Monday, January 5, 2009


I am grateful for public libraries. As a child it was a Saturday ritual with me to walk to the St. Catharines city library by myself on child-safe streets. Some days I would sit with the chief librarian as she read a story. I would then browse the shelves and select several books, all of which I would read by the following Saturday. My family’s meager means never occurred to me then in part because of this lavish joy. Books, books, books.

As I grew older I eagerly built a personal library, purchasing books for high school and college and looking forward to the day that I would be a pastor. One day my home church pastor called me to his office. He was moving to the U.S and he was offloading some of his library directly into my arms. I used many of them for forty years.

It was while reading Wilbur M. Smith’s ‘Before I Forget – Memoirs’, Chicago, Moody Press, 1971, p. 283), that I was inspired to enlarge my library. Over the years Smith built a fabulous personal library (more than 25,000 volumes), and he was recognized as one of the world’s foremost authorities on books pertaining to the Bible. He held four pastorates over a twenty-year period. Smith himself was a prolific author and although he never attended a theological seminary and did not have a theological degree he taught at the Moody Institute from 1938-1947, and subsequently at Fuller Theological Seminary from 1947-1963, and concluded his thirty-three year teaching career at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School from 1963-1971. It was a day when knowledge was valued more than letters of degree behind one’s name. Perhaps Smith’s most remarkable book was ‘THEREFORE STAND — A Plea for a Vigorous Apologetic in the Present Crisis of Evangelical Christianity.’ Published in 1945 to counter the spirit of liberalism that was questioning the authority of Scriptures, it was a huge success receiving scholarly accolades.

Through the years part of my financial package was a book allowance and through the years I developed a library of hundreds of volumes. One of my first considerations at the time of my retirement was divesting myself of some of these because no longer having an off site library space, my home could not contain my collection. It was a shock to realize how many books were dated and outdated and of no use to others. Boxes and boxes were given to charity outlets and some to Surrey trash. Still boxes are stacked in my garage and must be disposed of eventually.

Libraries today require little space, perhaps a desk drawer because vast amounts of books and resources are available on CDs. I have Bibleworks for instance which in one program equips me with countless language translations, lexicons, reference material, commentaries. Similar benefits exist in every discipline.

I now have a library card at my local Cloverdale Library and have access to books I could never afford. I have come to the end of a marvelous loaned biography of former lieutenant - governor of BC, the Honourable David Lam. On his last night in Government House, David and his wife Dorothy said a prayer and thanked God, humbled by the privilege of the past six and one half years and believing that it was a gift from God.


  1. If you like to listen to books, I recommend which is making audio files of every book in the public domain. You can download them free.

    For Christian books, is an excellent source. They give away one free audio book a month. This month’s gift is McCasland’s biography of Oswald Chambers which I understand is excellent. I downloaded it but haven’t gotten into it yet.

    You can listen to some of this while you exercise and double your benefit.

  2. Correction - it should be for the free public domain audio books

  3. Terry this is a welcome idea for me. I can listen while I paint.