Library Sale At First Church

For years First Presbyterian Church of Altoona Gap had a mysterious room that no one ever entered. When the children opened its doors it was usually to find a spooky hiding place. Once opened the musty smell filled the entire facility. This was the library that was established by Sunday School pioneer Martha Vander Hostel. A champion of education in the “educated denomination” Martha believed that having books available to the congregation would “heighten the public morality and bring about the civic ideal of an educated electorate.”

When First Church’s library was the only one in the Altoona Gap community it was a bustling place according to elderly resident Sally Finkleberg. Yet, with the advent of a public library First Church’s space fell into disuse.

“It became merely a repository for each retired minister’s collection of books they no longer wanted,” claims elder Vernon Peapot.

A year ago the remaining 12 members celebrated their 105th anniversary and decided it was time to decide what to do with the library space. A local taekwondo group looking for space seemed to be the answer, but what to do with everything currently in the library?

“A book sale!” was the unanimous response from the First Church’s 10 elders.

Walking through the stacks of books is like a stroll down memory lane for Adele Stimson. In one stack are favorite authors like Corrie Ten Boom, Josh McDowell and Peter Marshall. In the next stack there are Sunday School material from the 1960’s that she taught her children. In a final pile are stacks of old hymnals whose binding is broken and worn. They were stacked in the library when the blue ones where purchased 10 years ago. She lovingly flips through the pages and defiantly notes, “I never liked those new hymnals, I don’t know the songs!”

There is sure to be a treasure for everyone next Saturday.


One Response to “Library Sale At First Church”

  1. Andrew Says:

    So. Very. True.

    One thing you forgot to mention about the book sale: I’m sure there will be plenty of old, worn out Bibles with pages falling out and/or broken spines. When I wasted FAR too many hours a few years ago organizing a congregational library, I found 20-30 of these gems. It seems that the people who used to own these volumes bought new copies, but didn’t want to commit a sin by throwing away a Bible. The obvious solution: “donate” them to the congregation’s library where they can still be used by those poor souls who aren’t even lucky enough to have a copy with a broken spine that’s missing pages from Amos 2 through half of Malachi…

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