Library (how to use)

The library of the Bethesda Friends Meeting is a collection of more than 1,000 books and other items. Many subjects are represented, but the collection is primarily concerned with the life of the spirit and especially with Quakerism. Adult members and attenders, young readers, and children may borrow items before and after Meeting for Worship on Sundays.

November 2016 Library Update
Stop by and check out the newly reorganized library. We have something to interest and inform you!
  • We’ve dedicated shelves to resources for newcomers, BFM authors, and new acquisitions.
  • We’ve prominently displayed our old favorites and books related to current social concerns.
  • Our Spiritual Journey CDs offer a way to connect with others in the meeting and share their spiritual insights.
Goals for 2017
  • Update our online catalogue (LibraryThing)
    • Please check your bookshelves to see if you have any books to return to the library. Many are outstanding so we will wait until December to begin updating LibraryThing, which can be accessed by a link on the meeting website.
  • Build our collection with both books and e-books.
    • We’d like to hear from you if you have suggestions for new resources. Bethesda Friends are currently involved in the Black Lives Matter movement, global warming concerns, parenting and the nurturing of children, and economic justice, to name a few. Contact the acting librarian, Barbara James, if you can suggest current and relevant books on these or other topics that are of interest to our Quaker community.

Book organization: Most of the 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· The divisions represented in the Meeting library are as follows:

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

Special Collections

  • The corner bookcase to the left as you face the wall closest to the Sidwell Friends Lower School holds pamphlets from the series published by the Pendle Hill Quaker Center for Study and Contemplation, featured books, and a variety of other resources.
  • The corner bookcase to the right holds children’s picture books.
  • Shelves nearby hold books for young readers.
  • The glass-front cabinet holds special collections.

Locating an item on site

You can browse freely and make your selection or use the printed alphabetical listing of the collection (located where you see the “Check Out Here” sign near the door to the front hall)

Locating an item online via the searchable online catalog

  1. Click on the link to the online catalog at: (or paste the URL into your browser). A list, starting with the most recently cataloged items, will appear.
  2.  You can browse the list or use the highlightedSearch” box on the second line at the upper right corner of the page. A drop-down menu to the right of the box allows you to define your search. Type one or more keywords into the highlighted “Search” box. A list of the items identified by the search function will appear. [Note: the "search site" box in the uppermost right corner searches the entire LibraryThing website.]
  3.  When you have found an item that interests you, click on its title. When the main page appears, click on “Details” on the left side of the page to display more bibliographic information about the item.
  4. For most of the selections, the “Details” page provides a Dewey number that can be used to locate the item on the library shelf. If no Dewey number appears in the LibraryThing record, you will find it in the printed alphabetical listing in the library. (We are in the process of checking every LibraryThing record to add or correct its Dewey number as necessary.)

Pendle Hill Pamphlets

The library has a collection of more than 200 Pendle Hill Pamphlets, which are shelved by the pamphlet’s number on corner shelves in the library.

  1. To look at the entire series of over 400 Pendle Hill Pamphlets on the Pendle Hill website, click on this link: You can browse their online store, which includes every Pendle Hill pamphlet ever published. You can also click the following link to view or search a Word document index that downloads onto your computer. This Word document is an index of pamphlets (1934-2015) sorted numerically, by author, by title, and by subject. The index that downloads provides information about each pamphlet, including its number.
  2. When you have the number of the pamphlet you are looking for, check on the BFM library shelf to see if we have a copy.
  3. To check the pamphlet out of the BFM library, use the same procedure described below for checking out a book.
  4. If the library does not currently have the pamphlet you are looking for, we encourage you to contact a member of the Library Committee to recommend that the library acquire it.

Borrowing and san item

To borrow an item from the library

  • remove the item’s card (usually behind the back cover),
  • sign your name on the card, and
  • place it in the card file near the “Check Out Here” sign.

Items should be returned where you see the “Return Here” sign in the same area. Please do not return items to the shelves.

Digital Resources for Quakerism  

Earlham's Digital Quaker Collection contains the full text of over 500 Quaker works from the 17th and 18th centuries, including works by George Fox, William Penn, Robert Barclay, Margaret Fell, and many others. The collection is searchable by title and keyword, or you can browse a list of works alphabetically by author. The site also links to a number of other online resources for Quaker texts.

Ad Hoc Committee on the Future of the Library Committee

In June 2016, the Ad Hoc Committee on the Future of the Library Committee was charged with “helping the Meeting discern the best way forward in structuring the [Library] Committee so as 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.

The ad hoc Committee report is available in both a short and a longer format:
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 of the Religious Society of Friends
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