Archival project underway at Fletcher church

By Aimee Hancock

Miami Valley Today

FLETCHER — The Fletcher United Methodist Church library is currently undergoing an update thanks to the work of resident Brittney Cook.

Cook, 22, is a recent graduate of Urbana University where she earned a degree in English with a focus on library studies.

She is now looking for a full-time job in her field — she would prefer to work in archival studies at a library or museum — while working part-time at both the St. Paris and Champaign County libraries.

In her free time, she has taken it upon herself to organize the UMC’s library, offering her time and efforts for free.

“My mom is the financial secretary there, so I visit her sometimes at work when I get the chance,” Cook said. “She took me up to the library one day and I could tell it just needed someone to go through it.”

According to Cook, this is a multi-faceted process that has included sifting through hundreds of books in order to create a more user-friendly library for the church.

“With the archives, I’m making sure everything is stored correctly and trying to get everything that’s in there written down,” she said. “For the library part of it, I wanted the books to be in order and for them to be current, so I spent some time weeding through and then organizing based on the Dewey Decimal System.”

Cook said she began the process in mid-June. Since the, she has spent a few hours at the library four to five days per week, with much work still left to be completed.

“There is a lot to do,” she said. “I don’t think I’m ever going to be satisfied with where I end it, but I’m trying to get a good start on it.”

Part of the organization includes re-labeling around 700 books.

“The system they were using wasn’t working,” she said. “The books weren’t staying in order and they were kind of wondering away, so I peeled the old spine labels off and put new ones on that were a little more clear.”

Along with books, Cook said she is working with local historical records stored at the church.

“There are a lot of financial ledgers dating back to the early 1900s, (and) there are some interesting police records from around the time of prohibition,” she said. “There is a book log of people who had been arrested for purchasing alcohol and I thought it was really fascinating that the church had ended up with that.”

Cook is also focusing on digitizing photographs and other documents so they may be preserved online and uploaded to the church’s website.

Though the budget for the project is modest, Cook said she hopes her efforts will still make a difference in conservation of the library as a whole.

“I’m just doing the best I can to make sure it will be preserved for a few more years than it is now,” she said.

Cook will return to school in the spring to earn her master’s degree at Clarion University in Pennsylvania where she will study library science with a concentration in local area archival studies.