By Chris Moon
Jim Lloyd is facing the challenge of a lifetime.
The longtime librarian at the now-closed Cincinnati Christian University has been tasked with preparing the school’s George Mark Elliott Library—all 150,000 print volumes as well as a large archival collection—for relocation.
So far, Lloyd and some volunteers have filled 750 boxes with books. It’s likely to take 10,000 boxes to move it all. And after the library eventually is moved, the contents must be unpacked and reshelved.
“It’s just a Herculean task,” Lloyd told Christian Standard. “It’s almost more than I can bear to think about sometimes.”
And the most perplexing thing about this relocation is that Lloyd and other supporters of the library don’t yet know where it eventually will end up. No final resting spot for the library—either a physical building or a permanent owner—has been nailed down.
“Things are still a lot more up in the air than where I thought they would be at this point in time,” Lloyd said.
A LOT OF UNKNOWNS
Technically speaking, the contents of the old CCU library still belong to the university as it winds down its operations. Classroom instruction ended in December. Many of the school’s assets, including the campus, will be sold to cover the university’s debts.
The hope of many CCU supporters is the library contents will be saved and continue to be accessible somewhere in the Cincinnati area. Another hope is that the newly created Christian Church Leadership Foundation—a nonprofit organization fashioned in December by Central Christian College of the Bible in Moberly, Mo.—will be able to steward the library into the future.
The foundation already is shepherding two former CCU assets—the Russell School of Ministry and the Christian Church Leadership Network.
“We’re doing the best we can to keep those related ministries together in Cincinnati,” said David Fincher, president of Central Christian College of the Bible.
Already, the CCLF has raised funds to cover the cost of maintaining the library while its future ownership status remains unresolved, Fincher said. That includes helping the library manage its database and putting Lloyd on the payroll as he prepares the library for relocation.
Lloyd said he hopes the library will serve someday to support the Russell School of Ministry—as well as to support the extension sites of other Restoration Movement colleges in the Cincinnati area.
But so much remains unknown at the moment—like where the library will move to, and when it will move. It could be months before things are ironed out completely.
“All I can do is just move forward in the process of getting everything boxed up,” Lloyd said.
The work has been difficult for Lloyd, who has been the librarian at CCU for 35 years.
Lloyd, 70, said he should be retired by now. He said his wife would have liked that.
But after maintaining the library for so long—and accepting collections given to the library by former professors, as well as managing significant historical artifacts from the Restoration Movement—Lloyd just can’t bring himself to walk away.
“I want to be able to stabilize the situation and make this work,” he said.
Fincher had nothing but praise for Lloyd.
“Jim Lloyd embodies a part of the CCU story that, sadly, quit being told,” Fincher said, noting that much commentary during the fallout from CCU’s closure has centered on the university’s leadership and financial condition. “The thing they quit talking about were the dedicated employees who were in it for the good of the Lord and the kingdom. And he’s one of them.”
And Lloyd is still in it.
Lloyd said volunteers—from church groups and CCU alumni—have helped with boxing up the library’s contents. It’s a tedious process, trying to make sure everything remains in order even as it goes into boxes that are then labeled with call numbers.
Someday, those hundreds of boxes will be loaded onto a truck and taken to a new home.
Part of the challenge today is managing the volunteers, Lloyd said. If too many of them show up at one time, it can lead to chaos.
Chris Moon is a pastor and writer living in Redstone, Colorado.