Service is Love Made Practical

By Sarah Bell

Jesus’ life demonstrated the importance of serving (helping) others with love. He went about doing good in many different ways. He made his love for God practical by loving others in ways that met their specific needs. All of us can do the same. Our guest, Sarah Bell, is a former librarian who shares how libraries provide great services to people.


Service is certainly a main focus of libraries. Libraries are about learning, which doesn’t necessarily come through the printed word or from a DVD. Learning often comes through sharing with other people. Libraries provide outreach activities. Some libraries are doing pretty amazing things. A community in Wisconsin has a seed library—where people can get seeds to plant and then restock the collection.

When I started working at the public library in Sitka, Alaska, there weren’t a lot of adult programs. So I focused on providing service to that segment of our population. I believe that there’s nothing better than a local expert: you can ask questions and get answers. A lot of Sitkans travel, so many were willing to share photos and experiences. We had cookbook exchanges. Experts came in to demonstrate how to cut a big piece of meat or how to make tortillas.

There are so many folks who are willing to share what they know. I got a grant and brought in authors who write about out-of-doors adventures or land use. One guy shared how he walked the “haul road” to Prudhoe Bay with his dog. All of this would interest the Sitkans. Whatever my imagination could dream up and would reflect our community’s interest, I tried to do.

When I worked at the high school library, I had a “hobby” fair, inviting adults in to share their hobbies with students to try to cultivate student curiosity about healthy-minded activities they could develop. I mainly supported classroom curricular needs. We participated in a statewide program called the Battle of the Books, where students grouped by ages would compete, answering questions about 12 preselected books. There are just so many different ways to help students learn and find what they love.

How can you find avenues for service in your community? Can you use your school library for service? Can you get involved in a service club? Whatever you choose to do to serve others, when you serve them with love, your work will make a difference.