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by Ed Halpaus

One of the nicest and best benefits a Lodge can provide for the Masons of the Lodge is a good library. A library that is available for a Lodge member to visit, sit and relax, while reading or doing some research on a subject that interests him.

Itís good for a Lodge to have a library that is fairly well stocked, with some good books, and one that is actually increasing in the number of books in it each year.

One of the things, I believe, that should be available in a Lodge Library are the 5 Quest Books each Mason is given in the course of taking his degrees. There is some fine information in those books, and in many cases it would be good for us to read in them from time to time. For instance in Quest Book #5 is this Paragraph: ďIt is urged that you learn through study about this great Fraternity of which you are now a member. Literally thousands of books are available on Masonry. The following short list is given here as recommended reading for the new Master Mason.Ē

I would suggest the list is a pretty good list for all Masons, new or not so new. The list is of 25 books written by some well-known authors. The list in Quest Book #5 and many of the books available at the Grand Lodge of Minnesota Book Store contain some fine books to have in a Lodge library, and for an individual Mason to have in his personal library as well.

What is a good way to add to the Lodge Library regularly in a way that is affordable even for the Lodge that has a small budget for such things? There are some ways that have been tried, and have proved successful, by Lodges. These suggestions to follow have not only been helpful in helping to build up a library, but also they have been helpful in providing enlightenment to the brethren.

An idea, that is a great idea and, was passed on to me by W.B. Tony Keane Ė Past Grand Lodge Education Officer, is for a Lodge to establish a reading circle.

A reading circle would consist of four, five, or six Brothers who would each purchase a book on or about a Masonic subject and read it, when he is done with it he passes it on to the next Brother in the circle. As time goes on each Brother, if he wishes, could present a review of the book to the others or to the Lodge, and when each brother finishes reading his book he passes the book on to the next Brother who will read it, and so on until all the Brothers in the Reading Circle have read each book, at this time all of the books from the reading circle are donated to the Lodge Library by the Brothers of the circle.

So in about 6 months time 6 additional books could be donated to the library with no large outlay of cash by any one Brother, and each Mason in the circle has had some fine enjoyment as well as learning a new wrinkle or two along the way. In addition the Brothers in the circle can give a review of each book to the Lodge to whet the appetites of all the Brothers if they are of a mind to do that. If there is enough interest a couple or three reading circles may get going, thatís better than having one big reading circle with 12 or 18 Brothers.

Another good idea is for the Lodge to join the a masonic book club such as the Minnesota Masonic Book Club. This club provides books at a reasonable cost that are enlightening and enjoyable for Masons to read and use. The books usually cost $15.00 or less and come out about every three months. If the Lodge wishes to keep the book for its library it sends in the money for the book, if it doesnít want the book it just simply sends it back to the Grand Lodge Office. Thatís it, a simple little book club that will help build a Lodge library.

Another idea that has been used by some Lodges is to have an annual book allowance for the Lodge Education Officer, or Master, to spend each year on books for the Lodge Library. Many Lodges will have an allowance of up to about $300 a year for this purpose.

I would suggest again that the Grand Lodge Book Store is a fine place to get books for the Library, as they are available there at prices that are generally less than the books would cost elsewhere.

I will also add that books donít need to big, or expensive, to be good books for a Mason to read. There are many books that are available from the Masonic Service Association that contain some great Masonic Information, and they are all of reasonable cost.

Also a subscription for the Lodge to the Scottish Rite Journal, (the Magazine from the A.A.S.R. Southern Jurisdiction,) is a fine way to build up a library for a small cost. The same is true for the Magazine of the Northern Jurisdiction. And a subscription to The Philalethes and the Scottish Rite Research Society are also great things to provide Masonic periodicals to the Library. Finally, and not least by any means, a subscription to the Short Talk Bulletin for the Lodge is a good thing. The cost for these subscriptions, and others that are available too, are very low cost, and provide some great Masonic Education Material.

What makes a Lodge Library good is not only the neat appearance of books on a shelf, but in my mind, it is the contents of the books and periodicals available. There is a multitude of information that can be included in a Masonic Lodge Library that can be purchased for a good amount of money, a small amount of money, and sometimes for free, the key is to use all three categories to get some good information in a library.

There are Masonic Education Newsletters available that can be put into a Lodge Library.

Well there are some ways to help build up a Lodge Library that are not too hard on the Lodge Pocket Book. I would add another idea, and that is for a Brother to donate his library to the Lodge when he is no longer using it. Books passed on from a Brother to his Lodge and thus to his Brothers is a fine legacy to leave to a Lodge.

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Last modified: March 22, 2014