Can you believe it? Lee Staman has just entered his tenth year as the CAC’s Library Director! In 2013, the CAC embarked upon a very ambitious journey: the Living School. Thankfully, CAC leadership knew that if they were going to start a “school for prophets” they would need a prophetic librarian. A sojourner on the contemplative path, a student of many mystics, and conveniently degreed in both theology and library science, Lee was probably the only qualified person for the job.
Fr. Richard was once hailed as “the cassette-tape preacher” because he, with the help of the New Jerusalem community and the CAC, has recorded a great deal of his prolific teaching career. When Lee came on board, many of those tapes and disks were in the process of being digitized and his job was to organize them. CAC staff and Living School faculty, however, quickly discovered what an intellectual legend Lee is and began pulling him in a thousand other directions. Alas, he has spent most of the last decade offering research and reference support to projects for Richard’s Daily Meditations, the podcast network, CAC publications, online courses, and, of course, the Living School. Lee quickly found that his original goal of organizing the digital library would take a very long time at that rate, so in 2016 he enlisted the help of Therese Terndrup, a research librarian who offers her expertise as a cataloging contractor.
I had the great honor (and impostor syndrome) of joining these brilliant minds as a contractor in 2019, during the final year of my own library science education. Lee hired me on as the CAC’s cataloger/archivist in 2020, and now I spend my days helping the team do what I love most: steeping in wisdom and bringing order to chaos. Every CAC teaching that has been recorded, from Fr. Richard’s early cassette tapes to the lectures given by Living School faculty today, will eventually find their way into the digital library. Now that Lee is free to focus on supporting projects across the CAC, Therese and I are taking on the cataloging and archiving: We track down these recordings, listen to them in full, take copious notes, meticulously research citations, and organize them using as much descriptive metadata as possible.
Thanks to the continued support of our generous donors, Lee is no longer alone in building this system for preserving Fr. Richard’s legacy and the wisdom of so many extraordinary teachers who have graced the CAC over the years. The library staff has grown into a powerful team and the CAC’s incredible technologists have begun moving the entire digital library into a new database where we can more freely organize it. Our cataloging enables us to dig up teachings old and new for access across the organization . . . and for you too: If you read the spring issue of the Mendicant closely, you’re as excited as we are about a new podcast series in the works featuring Fr. Richard’s teachings straight from the archives.
Thanks to your support, we get to make this vast body of Christian contemplative wisdom accessible for generations to come.
Seth Wilmor is the CAC’s Archivist and Cataloger. Born and raised in San Diego, California, he traveled around the United States fundraising for social justice organizations from the ages of 18 to 23, moved to the Bay Area for college in 2013, and received his Library Science master’s degree from the University of Washington in 2020. He now lives in the Great Pacific Northwest with his wife and two cats, where he enjoys forest bathing, playing drums, and the endless hunt for the best burrito in town.
This reflection appears in the Summer 2022 issue of the Mendicant, our quarterly donor newsletter.