Theological Libraries: With a focus on Oahu


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  • Aloha everyone, For our group report we chose to focus on Theological Libraries. Lee had more experience with this area as she had done her LIS 601 Bibliography Plan on the topic, but I had a lot to learn. Nevertheless, I am quite happy to share with you my discoveries, as I am sure Lee is, as well.
  • We will organize the presentation in the following order. First, we will begin by defining theological librarianship, then go into the history, and then talk about the professional organizations that exist to support them. We will then provide some information on the largest and most notable institutions in the field. And finally, we will share our personal experiences visiting four different types of theological libraries.
  • Role in Society: Theological librarianship makes it possible for librarians to integrate their faith into their profession.  Deep librarianship becomes a possibility when you feel that it is more of a calling than a vocation to collect and organize sacred information while making it accessible to the community. Stopping to consider, a librarian is defined as “a specialist in the care or management of a library”and theology is “the study of religious faith, practice, and experience.”  This brings their union into perspective.Theological librarianship has interdisciplinary functions as it combines the fields of theology, library, and information science. Other subjects it identifies with are philosophy, biology, history, and psychology. Coalesce managerial, administrative, creative, scholarly, and technical abilities into the librarian’s role and socially impact people in education, the church, and public through literature and scholarship. Values of service, literacy, order, intellectual freedom, access, and preservation are also upheld. One view is that the social function of the library is not just the spreading of knowledge, but the development of human personality. Clientele:Most patrons of any of these types of libraries whether a church, school, or monastery will be seeking information related to their spiritual pursuit so the users will most likely be connected to the library in some way already although some are open to the public. Management/Governing Authority:It could be the church, an educational institution, or a federation of some kind. On your handout there are a list of associations that different theological libraries and librarians could belong to for professional support.Ambiance:The theological library is more concerned with providing a collection that intrigues and inspires ones personal growth with resources that cultivate the moral and ethical life through their spiritual focus.Special Aspects:Some of the challenges faced in this profession is with the “quality, quantity, and visibility of research.” (Gregory A. Smith) Broadening publications and format while also getting more non-Western librarians to participate are concerns.  Being better represented in education by integrating faith and knowledge is a goal along with being involved in more outreach to communities. “Even our classification schemes and controlled vocabulary fail to address the differing concerns of various religious groups.” (Smith) Professional standards and church-state separation sometimes inhibit involving personal religious convictions. They also adapt slower to changes in technology than other academic libraries.
  • The history of theological libraries is interconnected with ecclesiastical libraries, which have existed for centuries. As we know from our text, monasteries collected and preserved ancient religious manuscripts. However, they collected materials in isolation carefully guarding their collections for use by a limited group of patrons. These small libraries preferred to autonomy rather than collaboration. It was only much later that libraries would see the value of collaborating.In 1884, eight years after the formation of ALA, there was an attempt to “organize theological libraries”. Then on June 30, 1916, 27 members from 21 libraries came together to found the Round Table for Theological Libraries. Their main objective was to provide an opportunity for networking amongst theological librarians. After several name changes which changed the status of the round table to a section then back to a round table again, the RTTL finally dissolved in the late 1950s. Fortunately on the international scene, the concept of having an association of theological libraries started picking up steam after World War II, when ecclesiastical libraries experienced the downside of independence – vulnerability to destruction.
  • In 1946, the first autonomous theological library association was formed. Originally called the American Association of Theological Schools (AATS) it was made up of 110 member institutions including Protestants, Roman Catholics, and members of non-Christian faiths. The AATS grew “into the most important national association of theological libraries to date” and is now called the American Theological Library Association (ATLA). This association publishes a Theological librarianship journal that is open access online at Also, here is a ATLA’s newsletter I printed off which is available if you’re a member. In 1947, other countries started their own national theological library associations too, including Germany and the Netherlands.By 1954, the World Council of Churches created the International Association of Theological Libraries. It’s main focus was to disseminate information, publish an international journal of religious bibliography, and become a member of the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA). Unfortunately, it was short-lived and dissolved 7 years after its inception. In 1957, the German, Dutch and French national theological library associations organized an international meeting to continue the legacy and to “break with their rather isolated way of operating”. This new organization was called the International Committee to Coordinate Catholic Theological Library Associations (CIC). It had an ambitious mission which was ultimately scaled down to an exchange program of out-of-print books and reproduction services for ancient documents via microfiche. By 1970, their committee revised their mission to be more ecumenical. This was also the time when lay persons started replacing clergy as librarians for theological libraries.
  • The Burke Theological Library located at the Union Theological Seminary is the largest theological library in the Western Hemisphere.It houses over 700,000 items. In 2004 Union's famed Burke Library became fully integrated into the Columbia University Library system which holds over 10 million volumes. Princeton Theological Seminary Library is affiliated with Princeton University and is the largest in the nation. The Andover-Harvard Theological Library is affiliated with the Harvard Divinity School and has grown to be one of the largest collections of theological resources in the United States.
  • Please refer to your map located on the inside of your scroll.
  • This college was originally called Pacific Rim Bible College which began in 2001 and became New Hope Christian College in July 2011. The primary users are 30 faculty and 142 students and it is not open to the public. They use the Library of Congress classification scheme, there are 11,700 books and a small media collection.CariBelczak is the sole librarian and actually recently graduated from UH! She does not share the same exact beliefs as this college. In fact, she wasn’t even intending to be a theological librarian (she wanted to be a medical librarian, in fact!), but found the job through the school’s email system. Most theological libraries require librarians to have an MLISc and a Master’s degree in theology or sometimes even a doctorate!She reports to the academic dean and president of the school. Her position is part-time because of budget constraints and school size. Although she does not qualify for traditional benefits (medical, dental), the school pays for her to attend the ALA conference and is she is welcome to take the college’s courses for free online. She is expected to be a mentor, is Facebook friended by students and sought out for advice.As far as outreach efforts are concerned… Every semester they have a seminar to market the library and present at new student orientations. There are also handouts that inform on how to use the resources. New Hope Christian College Library is a member of ATLA while Cari is a member of ALA.(library policay handout)
  • Some problems Cari experiences include: Faculty checking out textbooks that are on reserve (they try and have a copy of every textbook on hand) and not bringing back right away which can be an issue.Maximizing budget is a battle and she has to use statistics to prove the library’s worth. She talked about wanting interns so if anyone’s interested? Apparently their journal collection could use some organizing. They have 38 active magazine and journal subscriptions which are predominantly theological.Students have some difficulty retrieving information with databases, but love Library World, which is a user friendly system that mimics Amazon’s interface, and is used for their catalog making finding books a breeze. (share slide photo app pic)
  • TheLevinson-Krupp Memorial Library is an ecclesiastical library.It has been around for 50 years but was renovated in 2005. Now the library’s ambiance is bright, open, and well-organized with acoustics perfect for holding meetings. It is the sole Judaic library in the Pacific. The library is operated by two volunteer librarians: Sally Morgan, LIS alumni of UH with 20 years of experience working as a public librarian in the HSPLS and a retired educator Deborah Washofsky, daughter of Rabbi Morris Goldfarb – a popular, well-read rabbi who donated a significant portion of his personal library to Temple Emanu-El. His speeches are archived at Cornell University. Members of the Reformist temple or Conservative synagogue are the primary users. The current temple rabbi uses some of the library’s collection to teach his classes, so many of his students borrow from the collection. The library is open to the public on Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays mornings. Users need an ID and to fill in a sign-in sheet to borrow materials for a month. Everything can be checked out but the reference collection. An online shelf list of their collection is in the works and will soon be accessible through the temple’s website ( Currently posted on the website is a library description and a digital newsletter promoting particular thematic books on a monthly basis. The only issues with patrons are when they walk out without signing out the book. There are email reminders when a book is overdue, but no fees. The librarians are accountable to the temple’s board, but they are trusted based on their integrity. They survive on donations and a grant trust fund.
  • A quick look at their circulation records reveals that most of the books checked out are in the Dewey classification section 200, which includes books related to spirituality and religion.
  • This SeferTorah scroll (see slide) as you can see is considered to be the holiest book within Judaism.This library’s collection has a Jewish focus with mostly religious texts, but there is some adult fiction and a small children’s section. They do a different display for each Jewish holiday (see slide)(E-BLAST handout)
  • Julius Nodel was Rabbi Emeritus of Honolulu's Temple Emanu-El and former adjunct professor of Chaminade University.All of his books were given to Chaminade University’s Sullivan Library.The Sullivan Library was chosen for the donation is so the collection could all be kept in one place together. If given the donation, UH Manoa could not keep the collection together.
  • While visiting Chaminade we also found a replica of St. John’s Bible encased in glass with a coffee talk book and DVD of the making of it on the first floor. This was great because the Benedictine monastery I visited told me about this masterpiece that is hand illuminated and inspired by some monks and a calligrapher in Minnesota at St. John’s Abbey where Hill Monastic Library also has microfilm of over 125,000 monastic manuscripts.According to our text, the Benedictine Order originated in the Middle Ages in 529 A.D. in Monte Casino, Italy where St. Benedict purposed to “concentrate on spiritual matters and to avoid secular thoughts.” (Rubin)(see picture slide and handout for St. John’s Bible)
  • Father David was nice enough to allow me to come out to Waialua to tour their grounds. He even picked me up from the bus stop since they are off the beaten path and so hard to access without a car. “The mission of the monastic library was threefold: to provide a place for spiritual reflection, to archive religious texts, and to reproduce religious and sometimes secular texts.” (Rubin)This monastery is used as a retreat for spiritual renewal. It is open to visitors so others can partake in the monastic heritage and see what monk and religious life is like. Prayer, work, and community life are important. The monks goal is union with Christ which is found through prayer and spiritual reading. They did have one problem visitor who won’t be invited back because of her paranoia. She apparently rearranged all the furniture without prior approval! They can accommodate up to 6 visitors.There are ten people in the community there (3 priests, 3 brothers, and 4 sisters).They belong to a Monastic Federation whose mother house is in Italy. Their outreach effortspromote God’s peace for every personthrough parish missions, seminars, and days of renewal for people that want to apply St. Benedict’s wisdom to their daily lives.   
  • There are libraries that house scripture, theological study, and personal growth books, VHS, audiotapes, magazines, articles, etc. Main library, library annex, and reader’s library where people can check out books. (slide pics)They do have Encyclopedia Britannica and the Catholic Encyclopedia. 80% is theological or spiritual. There is also a bookstore which contains some literature for children and teens.They referenced the book “How the Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland's Heroic Role from the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe” which speaks of how monks wrote and translated books while sheltering them.”
  • There is no librarian. A visitor helped develop a catalog system and index. The Library of Congress system is used.Ambiance:The library was originally a shipping container that was made into an office and library. Holes had to be cut for windows! Space is an issue. They would like to combine the three libraries into the basement of their main pavilion but need funding. Audiotapes are hard to preserve. Would like to have a subscription to Catholic Encyclopedia but why pay monthly fee just to access an article every other month? Trying to weed out what isn’t read or resourceful. They have an amazon wish list for Christmas.
  • Last but not least, I visited a cloistered Carmelite Monastery which maintains a small library of approximately 3,000 books. The sisters who reside there have devoted their lives to prayer and have taken a vow of silence. They receive donations from other religious organizations. Occasionally, they will receive cash donations to purchase books and religious magazines from St. Ignatius Press and Ave Maria.Their collection is comprised of books on biblical theology, spirituality in general, Carmelized Spirituality, Buddhism, Indian spirituality, and formational texts for those who have a calling to the cloistered life. Formational texts include books on the fathers of the church, history of Carmelites, rules and constitution and many books about prayer and contemplation. They also have English and Chinese literature, anthropology, poetry, art and classic texts on history and humanities and even books on calligraphy, crafts and cooking. A small collection of media is also part of their library. The Sister Librarian has translated books on Carmelite spirituality into Chinese. Some of the problems they experience is the median age of the sisters. Two of the sisters have moved to a convalescent home and one is currently hospitalized. The mother of the monastery is in her nineties. The sister librarian has been living at the Carmelite Monastery for 38 years. “Although hidden, they embrace the whole world.” Their life is nourished by study and reading.
  • Books are shelved in different areas throughout the monastery because of space limitations. The library is not open to the public, but is for exclusive use by novices (women in their foundational stage of sisterhood) and by professed sisters (sister who have devoted more than 6 years to the monastery). Ten years ago, when the collection size was 2,000, the sister responsible for the library wrote down all the titles in order of placement within the shelves. Shelves are given an alphabetic letter, then titles are documented shelf by shelf by numbers. Here are 22 holdings of the first shelf in the first bookcase. The sister did not want the entire catalog, even though it is outdated, to be shared with the class in its entirety. There is a vetting process, as some of the donations are reserved for giveaways for benefactors, for example, books that do not provide any significant contribution to the collection, but are more generalized. The sister librarian would like to expand the formational collection, that is provide more in-depth study material for novices considering a sequestered life of prayer.
  • We started off having trouble finding theological libraries in the area… I tried to contact the Hawaii Theological Seminary, but apparently they no longer exist! but serendipitously we found four that are all unique and interesting. We tried to contact the Buddhist Study Center, but there was a new director and the librarian was undergoing a rather extensive inventory. We contacted Chaminade University for some guidance and a wonderful librarian directed us to the monasteries. So one door closed and another one opened.So we know our presentation went a little longer than planned, but we hope you enjoyed learning about theological libraries because we had even more we could’ve shared because we enjoyed this process so much!Also, if you want references or a copy of our presentation let us know!Have any of you been to a theological library or are you interested in being a theological librarian?Any questions?
  • Theological Libraries: With a focus on Oahu

    1. 1. •Source:
    2. 2. Overview Theological Librarianship History Professional Organizations Largest Institutions Local Institutions
    3. 3. Theological LibrarianshipRole in Society - Faith joins professionClientele - Spiritual or scholarly pursuitManagement/Governing AuthorityAmbiance - Sacred aweSpecial Aspects - Research and Technology
    4. 4. History Ecclesiastical to Theological American Library Association (ALA) - 1884 ALA Religious Documents Round Table - 1916 World War II spurs international collaboration
    5. 5. Professional Organizations 1946 1947 1954-1961Comité International de Coordination des Associations 195de Bibliothèques de Théologie Catholique 6
    6. 6. Largest Institutions“Theological libraries supportinstitutions of higher education thatfocus primarily on training candidatesfor the ministry. Their collectionsinclude scholarly resources across thespectrum of the theological curriculumand allied disciplines.”
    7. 7. Local Institutions The New Hope Christian College – Hawaii Library Levinson-Krupp Memorial Library, Temple Emanu-El Chaminade University Benedictine Monastery of Hawaii Carmelite Monastery
    8. 8. New Hope Christian College – Hawaii Libraryis dedicated to providing informationresources to enrich the studies of allmembers of the college’s community. Ourprimary goal is to increase theinformation literacy of emergingChristian leaders and provide resourcessupportive of a biblical higher educationcurriculum.
    9. 9. Library Worldhas a user-friendly app forstudents tobrowse throughthe collection. Academic databases are harder for students to navigate.
    10. 10. Levinson-Krupp Memorial Library “A library is a living thing. Otherwise it’s a museum.” ~Deborah Washofsky “A library is like a garden. You have to weed it and let it grow.” ~Sally Morgan•Source:
    11. 11. Temple Emanu-El“The church is credited with being the earliest repository oflearning in Western Europe.” Roger W. Phillips
    12. 12.
    13. 13. Nodel Judaica Special Collection
    14. 14. Chaminade University Sullivan Library Benedict’s Ruleinstructs the reader to “listen… with the ear of your heart.”
    15. 15. Benedictine Monastery
    16. 16. Carmelite Monastery•Source:
    17. 17. References•Agnella, S. (2012, February 11). Carmelite Monastery [Personal interview].•Belczak, C. (2012, February 7). New Hope Christian College Hawaii Library [Personal interview].• D., K. (2011, November 8). Carmelite Monastery [Photograph found in St. Stephan Diocesan Center, Yelp, Kaneohe]. In Yelp.Retrieved February 12, 2012, from (Originally photographed 2011,November 8).•Delay, C. (2012, February 10). Chaminade University Library [Telephone interview].•Father David. (2012, February 12). Benedictine Monastery of Hawaii [Personal interview].•Flora Lamson Hewlett Library. (n.d.). Graduate Theological Union Library. Retrieved January 30, 2012, from•Geuns, A. J., & Wolf-Dahm, B. (1998). Theological libraries - An overview on history and present activities of the International Council ofAssociations of Theological Libraries. INSPEL, 32(3), 139-158. Retrieved February 6, 2012, from•Gershun, L. (n.d.). Temple Emanu-El [Photograph found in Honolulu]. In Being Jewish In Hawaii. Retrieved February 12, 2012, from photographed 2012, February 12).•J. (n.d.). Monastic Library - Theological Hall. In Flickr: Search Creative Commons. Retrieved February 12, 2012, from (Originally photographed 2008, December 28).•Kuniyuki, K. (2012, February 7). Buddhist Study Center [E-mail interview].•Landheer, B. (1957). Social Functions of Libraries. The Scarecrow Press, Inc. Retrieved January 28, 2012, from•Librarian. 2004. Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster Incorporated. Retrieved February 10, 2012, from•Library World. (2012). Mobile. Retrieved February 15, 2012 from
    18. 18. •Mathis, R. (2008, February 14). Inside a Dutch Theological Book. In Flickr: Search Creative Commons. Retrieved February 15, 2012 from•McMahon, M. L. (2010). Theological librarianship: An unapologetic apology. In Theological Librarianship, 3(1), 7-14. Retrieved January 30, 2012.•Morgan, S., & Washofsky, D. (2012, February 6). Levinson-Krupp Memorial Library [Personal interview].•New Hope Christian College. (2012). New Hope Christian College. Retrieved from•Parrott, J. Theological Librarianship: With a Focus on Christian Librarianship. Retrieved January 20, 2012, from•Phillips, R. (2002). Library Encounters Culture. In Christian Librarianship: Essays on the Integration of Faith and Profession. (pp. 87-99).Jefferson, N.C: McFarland & Company Inc.•"Religious Books Round Table." The American Library Association Archives. Retrieved February 12, 2012,from•Rubin, R. (2010). Chapter 2 From past to present: The history and mission of libraries. In Foundations of library and information science (pp. 41-43). New York: Neal-Schuman.•Sefer Torah. (n.d.). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved February 10, 2012, from•Sefer Torah. (2012, January 12). In Wikipedia. Retrieved February 10, 2012, from•Smith, G.A. (2002). A Rationale for Integrating Christian Faith and Librarianship. In Christian Librarianship: Essays on the Integration of Faithand Profession. (pp 11-27). Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company Inc.•St. John’s Bible (2012). St. John’s Bible. Retrieved February 12, 2012, from•Theological Librarianship (2012). Retrieved February 16, 2012, from•Theology. 2004. Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster Incorporated. Retrieved February 10, 2012, from•Trotti, J.B. (2002). The Theological Library: In Touch With the Witnesses. In Christian Librarianship: Essays on the Integration of Faith andProfession. (pp. 48-54). Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company Inc.• Unearthing Eloquence. (n.d.). UNION:inDialogue/. Retrieved January 30, 2012, from