ALERT wants to sell off much of old Ambassador library

By Mac Overton

BIG SANDY, Texas--Once reported to be the largest library between Dallas, Texas, and Shreveport, La., the books of the former Ambassador University library are up for sale by the current owner.

The family that owns the Hobby Lobby chain of stores bought the university property in March 2000 and in turned leased it to the Institute in Basic Life Principles of Oak Brook, Ill., for its International ALERT Academy.

Carol Blair of Big Sandy, journalism instructor, writer, editor and librarian for the academy, said the library contains about 137,000 volumes. She said ALERT--which stands for Air-Land Emergency Response Team--would like to divest itself of half to two thirds of the books, those that don't fit with ALERT's program.

She said ALERT will keep sections related to auto repair, other vocational training, family living and volumes that might be of interest to their staff and students.

ALERT has tried to sell the books, including via the eBay auction site on the Internet, for about a year without much success.

Among the many categories of books for sale is a large Egyptology collection.

When ALERT took over the grounds and library, its employees found that the Worldwide Church of God had removed rare books and a particular set of Bibles that had been a part of the collection.

Another source told The Journal that the WCG had sold the rare books and Bibles through an auction house in New York.

Miss Blair also said the WCG had removed the card-catalog files, those in filing cabinets and a computer database.

"What we got were 15,000 pages of little, tiny print which listed the books," Miss Blair said. I assembled them into binders."

Miss Blair said that in Jackson Hall, a campus building housing classrooms and faculty offices, "we found hundreds, maybe thousands, of books on writing and instruction" stored in closets.

In the library, ALERT employees found file cabinets full of newspaper and magazine clippings, pamphlets and brochures.

In a closet were many volumes that comprise a dictionary and braille encyclopedia.

Typical collection

The old Ambassador University library is "a typical small university library," said Miss Blair, with about 130,000 volumes, a large periodicals section, a reference section, videos, older audio-visual items, LP-record albums and much more.

"It uses the Library of Congress system," she said. "Computer and online listings are not available. All that is available is a printout of 15,000 pages organized by title, author and LOC [Library of Congress] number."

Miss Blair said that, because ALERT has only two part-time librarians, "we can't have people come and look. Only librarians seriously interested in buying quantities should contact us."

A "serious" inquiry would come from someone who could consider paying an average of $13 per book, she said. If all 130,000 volumes were to go to one buyer, the bill would come to about $1.7 million.

"That's the amount that our director, Col. [Ron] Fuhrman, set a long ago," said Miss Blair. The $13 would be an "average," she said. "We realize that some books are worth more, some are worth less."

Serious inquiries about large quantities may be made to Miss Blair at (903) 636-2000, extension 2074, or

"Personal visits from serious inquirers are welcome by appointment only," she said. "Big Sandy is two hours east of Dallas."

Although Miss Blair can't spend as much time as she would like working with the books of the former Ambassador University, she prefers working among the stacks. "I'm in my glory here," she said.

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