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Resource Centre catching on


February 19, 2010
-Deborah Froese

WINNIPEG, Manitoba — Borrow, purchase, download, link. The mantra of Mennonite Church Canada’s Resource Centre seems to be catching on.

For the past three years, the Resource Centre has kept track of those using their electronic services.  Since 2007, downloading has almost quadrupled; reaching over 100,000 items downloaded this last year.  During the same time, book and DVD loan circulation has increased by 15%.

In 2009, over 500 individuals and groups borrowed material from the Resource Centre online – but that number represents only a fraction of those who use the resources. Friesen Epp noted that borrowed items are frequently shared with others, so one borrower may represent two or three actual users.

“The Resource Centre offers free delivery and return postage for Mennonite Church Canada individuals or congregations on books they borrow over the internet or by telephone,” said Friesen Epp. “Users are telling me that our online catalogue is simple and convenient – and free shipping of books lessens the geographic distance between us.”

Resource materials developed by Mennonite Church Canada were among the most downloaded items in 2009, including the worship service 2009 World Communion Sunday, which received the most hits for downloadable items.

“Downloadable materials are increasing in popularity,” noted Mennonite Church Canada Director of Communications Dan Dyck. “We can celebrate any increase in downloads and know that we are reaching more people both within and external to Mennonite Church Canada, but it’s important to consider some more broadly ranging implications,” he cautioned.  “The internet has fostered an online culture of getting things for free. Music and print publishing industries are struggling with how to compete with ‘free’ but the people who develop these materials still want to get paid.”

The most borrowed resource in 2009 was Reaching up to God Our Creator, a collection of materials developed by Mennonite Church Canada Native Ministry to highlight the common ground between Aboriginal Sacred Teachings and the Bible.  For the third year in a row, Christmas Eve Candlelight Service by Lynette Wiebe of Charleswood MC was the most downloaded item provided to the Resource Centre by a Mennonite Church Canada congregation.

Friesen Epp announced that over 800 new resources were added in 2009, including 175 new downloadable items. “We were very fortunate to receive two bequeaths, which aided in the purchase of quite a number of new items, including a variety of DVDs.” Materials selected for the Resource Centre support Mennonite Church Canada priorities and are not commonly available from other lending institutions.

Several online catalogue enhancements are planned for 2010, including a Resource Centre Consortium composed of the Mennonite Church Canada Resource Centre (Winnipeg), the Mennonite Brethren in Christ Resource Centre (Kitchener), Mennonite Church Eastern Canada (Kitchener) and Columbia Bible College (Abbotsford). Online linkages between Centres will make each of their resources more accessible to a wider constituency.  Friesen Epp said the Consortium should be operational by spring.

Reaching up to God extends reach


Various boxes that make up the Reaching up to God our Creator resource package
Reaching up to God Our Creator

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Reaching up to God Our Creator, a resource box developed by Mennonite Church Canada Native Ministry, is gaining popularity beyond Mennonite circles.  It has been sold to Catholic and Presbyterian church groups, a Spanish ministry and an athletic group. The product has been shipped to the U.S., South Africa and several First Nation communities. 

Created to foster understanding and respect between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities, this collection of materials highlights the common ground between Aboriginal Sacred Teachings and the Bible. Two of the books featured in the resource box, Maskipiton: Peace Chief of the Cree and The Teachings of the Sacred Tree, have been translated into Spanish and French. Spanish copies have gone to Canadian congregations as well as to Argentina and Paraguay, while French translations were sold to Quebec and France.

In 2009, Reaching up to God Our Creator was the item most borrowed from Mennonite Church Canada’s Resource Centre.  In addition to 21 loans to Mennonite churches across Canada, 30 complete boxes were sold.  Eleven of those have gone to other denominations and organizations and seven have been purchased by individuals. 

Several sales were made to other resource centres or organizations which plan to loan the boxes out and use them in a variety of settings,” says Arlyn Friesen Epp, Resource Centre Director.  “This will multiply the impact the effect those individual boxes can have.”