Pagan Librarian

thinking about libraries and information from a pagan perspective

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Return of the Pagan Librarian

Posted by Pagan Librarian on January 6, 2015

After a too-long hiatus, I am excited to share: circumstances have changed and I now have time to return to the site and take up old projects.

To solidify and celebrate, I purchased the domain and the site is now a “more official” .com! It’s the little things, right? During my absence, I continued to collect and archive emails, links and info, and for the last few days, it has been a joy to finally go through them, skimming them for info and now being able to DO something with them; to share the info, to make it useful; to hopefully create something new and contribute to a bigger-picture something.

If during this last long break you submitted a request for information and received no response – my apologies for failing your expectations. By now, you may have found the information on your own, or else it no longer may not be any good to you – but I still would like to follow through and take the time to search and research what I can to answer your queries, and will post my findings here on the blog. It is good exercise and challenge for me as I get back into the swing, and others may find interest and/or benefit.

With the site becoming active again, I look forward to new interactions, new challenges and new exchanges of information and sharing of ideas and more.

Posted in Announcement | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Notes from Reference Interview Training

Posted by Pagan Librarian on February 23, 2013

This week I attended a day-long seminar about the “Reference Interview,” or, the process of how we librarians figure out exactly what it is you’re looking for. Being well-acclamated from the point of my professional job allowed me to free up my mind to think about the seminar from the “Pagan Librarian” blog perspective. Below are my jumble of notes and food for thought, posted here more for my own use than my readers. But if something sparks an idea, comment, feedback, or inquiry, I’d love to hear it!

“Every library serves a distinct community. The decisions we make should be based on the community we serve.” How to best serve the Pagan community. What are the information needs of the Pagan community? What are they looking for, what do they want to know?

We used to be information isolated… materials not widely known of or available. How has that changed today? Now we are bombarded, how to sort through to find credible, reliable, useful, relevant, important works?

Purpose for the Blog/ of the Librarian

  1. Information Literacy; instruct in the ways of the library; instruct how to use the library (to locate pagan-related information/material)
  2. Answer Queries/Questions
  3. Aid in the selection of good/reliable/credible works; Readers Advisory services
  4. Promote the library in the (Pagan) community; Outreach and Marketing.

Topic: Barriers to asking for help to seek information
Do you feel comfortable asking someone to help you locate Pagan-related material? Who do you go to for information, why and why not?
Physical barriers – lack of computers access, materials, or resource locations (storefronts, library, etc). Distance
Psychological barriers – local demographic, stigma, fear of social judgement (how prevalent is this still?), fear of failure or admitting failure (“I couldn’t find it on my own, I must be stupid to have to ask for help”)

Also, website accessibility.

  • How did you conduct your research?
  • Where did you go, who helped you locate information?
  • What lengths did you go to find information
  • What would have made your research easier?
  • What sources/materials did you use, what databases?
  • What gaps do you feel exist in Pagan Studies? Where does more research need to be done?
  • What resources do we need?
  • What would you like to find?
  • What libraries carry the most pagan/religious material?
  • List of blogs, Twitter users, podcasts, websites, businesses
  • Where do you go to gather information: family, friends, organizations, library, personal experience, internet, bookstore (physical location or online)

Contact other librarians, authors, researchers, etc – phone or email interview.
Gathering food for thought; may or may not be a need; investigating, curiosity, shooting in the dark, gathering information, searching for a direction where I can be useful, focus my work.

Database creation – Citation database
This database would contain titles of books that have been cited by other works; would show how many times an author or title is cited in other works. Title, author, publisher, date, call #, multiple links to other titles as biography list. Source: begin with books in current personal library and cull through sources/bibliography lists in back.

Database creation – Pagan publication of journal/magazine articles
Ideally would be a resource containing digital copies of articles in Pagan publications, much like Academic OneFile, or Gale, etc. Title of article, author, publisher, magazine title, Issue, volume, Pagination, Date, Type (poetry, short article, feature article, column, interview, study, etc)
–Call Magazines – Are there digital versions available – through what source? Is it currently listed in database? Do you have an interest in being archived in a database? (Copyright also)
–Contact existing databases about their process of adding resources to their digital archives.

Digital scanner
Google Books
What vendors, publishers, etc, would be of interest to the Pagan community at library conferences?


Posted in Journal | 2 Comments »

Site Updates

Posted by Pagan Librarian on February 2, 2013

Posts This Week

  • Witches & Pagans Magazine Announces Two New Columnists
  • New Academic Journal Correspondences to print 1st Issue in June 2013

Readers Advisory Page

  • Publisher added: BBI Media

Web Resources

  • News added: Huffington Post Religion section

Posted in Updates | Leave a Comment »

New Academic Journal ‘Correspondences’ to print 1st Issue in June 2013

Posted by Pagan Librarian on January 30, 2013

Logo image for Academic Journal Correspondences

Editors: Jimmy Elwing and Aren Roukema

A new academic journal on the study of Western esotericism, Correspondences is a new, biannual online journal devoted to the academic study of Western esotericism. The journal seeks to create a public academic forum devoted to discussion and exposition of issues and currents in the field commonly known as ‘Western esotericism.’ The editors acknowledge that the use of “Western esotericism” as an umbrella term for a widely variant field of alternate scientific and religious ideas is problematic. Thus, articles related to esoteric currents from other global cultural centres may be accepted if a connection to alternative currents in “western culture” is implicitly established. The following list of areas of study is provided for clarification:

Alchemy, Anthroposophy, Astrology, Eco-spirituality, Esotericism in art, literature, and music, Freemasonry, Geomancy, Gnosticism, Hermeticism, Illuminism, Initiatory secret societies, Kabbalah, Magic, Mesmerism, Mysticism, Naturphilosophie, Neo-paganism, New Age, Occultism, Occulture, Paracelsianism, Rosicrucianism, Satanism, Spiritualism, Theosophy, Traditionalism, Ufology, Witchcraft.

Correspondences intends to promote a wide forum of interdisciplinary debate regarding such areas of study, and therefore does not require academic credentials as a prerequisite for publication. Students and non-affiliated academics are encouraged to join established researchers in submitting insightful, well-researched articles that offer new ideas, positions, or information to the field.

Call for Papers

We are currently accepting book reviews (max. 1500 words) and articles (5000-10000 words) for our first issue. The deadline for submission is February 28. Following a peer-review process, the first issue will be published June 1, 2013. Manuscripts should be submitted as per our submission guidelines, available at Please send your manuscript and any enquiries to

Posted in Announcement, Journal, News | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Witches & Pagans Magazine Announces Two New Columnists

Posted by Pagan Librarian on January 29, 2013

Witches & Pagans Magazine released this news for January:

I’m very excited to announce the addition of two new columnists at Witches&Pagans magazine with our upcoming spring issue “Element of Fire.” Contemplative Pagan, bard, and prolific blogger Teo Bishop is a regular contributor to HuffPost Religion and The Wild Hunt as well as the organizer of Solitary Druid Fellowship . In his new column “Letters in the Grove” (based on his popular blog Bishop in the Grove) Teo will responds to reader questions about authentic Pagan living.

 No one in contemporary Druidism (or the post-Peak Oil movement) could fail to notice the presence of philosopher, gadfly, and author John Michael Greer (featured in the cover interview of PanGaia #48.) His first book, Paths of Wisdom, appeared in 1996 and has been followed by more than thirty more nonfiction works since. Greer is the Grand Archdruid of the Ancient Order of Druids in America (AODA), a Druid Revival order founded in 1912, and also writes extensively on the future of industrial society at the end of the age of fossil fuels at his blog The Arch Druid Report. He brings his wit, wisdom, and penetrating eye on the foibles of the contemporary Pagan scene to Witches&Pagans with his new column “The Operative Druid.”

Congratulations to Bishop & Greer!

Posted in Announcement, Magazines, News | Leave a Comment »

Site Updates

Posted by Pagan Librarian on January 5, 2013

Author(s) Added:

  • Furie, Michael

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

2012 in review

Posted by Pagan Librarian on January 2, 2013

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 3,500 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 6 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Posted in News, Updates | Leave a Comment »

Site Updates

Posted by Pagan Librarian on December 22, 2012

Site Updates

Publishers Added:

  • Moon Books

Media Updates:

Pagan Authors Added:

  • Treadwill, Cat

New Posts:

Posted in Updates | Leave a Comment »

What books would you recommend to your Library?

Posted by Pagan Librarian on December 21, 2012

This week I posed the following question on Twitter:

What top 10 #pagan #witchcraft books would you recommend to your library as important to include in their collection? #libraries?

Below are the responses I received. What are your thoughts on the following recommendations? Are there any you would add or debate?

  • Mastering Witchcraft
  • Visual Magick by Jan Fries
  • Any of Deborah Blake’s A to Z books
  • Pop Goes the Witch edited by Fiona Horne. Great collection of essays.
  • Being Pagan by Ellen Everett Hopman
  • Stations of the Sun by Ronald Hutton
  • Collections of mythology, sagas, Eddas etc.
  • Drawing Down the Moon by Margot Adler
  • Her Hidden Children by Chas Clifton
  • Real Magic by Isaac Bonewits

Thank you to all who responded!
@bsidetomyheart, @Kmomma68, @Quadrivii, and @diana_rajchel, Regina DeMauro- Axel,

Posted in Pagan Library, Recommendations | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Finding Pagan Material: Public vs. University Libraries

Posted by Pagan Librarian on November 30, 2012

When looking for Pagan-related material, public and university libraries are go-to places. Keep in mind however, these two types of libraries collect for different purposes. Before you go searching through the stacks, to avoid frustration or disappointment, it’s important to know what it is you’re looking for.

Public Libraries

Public libraries are identified by having the words “public,” “district,” “community,” “area,” “memorial” or some other such communal word in the name of the library. They are typically named after their city or locale, or important local/historical figures.

A public library is all about the public –and for the most part (for better and worse), this translates to the majority. Public libraries are typically physically smaller facilities than universities (which, larger building size aside, can include anywhere from one to multiple library locations on campus). With significantly more limited storage space and funding, public libraries are all about getting the most bang for their buck, so their collection is going to be centered around what will get the most use. (Take note: the size of a collection of specialized material will be proportional to the size of a particular group in a given community. The smaller group of people of a particular interest, the smaller the quantity of material available for that particular interest)

What will get the most use with the public? Popular stuff. Popular, practical, ready-to-use stuff… meaning public libraries would be the go-to place for more familiar, “Blatant Pagan,” practical “Practicioner” titles. By “Blatant Pagan” I mean your catch-all, how-to books for spells, rituals, sabbats, tarot, runes, etc, and/or are usually penned by instantly recognizable, of household-fame authors (think Silver Ravenwolf, Ray Buckland, Starhawk, and Scott Cunningham).

A public library’s nonfiction collection is typically organized by the Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) system. (I say “typically” because there is a growing shift in changing this organization… some libraries are switching over to a more organic “book store” style of “topic browsing”) If your library’s using DDC, check out the “Nonfiction Whereabouts” section on the Reader’s Advisory page. This will help guide where you browse.

It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to periodically check out a library’s “book sale” collection. Just about every public library has a used books collection available for sale as a way to help fund the library and its special projects. Sometimes this collection is available for sale all-year long, sometimes a library will make an event out of it. But these collections are comprised of books in good condition that have either been removed from the library’s circulating collection due to age or lack of use, or books that people have donated to the library that didn’t make the cut to be included on the shelves. Prices are nominal – from anywhere from 5¢ to $1.50 you can purchase books.

University Libraries

University, or “Academic” libraries are identified as being facilities located on a large college or university campus. I must specify however, that not all college libraries are created equal. Smaller 2-year community colleges or trade schools (associate degrees, certifications) will not have the same broad offerings as their larger, more traditional 4-year counterparts that offer bachelor, master, and doctorate degrees. 2-year college library collections are significantly smaller and are often more career- and trade skills-centric.

A university library will rarely offer the popular-practical, but they will often have more material promising to be “of Pagan Interest.” The mission of university collections is to support the university’s ENTIRE body of curriculum. This means not only are they carrying the primary or “required” reading material for every course offering of the last X-number of years, they also collect additional “supportive” material to serve as supplementary reading and as resources for all the students and faculty conducting an even broader range of specialized research.

If you’re looking to delve more into the history, heritage, authenticity, and “why’s” of what you believe or what you’re doing, the university library is your key. Granted, you may have to do a little more homework to prepare for your search (or else don’t be afraid to enlist the help of a librarian… ;) ), but you can find some valuable gems in philosophy, anthropology, history, folk studies, religious studies, etc. to name a few general areas. Again, I’ll refer you to the Readers Advisory page to guide your search in the stacks as university libraries organize their material with a much more detailed/complicated Library of Congress Classification system (LCC).

You’re more likely to find more scholarly authors like Ronald Hutton, Margot Adler, Chas Clifton, and Helen Berger. You’ll also find plenty of non-pagan authors whose books either directly or indirectly touch on Pagan culture, history, or thought.

It’s unlikely universities will have magick- or spell books hidden in their stacks, but you will find material that examines a wide variety of mythologies, studies cultural movements, traces the roots and history of civilizations across time and geographic location, offer discussion and criticism of various belief systems and religious structures, and reveal (or speculate) the history of symbols and secret societies.

Final Notes

There are a few other differences that  are neither here nor there, but may be worth pointing out for the sake of observation. I’m not making noted because I’m saying one type of material is superior to another –popular and academic materials have both their equal share of merit and downfall.

Authority - Information within more popular materials is more often based on personal experience than research heavy. How-to’s are often collected or passed down through tradition. “This is a spell I wrote/ritual I created.” “This is the way it’s been done,” or “this is how you do it,” or “this color is for X purpose. Because it is.” They cut to the chase and just say “this is.” Boom.

Academic material will be more analytical, critical, and cold-hard-facts research based. They have spent the time rooting around history and works to find out “This is why people did it this way.” “this is why this is important and how it came to be so,” or “people interpretted this color as X because it reminded them of Y.”

Now here’s my disclaimer: what I’m NOT saying is that authors like Starhawk or Silver Ravenwolf should be discounted and don’t know what they’re talking about – they DO, and I have absolutely NO DOUBT that they know a great deal more than I do about certain things, and they absolutely have WAY MORE personal experience practicing the craft than I do. What I AM saying is I would rely more on Hutton to provide a more thorough history of European traditions than I would Ravenwolf. Hutton and Ravenwolf do different things, and they each do their different things well.

(It’s after 1am at this point, so most likely I’m just off on a meaningless tangent. Apologies. Bear with me.)

Identity - Authors who are more academic- or research-based (as found in university libraries) are more likely to use their real names, or at least have pen names that don’t involve colors, animals, or crystals, as is often found with popular authors.

I find that interesting. Academics who pour so much time into their research want/deserve their due credit and acknowledgement for their contributions. But I have to wonder about the authors of “Blatant Pagan” popular material… Are the nom de plumes employed to maintain a boundary of anonymity for their mundane-professional/personal life? When is it to protect a private life for privacy’s sake V. fear of stigma V. a more “sensational” name selling a product?

Food for thought. But now it’s time for bed. I’ll leave you all to discuss. *waves fingers around at all y’alls*

“I’m all Verklempt! Talk amongst yourselves, here, I’ll give you a topic: hot dogs. They are neither hot, nor are they dogs. Discuss.”

Posted in Finding Pagan Material, nonfiction, Reference, Resources | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »


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