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Sacred Stacks: The Higher Purpose of Libraries and Librarianship
Nancy Kalikow Maxwell
Item Number: 978-0-8389-0917-1
Publisher: ALA Editions
Price: $41.00
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218 pages
6" x 9"
ISBN-13: 978-0-8389-0917-1
Year Published: 2006
“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.
About the Author

Nancy Kalikow Maxwell, currently an administrator at Miami Dade College North Campus Library, has more than thirty years of experience in public and academic libraries. She is an award-winning writer, writing extensively on library and religion topics. She contributes frequently to American Libraries magazine and has authored two ALA Techsource Library Technology Reports. Her articles have also appeared in National Catholic Reporter, Tikkun, Lilith, and Reform Judaism. She holds her MA in Library Science from the University of Missouri at Columbia and an MA in Catholic theology, the first Jewish recipient, from Barry University.

"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."

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