BiblioMinistry is an organization focused on these things:
1. Providing religious (meta)literacy education for faith communities and laypeople.
2. Facilitating robust congregational library development.
BiblioMinistry began in 2010 as a response to Rebecca Klemme Eliceiri’s experiences as a M.Div graduate and library science student. While many people with similar educational backgrounds work as librarians in theological seminaries or other similar institutions, Rebecca hoped that she could do something for “the people in the pews,” (a.k.a. laypeople). She noticed that religious education in religious communities tended to consist more of content knowledge (such as doctrinal positions and other factual knowledge), rather than a more comprehensive exploration of how those doctrinal positions and theological religious beliefs came into being.
Many first-semester seminarians experience a certain amount of shock and anger during the process of learning to study the Bible from historical critical (and other scholarly) methods, generally because they feel like their faith is being uprooted. Rebecca experienced shock (from joy), and anger, because she believed she should have heard about the things she studied in her first semester Old Testament class long before she came to seminary. After reflecting on her anger for a while, she determined that her hometown pastor was not the issue; the real issue was that on the whole, pastors were not expected to bring the fruits of their own theological education experiences (i.e. serious theological study) into congregational life.
She began to explore the concept of church libraries and discovered that while they existed, they were often underfunded, filled with outdated material in need of weeding, and that most people who staffed church libraries had plenty of enthusiasm for such a ministry but had little to no formal religious/theological or library science education.
While the efforts of congregational librarians are commendable, particularly in light of the above things, the vocation of congregational librarianship has suffered because congregations are generally unwilling or unable to fund congregational libraries and their staff at levels that would allow congregational libraries to become true educational partners with other church staff.
While BiblioMinistry originally focused solely on improving church libraries, as time (and Rebecca’s library science education) went on, she learned a great deal about the broader concept of information literacy and its relevance in educational institutions of many kinds. Seminarians (i.e. future clergy) have only begun learning information literacy concepts in their educational experiences within the last decade; information literacy has not yet made its way into congregational life at large. As she considered the role that information literacy could play in academic institutions, she also considered the possibility that information literacy had a place in congregational life.
Additionally, bringing extensive religious/theological and library science education into the lives of congregational librarians would provide the following benefits:
1. Librarians, as people who are specially trained to help other people find resources, have greater insight than most people into research processes.
2. Information literacy originated in libraries, but is doomed to stay in libraries (and fail) if librarians don’t teach it to the broader world.
3. Integrating the content learned in religious/theological education with the processes and tools learned in library science education would help congregational librarians to act as key partners with other congregational staff and empower laity towards deeper discipleship.
As a theologically-trained librarian, Rebecca believes that religious information literacy has much to offer religious communities as a complement to (rather than a replacement of) religious education in congregations. People of faith gain a firm faith foundation through disciplined exploration of their faith via theological and religious studies research methods: learning about formal research methods, information management, discernment and access, and how to share their research results with others. Indeed, the entire religious world benefits from these things.
BiblioMinistry seeks to help religious communities implement programs of religious information literacy instruction, offer resources pertaining to religious information literacy, and help religious communities procure access to solid religious and theological print and e-resources.
(Originally at: http://www.biblioministry.org/myfaq/index.php?solution_id=1000)