a new home for them. Some even went to other national church departments: partnerships, indigenous ministries, human resources and the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund all have former centre materials.

 But the library, headed by Ms. Evans (who used to oversee the work of the resource centre and Ms. Kakooza) still receives phone calls and e-mails inquiring about resources previously available from the centre. The inquiries trickle in throughout the year, but increase in the Advent and Lenten seasons, when parishes and dioceses typically hold events and programs requiring supplemental resources. 

Often, Ms. Evans says, callers even apologize for not having the latest resource centre catalogue in front of them when they call. (There has been no catalogue since the centre closed.)

The library staff, which was also cut by a half-time position in the 2000 restructuring, tries to respond to resource queries but doing so means less time available to answer the more than 3,000 queries that come in to the library each year.

Ms. Evans says there is now a vacuum in the Canadian church for print and video resources which do not have to be purchased. “I do feel badly because it’s usually assisted dioceses or remote parishes looking for these resources and this (the resource centre) was a great equalizing service.”

The centre was especially popular with less affluent parishes and dioceses because they needed only to pay for the postage in order to borrow resources. Those former users of the centre are out of luck now that the resources are often kept in diocesan resource centres, which simply do not have the staff to loan items outside their dioceses.

In 1998, the last year that the Resource Centre kept statistics, it handled more than 1,000 phone requests, 855 drop-in visits and circulated 844 video titles and 1,848 print resources.

Ms. Kakooza, who went on to fill a short-term contract position with the Multiple Sclerosis Society, continues to look for work in public service or special libraries.


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