Ministry Spotlight:
The OSL Library: Growth and Rejuvenation

By Chad Mickelson

An element of surprise has always been associated with the Our Savior’s Library. Those experiencing the Library for the first time—prospective members, synod assembly attendees, and community members alike—express their amazement with the size and the variety of the contents offered.

“You have such an amazing library,” is commonly heard from first-time visitors.

Those more familiar with the OSL Library will find a new feel these days when visiting. Updated furniture and a revolving variety of creative displays are just a couple of things easily noticed.

“We are trying new things—new methods and some new ideas,” says OSL Library Coordinator Jana Keller. “We are currently weeding through some of the nonfiction books, and we hope that will give us some room for more current titles and to try some more creative displays.”

Photo of Library Anniversary "Cake"
Display of Books by William J Reynolds

Prior to her start as Library Coordinator in January, Jana served as the Assistant Librarian for Deb Merxbauer. She credits Deb for providing a strong foundation and organized structure from which to start.

“She’s one of the reasons I came to work here,” Jana recalls. “She was my mentor growing up, and it was an honor to get the opportunity to work with her directly.”

Jana sees a twofold mission for the OSL Library moving forward. She hopes to reaffirm the Library’s commitment as a foundational resource for the congregation, and she also hopes it can be utilized as a wonderful tool for ministry to those outside of the church walls.

“We are trying to get the word out that we are open to the community. We have extended our Saturday hours to be open every week. We’ve made it a point to be open during public elections to encourage people outside of the congregation to stop in and visit; maybe rest and relax a bit.”

As for the internal congregational resource, OSL Library volunteers recently enjoyed taking an active role in the summer Vacation Bible School (VBS) rotation. While the Library provided an interactive link to the VBS curriculum with things like puppet and magic shows, the kids’ favorite part of their time in the Library each day seemed to be the rare opportunity to just read a book. A few closing moments of the Library rotation provided a quiet time for reading and reflection.

Reading to kids in the OSL Library

“We didn’t have time to offer that reading time on the final day, and the kids really missed it,” Jana says. “It was impactful to notice that; how kids don’t have the opportunities to sit and read. I really think they would relish more opportunities to do that.”

The hope is that the OSL Library will be a resource for this fall’s Sunday School rotation, in addition to finding opportunities to connect with individuals and families on Wednesday night as well.

The driving factor in the success of the OSL Library is a committed group of volunteers. There is a wide range of volunteer responsibilities, including weekday and Sunday volunteers, recycled card creators, book-sale volunteers and Library Ministry members. People interested in helping out in are encouraged to discuss what role might be a good fit for them.

Photo of Jana and Chad

New ideas for books, programming, and fellowship are also encouraged. A majority of the books ordered for the Library come directly from reader suggestions. A shared copy of the Argus Leader remains a popular attraction, and there are also magazines to enjoy while finding some solace.

“We really want to be an accommodating place for all OSL and community members to read, grow and gather. We want you to feel a sense of belonging here.” 

Note: Jana and Chad began a job-sharing venture in January 2022, which includes an approximate two-thirds portion Library Coordinator role for creative and programming execution and one-third Library Administrator for budgeting and other aspects.

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