FOR THE PAST THREE YEARS, the Jointly Maintained Christian Science Reading Room in the heart of downtown San Diego, California, has operated in the black. The term operating in the black is used loosely (not based on a classic profit model). Getting our Reading Room on the positive side of the ledger is largely due to the generous donations of more than a dozen area Christian Science churches, as well as individuals we affectionately call the "Friends of the Reading Room." However, our sales are really quite good, considering most are from public rather than member sales. Even while continuing to raise funds, our primary business focus is to increase activity and sales—with the long-term goal of the Reading Room becoming completely self-supporting.
Last year we also completed a massive renovation to make our space more current, relevant, and inviting—like other retail space in the community. Since reopening, we have served some 1,500 people, the vast majority of whom had never heard of Christian Science or stepped into a Reading Room before.
Our storefront Reading Room has been in its current location for over 35 years. We have a part-time paid librarian, a couple of paid attendants, and a dozen volunteers on staff. Our doors are open 50 hours a week. Our technology is comprised of three state-of-the-art computers—one maintains our inventory through a new POS (Point of Sale) system that accepts credit cards. Another is used as a CD listening station and research computer, and also provides access to Christian Science websites. The third computer runs a 24/7 informational and product-related slide show on a plasma display monitor in our front window.