Location and Times


Welcome to the SSUC Library page. Please visit the library in the main floor lounge of our building, browse the shelves, grab a cup of coffee and settle in for a read, or borrow a book and bring it back when you’re done. Would you like to browse the catalogue from home? See the Title catalogue here; the Author catalogue here; and the Reference books catalogue here. In the meantime, get introduced to a new book: read a preview of a featured book every two weeks, written by our librarians. Enjoy

“The idyll of living in a library”


Introducing the SSUC Library’s collection

Ever dream of living in a penthouse suite, perhaps atop the Stantec Tower, Edmonton’s tallest building? Or maybe you‘d wish to call an Irish castle “home”, or a manor house in the English countryside. What about a glass-fronted chalet overlooking the Big Sur coast, or a log lodge-home below the pinnacles in Teton County, Wyoming, the richest county in America? 

But living in a library—now that’s a notion that never crossed your mind, right? We’re not talking about working 9 to 5 in such a place, as a librarian; or visiting one to borrow a book—we all do that. No, we mean eating three meals every day in one, bedding down for the night, doing all your morning ablutions there—living in one, 24/7. 

Just think, there’d be books all around, all the time. Like the print version of “surround sound”. Why, you could curl up on the coach each night with a different one, or do so in bed. Crack the covers, and read the opening sentence: does it grab you? Can you not put it down? “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” No? Maybe, instead, “Call me Ishmael.” Hey, here’s one no church-goer, such as yourself, could neglect: “In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.”

Once upon a time, folks really did live in libraries. As recently as the 1970s and ‘80s. At least in New York City. All thanks to industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. About a century ago, he gave the Big Apple $1.2 million—worth well over $100 million today—to create a city-wide system of libraries. Ever after known as the Carnegie Libraries, these branches of NYC’s public library were heated by coal, so each required a live-in custodian tasked with keeping the fires burning. Typically, they lived on site, these employees, in top-floor apartments, often with their families.  

Once the coal furnaces were upgraded, however, the apartments emptied out, “and the idyll of living in a library has disappeared,” Sarah Laskow reported in a piece for Atlas Obscura, this in October, 2016. Mostly, these spaces have been “absorbed back into the buildings through renovations for more modern uses. Today there are just 13 library apartments left in the New York Public Library system.” 

Mind you, as she added, this after visiting the one in the Fort Washington branch that had not yet been repurposed, “In today’s New York real estate market, this apartment is not unappealing. Yes, it would need cleaning and modernizing before anyone moved in. …But…it’s in a library.” Golly, “walking upstairs in a well-used building, and finding an empty floor, feels like being in on a great secret.”  

Even though living life in a library may be, as Ms. Laskow has it, an “idyll,” we two—we who are your librarian here at SSUC—are not suggesting that you countenance us moving lock, stock, and barrel into our church’s Library & Lounge…though it is an inviting space, and not used incessantly, and we could sleep late on Sunday mornings and still be in church on time. No. We simply want to draw your attention to this space and what you’ll find there: works that seekers in particular should find soul-satisfying. Drop in…once the pandemic eases its grip…and see for yourself. 

The collection—of about 700 books, of ideas—explores religion, church, spirituality, theology, faith, doubt, values, beliefs, Jesus, God and gods, and all such things. These are writings to be pored over and pondered, weighed and wondered about. And valued. 

The classics are present and accounted for, everything from The Confessions of St. Augustine to Martin Buber’s I and Thou. There are works written by such luminaries as Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Northrop Frye, Abraham Heschel, Albert Schweitzer, Paul Tillich, and Simone Weil. Others will acquaint you with such great church figures as John Wesley and Hildegard of Bingen. There are plays—The Trial of God by Elie Wiesel, and Lucas Hnath’s The Christians. Progressive Christianity pioneers like Jack Spong and Lloyd Geering penned still other of the volumes. Consider Karen Armstrong’s The Case for God, but also Richard Dawkins’ refutation in The God Delusion.

On the shelves you’ll come upon the Iona Abbey Worship Book, Bible atlases, an eco-foods guide, An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, self-help books, including lots on loss and grieving by the likes of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, even Nancy Steeves’ doctoral thesis. There’s fiction, too: challenge yourself and read Nikos Kazantzakis’ controversial The Last Temptation of Christ, and Putting Away Childish Things, the novel that, as one reviewer put it, “flows out of Marcus Borg’s life.” There are books about the Earth Charter, LGBTQ concerns, the Dead Sea Scrolls, fundamentalism, myths and mythology, bullying, preaching, sexism, the labyrinth, mid-life crises, evolution, Christmas, human rights and humanism, feminist theology, Buddha, Islam, justice, the parables, prayer, Christian ethics, Celtic wisdom, parenting, sin, eternal life, shamanism. Whoa, catch you breath.

Discover The Lost Gospel of Judas Iscariot; read how Jesus became Christian, and also God; see why No Man is an Island; explore The World of Anne Frank; join in The Battle for God, or play Hide and Seek with God, or go along with SSUC’s Clair Woodbury Looking for God; go In Search of Paul; learn how to love nature; spend The Last Week with Jesus; get acquainted with the Middle East; ask, Can We Trust the New Testament?; ask also The Great Questions of Life; meet The Pagan Christ; find faith, peace, the right words, your way home, and your religion. Why, You Can Teach Yourself Philosophy of Religion. And this litany of authors, titles, and topics, only scratches the surface!

Along with handfuls of DVDs and videos, all this is waiting to be browsed and borrowed; what’s not to be circulated are the slim number of reference works. The collection is housed in bookcases in SSUC’s Library & Lounge—it’s the inviting room off the foyer, on the right as you enter the church. Everything has been ordered and shelved, arranged by author, from A (Abbott, Deborah) to Z (Zuckerman, Andrew).

Book-borrowing has been made as easy as can be: you’ll find lists, both by author and title, in a binder atop the first of the bookcases; as well, these can be accessed on the Library’s webpage (ssucedmonton.com/library), so you can pick and choose what you’ll want right from home. Simply sign out the books using the in-and-out form—it’s in the same binder; later on, please be sure to note on the form the date you return the items you’ll have borrowed, and place them in the basket atop the second bookcase. It’s pretty much grab and go!

So, please, get going!

Ellen & Ken Fredrick


Featured Book: Faith After Doubt: Why Your Beliefs Stopped Working and What to Do About It

Christianity requires “a new set of values and deeper spiritual narratives,” Brian McLaren avows in his latest book, Faith After Doubt. “And we need forward-leaning faith communities to nourish these values and narratives….” He might as well be pointing up SSUC! Emergence Christianity is progressive Christianity for evangelicals, and McLaren has become one of its lynchpins. Those in that circle who remain

Featured Book: The View from the Center of the Universe: Discovering Our Extraordinary Place in the Cosmos

Once upon a time, the ancients thought that they, and their little corner of the earth, were at the centre of the universe: everything—like those lights in the night sky—revolved around them. In his scienceshelf.com review of this Featured Book, physicist Fred Bortz observes, “Older cosmologies not only placed people at the physical centre of the universe, but at the spiritual centre,

Library Learnings: God is the Good We Do

Michael Benedikt: Whether or not God exists is entirely up to you “God,” Bernard Lonergan once warranted, “is the unrestricted act of understanding, the eternal rapture, glimpsed in every Archimedean cry of ‘Eureka’.” This discernment—these “remarkable words,” to quote Anglican priest, theoretical physicist, and theologian, John Polkinghorne—appear on page 684 of Insight (which is volume 3 of the projected 25-volume Collected Works of Bernard Lonergan), which Google

Featured Book: Jesus Would Demand a Green New Deal

Not only does author Jonathan Barker want the world to clean up its act, he’s sure Jesus would, too. Thus his book, Jesus Would Demand a Green New Deal.  Two years ago, Barker, cleric and activist, made headlines when he went on a 12-day hunger strike in order to call attention to the push by members of the House of

Featured Book: Ten Makers of Modern Protestant Thought

In this tiny book—it’s 122 pages, and measures just 4-1/4” x 6”—editor George Hunt introduces the lay reader to 10 “pioneers” who opened “new trails of exploration,” and who exerted “the strongest influence on the course of Protestantism” in the first half of the last century: Schweitzer, Rauschenbusch, Temple, Kierkegaard, Barth, Brunner, Niebuhr, Tillich, Bultmann, and the Jewish thinker Martin

Featured Book: Belief in God in an Age of Science

John Polkinghorne calls science and theology “intellectual cousins,” because, as questionsoftruth.org explains, both are “concerned with interpreted experience, and with the quest for reality itself.” In its take on Sir John’s classic Belief in God in an Age of Science, Princeton University Press puts it this way, citing St. Anslem’s famous axiom: “’Faith seeking understanding’ is, according to Polkinghorne, like the scientific quest.”  Certainly, the author knows

Featured Book: In Your Loving is Your Knowing: Elizabeth Templeton – Prophet of Our Times

In Your Loving is Your Knowing is an anthology of 33 unpublished wide-ranging writings and addresses of the late Elizabeth Templeton, who dymocks.com.au calls “one of the most outstanding theologians of her time.” All combine “brilliant original scholarship with a warm sensitivity to the difficulties of many people in…relating it [theology] to their own life and thought.” It’s as the Herald of

Featured Book: Testing Tradition and Liberating Theology: Finding Your Own Voice

“Some church people say that what you do is more important than what you believe, but I can’t buy that,” Val Webb once declared in an interview with Australia’s journeyonline.com.au, “because what you believe is going to influence what you do.” She, on a speaking tour in England, affirmed for pcnbritain.org.uk, “All of us have to…find a working theology that can function in

Featured Book: The Other Side of the River: From Church Pew to Sweat Lodge

The Other Side of the River: From Church Pew to Sweat Lodge In The Other Side of the River, United Church of Canada minister Alf Dumont, whose mother was Anishinaabe, shares “what it can mean to be Indigenous and Christian.” The book is a meandering, story-filled account of the author’s spiritual journey: “It has not been an easy journey”. But it began early: “I

Featured Book: The God Confusion: Why Nobody Knows the Answer to the Ultimate Question

In the October, 2013, issue of Bloomsbury Philosophy News, philosopher Gary Cox answers an interviewer’s question, “How would you describe The God Confusion in one sentence?” In its quest after God, it is, he replies, a “clear, no-nonsense explanation of why agnosticism is the only credible philosophical position….” An honorary research fellow at the UK’s University of Birmingham, Cox “sets out