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Maggy Jones, The Samye Library for World Religions

Category: Meet our Members

The following is a guest blog post from Maggy Jones as part of our focus on sectors.



My name is Maggy Jones, I am 77 and have been in a wheelchair since 1961. Fate dictated that I had to have a sedentary job. Fate finally took me to the Scottish Information Service for the Disabled which served professionals, voluntary organisations and individuals in the field of disability. Here I took L. A. examinations.

In 1985 Fate took me to the Samye Ling Tibetan Buddhist Centre in Dumfriesshire , founded in 1967 in a run-down shooting lodge, by Akong Rinpoche, a refugee Tibetan Lama, See

1991 I came to live here. This crazy, wonderful, multi-national community currently has about 50 residents, monks, nuns and lay people, 14 nationalities and an age range of 21 to 90. You do not have to be a Buddhist to live here – what matters is what you do.

The library before shelvesBooks were donated to Samye Ling over 40 years and stored in attics, and garages, boxes, and bin liners… In 2013 the final wing of the quadrangle was finished, a room was designated “Library” and Akong Rinpoche told me to “Get it sorted!”.

He wanted the library to reflect all aspects of Samye Ling, so the stock includes all forms of Buddhism, the books of all other faiths, interfaith and philosophies; we have courses on therapies, mindfulness training, yoga, tai chi, chi gung; Tibetan and herbal medicine are also encouraged. The library must support all these. The Abbot, Lama Yeshe Rinpoche, has named it “The Samye Library for World Religions”.

visitors in the libraryI have a £0.00 budget. The books we do not want I sell to The Bookcase in Carlisle or the Bookshop in Wigtown and buy in stock we do want, working with the teachers of the courses – we have no room for rubbish.

So far my team of volunteers and I have catalogued 11,400 items in 52 languages, and, to my surprise, all languages have been used except the more obscure Indian ones. Books continue to arrive; I also shamelessly scrounge freebies – publishers’ seconds, donations from societies, charitable foundations etc. LIBRARY WITHDRAWN are very welcome. I persuade, recruit and train volunteers and charm (well, try to!) cash donations.

the empty libraryConventional classification systems do not work – cip can’t decide whether Buddhism is a philosophy, a religion or psychology – so I designed our own alpha-numeric system which seems to be working. I use ‘Book Collectorz’ a cheap package software which serves our purpose but I have had to do our own Subject list to accommodate our specialist stock. Our succession of volunteers comes from within and outside the Community, trained and untrained. Two volunteers are retired librarians living in the area, not Buddhists, but committed librarians and enjoying passing on their knowledge.

The attraction and challenge of creating a library from scratch, with £0.00 budget, dependent on donations for books, shelves and furniture, is an exciting commission, and a major, frustrating headache, Finally it is taking shape and the library is now open to the public every afternoon, with a cautious lending system, and the prospect of opening in the evenings next Spring. This library has happened because people wanted it!



Maggy Jones, BA, CILIP,
Head Librarian,
The Samye Library for World Religions,
Samye Ling Tibetan Buddhist Centre,
Langholm, Dumfriesshire. DG13 0QL Tel. 013873 73232 x. 255