Bethesda Friends Meeting


The BFM Library houses a collection of more than 1,000 books, as well as other resources intended to support the growth, interests, and activities of the Meeting community. 

1. Mission Statement

The mission of the BFM Library is defined as providing relevant resources that support the Meeting’s spiritual development and activities, build community in areas of shared concerns and interests, and reflect Quaker principles and practices.  To achieve that, the Library Committee seeks to maintain, grow, and prune the collection to keep it dynamic and accessible; promote the active use of the library to meet the evolving needs of the Meeting; support educational efforts within the Meeting and interact with other Meeting groups; and be alert to new technology and digital resources to best accomplish its mission.

We welcome new members to the committee as well as input from all meeting participants as we seek to carry out our  mission.  If you would like to join the Library Committee, please click on the link to the Library Committee Handbook for additional information or speak to any member. 

2. How can I find books or resources in the library?

When you are at Meeting, you can always just browse the shelves for their riches.  Or, if you have a particular goal in mind, you can use the printed catalog of the resources available in the General Collection (sorted, by title, author, and subject), Children’s Collection, Young Readers’ Collection, and Digital Collection. The catalog may be found on the shelf behind the Book Table.

The General Collection is organized using the Dewey Decimal System, and most of the books are shelved in the order of their Dewey numbers (located on or near the spine). The shelves are labeled according to main divisions of the Dewey System, of which the library includes:

  • 100s Philosophy & Psychology
  • 200s Religion (289 is Quakerism)
  • 300s Social Sciences
  • 500s Science
  • 600s Technology
  • 800s Literature
  • 900s History & Biography

We have grouped some books and resources on special shelves for easy access.  Topical shelves may change over time to reflect what is most present to the meeting community. 

  • Currently, we have special shelves for new book Acquisitions and books by BFM Authors, as well as shelves that focus on books for Parents, Newcomers to BFM and Quakerism, a Children’s Collection and a Young Readers’ Collection.  
  • Resources on Aging, Illness, and Death (many recommended by the Pastoral Care Committee’s Solace and Support Group) are on a special shelf and listed here.  
  • The books read by the BFM Quaker Book Group are housed on a special shelf. Click here for a list of our selections since 2014.  The Library also has a binder with summaries of all the book group's discussions.
  • A set of 400+ pamphlets from the series published by the Pendle Hill Quaker Center for Study and Contemplation may be found in the corner bookcase at the left end of the outer wall facing the courtyard. For more information on the pamphlet series and how to access specific issues, please click here
  • In the corner bookcase at the right end of that wall, you will find picture books for young children. Please feel free to use these books during meeting or coffee hour.   
  • The glass-front cabinet holds some audio and video resources that are also available to borrow, including CDs of the spiritual journeys of BFM members.  

3. How can I look for a book in the Library from home?

You can search the collection online here []. 

  • Instructions about using the online search tool are here.   
  • The online catalog will give you the Dewey number for any books you are interested in, so you can find them on the shelves the next time you visit the BFM Library.  

4. How do I borrow and return library books?

In-Person at the Meeting House

·        Remove the item’s card (usually behind the back cover).

·        Write your name, the date you borrowed the material, and your phone number on the card.

·        Place it in the card file near the “Check Out Here” sign.

Please note the date you borrow the material.  The Library Committee suggests borrowing materials for three weeks. If you need to keep the materials longer, you may. Return the materials where you see the “Return Here” sign in the same area. Please do not return items to the shelves.  

Distance Lending

Bethesda Friends Meeting is committed to accessibility of the library collection. We encourage all members and attenders to take advantage of distance lending if interested.

  • Identify desired resources from the library catalog.  
  • Email the librarian and clerk of the library committee  to request the desired materials.
    • Please include the following information in the request
    • Your name, telephone number, and mailing address
    • A list of the titles and authors of the materials requested
  • You will receive an email reply confirming titles available, and the committee will send the resources via the United States Postal Service.
  • The response will indicate the expected delivery date for the materials.
  • Return instructions will be included with the materials.
  • Please confirm with the librarian and library committee clerk via email when you receive materials so that we will know they arrived.
  • The borrowing period for mailed materials is three weeks from date of receipt. Please mail materials back within this timeframe using the return instructions provided. If you need to keep the materials longer, please contact the committee clerk and librarian to make arrangements.

Please contact the librarian and clerk of the library committee with any questions about distance lending.

Return Instructions for Materials Borrowed via Distance Lending
Please return resources to the address below using the United States Postal Service Media Mail service. 

Bethesda Friends Meeting

c/o Library Committee

P.O. Box 30152

Bethesda MD 20824 

Once materials are shipped back, please email the librarian and the library committee clerk so that we will know to look out for the delivery. We will send a confirmation email when the materials are received.    

5. What other digital resources can I access online?

We are striving to connect to the growing array of resources for learning about Quakerism and related topics to extend beyond our physical collection.  As we hear about valuable resources, we will add more links in this section.

6. How is the Library managed?

The collection is overseen by the BFM Librarian and the Library Committee.  The BFM Librarian is an ex officio member of the Committee.  The Committee includes a clerk and at least one additional member. The duties and responsibilities of the Library Committee members are outlined in our Handbook.   

7. Are book donations welcome?BFM Book table

The Library Committee always appreciates Friends’ donations of books in good condition, especially hard-to-obtain Quaker titles.  Space is quite limited, however, so we have to be selective.  In deciding what we can accept, we consider how an item offered to us fits with the library’s mission statement, what its condition is, and whether we already have a copy.  Please provide a list of the proffered items rather than dropping off boxes of books.  

8. How can I learn more about the history of the BFM Library and about plans for its future?

Documents show that the meeting had a library as early as 1965, while BFM was still a Preparative Meeting (although at first the library was just a cart stored under the stage in the Groome Building -- Learn more in Bethesda Friends Meeting: The First 25 Years, available in the library).  In the early years, the library grew mostly through donation of books by members.  It has come a long way since then!

In June 2016, an Ad Hoc Committee on the Future of the Library Committee formed in order to consider the structure of the Library Committee and ways to “protect and develop the resources of the library and to maximize its usefulness to the community.”  The members of the Committee were Barbara James, Rick Morgan, Dean Pruitt (Clerk), and Leslie Sussan.  Its final report, which has informed the work of the Library Committee ever since, is here.

Future directions for the library include finding new ways to connect the meeting to library resources (such as book reviews, announcements, articles), increasing input from committees and interest groups to help build the collection, and discovering how to best find and share digital and multimedia resources.  You can be a part of these plans in many ways from making suggestions to joining the committee!  We need lots of different people and viewpoints to make our library the best it can be!  Please use the "contact us" form if you'd like to help or need additional information. 

Bethesda Friends Meeting

Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 30152, Bethesda MD 20824

Our Meetinghouse is on the campus of the Sidwell Friends Lower School at the intersection of Edgemoor Lane and Beverly Road in Bethesda, Maryland

We are a member organization of the Religious Society of Friends
Contact Us

 | Login | Logout

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software