3,000-item pagan library sheds light on an often-misunderstood religion | Religion

Its diversity of beliefs and traditions make the pagan community difficult to describe.

The 3,207-item collection encompassed in the Open Hearth Foundation’s pagan library comes pretty close. From ancient to modern texts, both common and out of print, plus tarot cards, periodicals and reference volumes, the organization through book drives and donations amassed a wealth of information on the many paths and practices of paganism.

Local pagan worshippers, academics and curious residents can reap the benefits of the estimated $37,800-value collection, housed in the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Frederick church, when it opens to the public in late October. After the recent closing of the Open Hearth Foundation and its D.C.-based community center, its library has found a new home with the Frederick chapter of the Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans, or CUUPS. The collection includes 2,449 books, 174 divination decks, periodicals, reference volumes and accompanying bookshelves, wall cabinets and light fixtures.

A majority of the materials had been unpacked Tuesday, lining the tall, dark bookshelves that spanned the walls of two rooms. But a pile of boxes remained, as well as the task of reorganizing the collection from its prior Library of Congress classification into a topical-based one.

“We wanted to make it a little more user friendly,” explained Irene Glasse, chairwoman of the CUUPS board of directors. “A lot of people are more used to that bookstore-style format … versus the Library of Congress.”

While unpacking, Glasse and other CUUPS members and volunteers devised a rudimentary classification to group together books on like topics with one to nine numerical labels. But ultimately they hoped to refine their system to one with topics and subtopics, all searchable through an online database on…

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