St. Mark’s congregation is diverse in terms of backgrounds and interests.  Similarly, people’s concerns change throughout life.  For these reasons, the Dozier Library’s collection is equally diverse, containing books and other material on the following subjects:

  • Bibles, prayer books, hymnals, and commentaries
  • History, theology, and art of Christianity
  • History and liturgy of the Episcopal Church
  • Prayer, meditation, and other spiritual practices
  • Preaching, lay leadership, youth education and ministry
  • Pastoral care and books on major life issues
  • Social justice, celebrating diversity, and caring for creation
  • Children’s books relating to young adults relating to religion and a variety of life issues
  • Other world religions

Given its space constraints, the library can only house a selection of titles on these topics, ranging from introductory to more in-depth material.  The hope of the Library Committee is that these holdings will pique the interest of parishioners and lead to further exploration using the wider resources found online and in public libraries.

Getting to Know the Collection On-Site

A quick way to see what the collection comprises is to look at the printed Catalog, two copies of which are in three-ring binders to the right of the entrance.  Each binder contains a short description of how the library is organized, followed by an author’s sort and a title sort for the Adult Collection, and similar sorts for the Children’s Collection.

At the back of each binder are some “Topical Sorts” listing books that are related by category or theme, such as books by St. Mark’s Authors, books pertaining to Israel and Palestine, books by scholars involved in the Jesus Seminar, and books about Women Shaping Christianity.  These listings have resulted from displays put on by the Library Committee in Baxter Hall, so more will be added in the future.

The best way to discover what is in the collection, however, is to take a look at the titles of the works on the shelves.  This can result in serendipitous encounters with authors or subjects for which one wasn’t intentionally searching but which strike a chord in some way.

The Library Committee also welcomes the opportunity to provide brief introductory tours to teachers, classes, and other interest groups within the congregation.

How the Room is Organized

To the right of the entrance, the two corner bookshelves contain books for children, young adults (ages 14-18), and adults working in Youth Ministry.

  • Books on Religion & Spiritual Practices

The bookcase on the left is devoted to books about Christianity, other religions, and spiritual practices, including prayer, worship traditions, and religious holidays.  The spines of all the books in this bookcase have a blue dot on their shelving labels, plus a yellow dot if they are intended for young adults or a green dot if they are intended for people working in Youth Ministry.

The books are arranged in order of their Library of Congress shelving number.  When a book is not in the LC system, its label will show the author’s name and the year of publication.  Oversized books on a separate shelf will also be arranged this way.

The bottom shelf holds books intended for individuals working in Youth Ministry, including teaching.  Their labels are marked YM.

  • Books on Life Issues

The bookcase on the right contains books on a variety of “life issues” including interpersonal relations and ethics, challenges faced by children and young adults, celebrating diversity, working for social justice, and caring for creation.  The shelving labels for these books have a red dot.  Those intended for young adults also have a yellow dot.

At the back of the room, the large alcove contains most of the books in the adult collection.  With a few exceptions, all of these books are shelved in alphabetical order by the Library of Congress classification system.  Starting with the second shelf on the far left, the LC spine labels begin with B and run along the back wall to T.

Special sections and locations

As with the books for children and Youth Ministry, some books in the adult section have special spine labels and are grouped together:

  • Anchor Bible Commentaries

This large series (donated by our 11th Rector, Rev. Paul R. Abernathy) is located on top of the bookcase along the back wall.  The spine labels carry the standard LC shelving information.

  • A/V material

Some CDs and cassette tapes can be found enclosed in slipcases or books throughout the collection.  Others, including videotapes, are located on the bottom shelf at the end of the adult section.

  • Classics of Western Spirituality

This 19-volume series was donated by Buzz March, a former member of St. Mark’s.  Previously shelved together, these books have now been integrated into the collection by topic according to their Library of Congress shelving numbers.

  • Oversize books

Books too large to stand vertically on a shelf are stacked horizontally on top of the two cupboards to the left of the alcove.  Their labels indicate OVERSIZE below the standard Library of Congress shelf number.  They are also designated as oversize in the catalog.

  • Reference

This section is located in the last bookcase on the right at the back of the room – and on the adjacent cart.  The Reference section contains a variety of different Bibles, prayer books, and hymnals, as well as concordances, dictionaries, and atlases.   The spine labels show “REFERENCE” below either the LC shelf number or the work’s title.  All reference materials are non-circulating.  They are intended for use in the library or short-term use elsewhere in the church

  • Mark’s Authors

These books are located on the top shelf on the far left of the alcove.  They include books written by current or former clergy and members of St. Mark’s.  Due to space constraints, we have limited the selection to books addressing issues of church life, personal faith, and social justice.  This section also includes CDs of hymns written by church members.  The spine labels read: SMA, author’s last name, and year of publication.

  • Worship

Books labeled “WORSHIP” (below either the LC shelf number or the work’s title) are shelved on the small rolling cart in the Library.  They include duplicates of the same Bibles, prayer books, and hymnals that are in the Reference section, as well as books pertaining to worship planning, such as lectionaries, inclusive prayers, and different liturgies.  The books on the cart are non-circulating.  They are intended for use in the library or short-term use by classes and committees elsewhere in the church.

Checking out and Returning Books

To check out an item, use the “Sign Out” binder on the shelf below the bulletin board at the entrance.  On the form inside, please print your name, phone or email, the name of the book (or CD, video, etc.), and the date you are checking it out.  If the book is one of several copies in the collection, please indicate which copy you have.  In general material may be kept for 30 days.

When returning material, please place it in the box next to the children’s bookcase.  The box is labeled “Please Place Returned Items Here.”  Please also find your entry in the Sign-out binder and indicate in the last column the date on which you are returning it.

If you remove one of the rolling carts for use elsewhere in the church, please return it to the library after your class or meeting is finished.  If you remove individual items from the carts or from the Reference section, please return them to the shelf where you found them.

Acquisitions & Donations

Although the Dozier Library has a modest budget for acquisitions, it is largely dependent on the generosity of parishioners for donations of new or gently used books.  Parishioners with suggestions of books to be added to the collection can record them in the three-ring binder marked “Suggestions” near the entrance door.

Parishioners who have books to donate should contact the Library Committee at to arrange a time to drop off the books.  Because the library is used for committee meetings, classes, and other activities each week, it is not appropriate to leave books anonymously.  For one thing, there is no storage space.  For another, it can be difficult to determine whether a book has been inadvertently left behind by someone who used the room or is an intended donation.

As the Library Committee accepts new books into the collection, it must sometimes cull out older titles to make room.  Discarded books are either offered to the congregation or given to the Virginia Theological Seminary, to local public libraries, or to organizations collecting books for overseas education programs.