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Down means up for MC Canada Resource Centre


Arlyn Friesen Epp and Anita Neufeld host the first Annual Downey Awards – in style.

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top loan items
The top three loan items for 2007

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January 29, 2007
-Deborah Froese

WINNIPEG, Manitoba — The trend of internet shopping has entered spiritual territory.

When Arlyn Friesen Epp, Mennonite Church Canada’s Resource Centre Manager heard radio reports that on-line Christmas shopping had again increased dramatically in 2007, he sat up and listened.

Though overwhelming the postal service with deliveries can be seen as yet another reflection of North America’s insatiable appetite for goods and speed, the news prompted Friesen Epp to take a closer look at the Resource Centre’s on-line activity – which proved to be up in all categories.

Overall loan circulation increased by 5%, from 2,890 borrowed resources in 2006 to 3,032 in 2007 – the highest year-end total on record.  In the same time frame, electronic loan orders rose from 145 to 222, an increase of 53%.

In addition to loans, September 2006 marked the beginning of the Resource Centre’s e-commerce service when Mennonite Publishing Network (MPN) became the flagship seller. From September 1 to December 31, 2006, 32 customers purchased MPN items through the Resource Centre.  This increased to 51 over the same period in 2007 – a jump of 59%. 

“We’re starting small, but we’re on a growth trajectory,” notes Friesen Epp. “People are discovering that they can do their on-line browsing and shopping in one place.”  

Circulation and online activity are not the only sources of Resource Centre growth.  In 2007 three new partnerships were established with other Mennonite resource providers; Pandora Press, Mennonite Foundation of Canada, and SmallTall Music.  This adds to partnerships already in place with Mennonite Publishing Network and Cascadia Publishing House. Each partner supplies all their products through MC Canada’s Resource Centre for free preview loans.  More partnerships are in the works.  

The encouraging numbers prompted Friesen Epp and Anita Neufeld, Administrative Assistant, to launch the first annual Resource Centre Downey Awards Gala to recognize the most downloaded materials in 2007.  

With a good sense of fun, Friesen Epp and Neufeld donned bow tie and evening gloves respectively and welcomed MC Canada staff and guests to the event with a faux red carpeted entry and yogurt parfaits. A total of ten awards were presented in a variety of categories ranging from materials most loaned to those most downloaded.
“Remember our motto,” Friesen Epp coached the guests as he rhythmically led a chant of the Centre’s mantra: “Borrow, purchase, download, link.”

Last year was the first time the Resource Centre had the ability to track downloads from its online catalogue and Neufeld was grateful for the opportunity to announce the grand total to award ceremony attendees; 27,431 downloads in 2007.  “We’re not just a source for books and DVDs, but we make available a lot of material on-line [for download],” she said.

The Resource Centre offers hundreds of items for downloading, including various book, video, and audio titles, helpful congregational items that appear in Equipping, Human Resource/Finance policies such as salary guidelines for pastors, pastoral leadership materials, MC Canada publications, children’s stories, worship resources, sermons, Church Matters podcasts, and more.

Currently, Friesen Epp is testing the idea of an online “resource consortium.” Together with other Canadian Mennonite resource providers, the consortium would allow visitors to search a variety of inter-connected databases from any one of the connected websites. If that happens, Neufeld anticipates that she will have to keep her evening gloves around for the next event.

But Friesen Epp is already convinced. Ten months from now he will begin planning the 2008 Downey Awards.

Sidebar: 2007 Downey Award Winners

Top categories/downloads:

  1. Presentation/Seminar:
    Missional Ecclesiology and Leadership” by Robert J. Suderman
  2. Special Sunday worship resource:
    2007 Missions Sunday by MC Canada Witness
  3. Church Matters Podcast:
    Militarization, Canada and the Church; an interview with Robert J. Suderman
  4. Executive Staff Letter:
    Women Pastors: Are We Practicing what We Preach? by Sven Eriksson
  5. From Our Churches:
    Christmas Eve Candlelight Service by Lynette Wiebe
  6. Newsletter:
    February 2007 Resource Update
  7. File with the most hits:
    Wake Up to God’s Dream by Elsie Rempel

Top three loan items:

  1. Fun Bible Skits, Volume 1 by David M. Morrow (Faith and Life Resources) – Ready-to-go scripts and activities for children and congregations
  2. Mennonite Your Way by Jay and Glola Basler (Mennonite Your Way) – A cost-effective hospitality and Travel Directory connecting travelers with Mennonites, Brethren and other Christians in over 50 countries.
  3. God with Us Today by June Galle Krehbiel (Faith and Life Resources) a family devotional