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: 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

Library Learnings: Meet the author, appreciate more the book—#2: Joan Chittister…Krista Tippett…Elizabeth MacLaren

Note: This is the second in a series of writings intended to acquaint you with authors…really interesting authors…of books to be found in the SSUC Library, and to pique your interest in reading their works. Three writers, each a woman, but each very different from the other two. Three books—one written by each of these women—each addressing the same phenomenon,

Featured Book: Living the Quaker Way: Timeless Wisdom for a Better Life Today

As you read Living the Quaker Way, it may dawn on you that you are…surprise!…a Friend, at heart. As he explains on his website, Philip Gulley, a Quaker pastor in Indiana for 30 years, invites readers “to encounter the defining commitments of the Religious Society of Friends—simplicity, peace, integrity, community, and equality, and shows how these ideals can be incorporated in

Featured Book: Believer on Sunday, Atheist by Thursday: Is Faith Still Possible?

“Ron Byars should receive a citation for honesty,” esteemed theologian Walter Brueggemann reckons, this in his take on Believer on Sunday, Atheist by Thursday; in this recent book [2019], its author is “pulling no punches,” he adds. As when Byars writes, disarmingly, “When we try to explain it [our faith], we cannot help being very much aware that our explanations might not actually explain

Featured Book: Christ for Unitarian Universalists: A New Dialogue with Traditional Christianity

Many Unitarian Universalists, it’s said, “feel they are too UU to be Christian”. Scotty McLennan isn’t one of them. Thus his 2016 book, Christ for Unitarian Universalists. Not that he’s missionizing: “Rather than proselytize, Christ for UUs seeks to stimulate dialogue about Jesus Christ, whether or not we find him central to our faith life,” its publisher explains. And, as the book’s study guide

Featured Book: Night

Night, Elie Wiesel’s memoir-and-novel-in-one, tells the story of a boy surviving the Nazi concentration camps only to be, as the Chicago Public Library puts it, “devastated by the realization that the God he once worshipped had allowed his people to be destroyed.” “…in the blackest of nights,” an Emel Magazine review has it, “faith is a force of will.” “With striking bluntness and clarity,”

Featured Book: On the Brink of Everything: Grace, Gravity & Getting Old

A while ago, Parker Palmer’s On the Brink of Everything served as the focus of an adult study at SSUC. With reason. According to infed.org, Palmer has “touched many people through his work. In that old Quaker phrase, he has been able to speak to their condition.” In his book, the “religious educator in a broad sense,” as Biola University calls him, reflected on

Featured Book: Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith

“Hello, I’m Barbara Brown Taylor. I say things you’re not supposed to say.” It’s with these words that the “spiritual contrarian” [her words] welcomes you to her website. And one of the things she wasn’t supposed to say is “goodbye” to ministry. She recounts her breakout—an “often-painful, if ultimately redemptive, journey away from pastoring,” according to Religious News Service—in her