SIDNEY — Area families looking for holiday DVDs and books may be overlooking a source that could be called one of Sidney’s best kept secrets.
The Peter’s Pense library, 209 N. Ohio Ave., has a large selection of items which anyone can borrow at no charge. Among their offerings are DVDs, CDs and books for children, as well as adults.
The library focuses on Catholic-themed literature and videos, but also offers some mainstream items, like the movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and Christmas stories by best-selling children’s author, Tomie DePaola.
Peter’s Pense is a nonprofit organization, run entirely by volunteers. It was begun 26 years ago by Marianne Wagner, who donated her extensive personal collection of religious literature to the library and served as its director for several years. Diane Kellner then volunteered as director until she had to resign a few years ago for health reasons.
Now, 20 people take turns keeping the doors open for all interested patrons.
“Marianne wanted a place where people could learn about Catholic teachings and why they teach it,” said Mary Schmiesing, of Sidney, one of the library’s regular volunteers. “This is a place where people can find out the theology, practices, devotions, our history.”
The name “reflects the fact that the library will provide the thought (pense) of Peter (the Magisterium),” says an organization brochure. Peter was one of Jesus’ apostles and was the first pope of the Catholic church.
“The purpose of Peter’s Pense is to provide materials containing Catholic teaching, history and practices as well as family-oriented materials which conform to Christian values. The library is open to all and intends to serve the people in Sidney and surrounding communities,” the brochure says.
“What a wonderful resource this is for converts to the Catholic faith and people thinking about converting to the Catholic church,” said Lee Carman, of Sidney, a volunteer who had spent the weekend decorating the library for the holiday season. Garlands of greens surround creches on the tops of bookcases; small evergreen trees anchor two comfortable sofas in the reading area; angel figurines float in clouds of ribbons.
“We have books that explain the difficult parts of the faith,” Schmiesing said. “It’s not making a commitment when you come here. You can just read.”
The Rev. David Zink, now of the Northstar parish, helped organizers when the library was forming its mission.
“(He gave) us publishing houses we can trust. During his tenure at Holy Angels, he helped us in discerning what materials we have, like how much fiction we have. There’s some very good fiction, but we don’t have much because it doesn’t fit our mission. But everything here is a work in progress,” Schmiesing said.
There is no formal association with Holy Angels or any of the other area Catholic churches. Notices of the library’s hours are included in church bulletins and sometimes, when would-be converts contact the church, the library is named as a source for information about the faith. There are teachers at Lehman Catholic High School and Holy Angels who will occasionally direct students to the library for research projects.
Patrons who wish to borrow materials are asked to complete a brief application for a library card. Items may be taken for two weeks, but “we have a liberal renewing policy,” Schmiesing said.
She hopes that area residents will avail themselves of materials during the advent season that leads up to Christmas.
“During advent, we have some wonderful feast days,” she said. “We have lots of advent and Christmas resources for families to use.”
Julie Linson, of Sidney, a Peter’s Pense board member, and her children, Logan, 10, Calvin, 8, and Emma, 4, visited the library Monday. They found seats at the back of the room where Linson could quietly read aloud to the youngsters.
“The main part of our mission is to be here for people to explore,” Schmiesing said. “The other part is to have things for families. You don’t have to worry about anything you get here.”
“It’s overwhelming what you can learn if you take the time,” Carman said.
Peter’s Pense is open Tuesday-Thursday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday from 6 to 7:30 p.m., Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon. For information, call 492-6481.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4824. Follow her on Twitter @PASpeelmanSDN.