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The Graduate and Professional School Libraries

Andover-Harvard Theological Library

Report of Laura C. Wood, Librarian


The study of theology at Harvard Divinity School enables women and men, enriched by theological understanding, to pursue diverse vocations in ordained and lay ministry; in scholarship and education; and in other professions such as the human services, journalism, medicine, law, and government. In support of that mission, the Andover–Harvard Theological Library strives to serve a wide and expanding array of scholarly inquiries from Harvard students and faculty, while also providing services to our alumni/ae, local clergy, and the worldwide community of scholars of religious studies.


The Harvard–Google Project presents a wonderful opportunity to digitize theological materials in the public domain for discovery and display in Google Book Search (GBS). Among the other research libraries participating in GBS, only Harvard has a dedicated theological library. During the year, the Divinity Library agreed to serve as the first collection for inclusion in the Harvard project. Scanning would not begin until the following academic year, but several projects were initiated this year to prepare the collections for inclusion. The cataloging staff completed a smart barcoding project of over 13,000 circulating items and began recataloging backlogs of older material. The periodicals department began creating individual volume records for journals stored at the Harvard Depository; this project to update 21,000 volume records is more than halfway finished and will be completed next summer. All of these projects were on the “to-do list” before the advent of the Harvard–Google Project, which has increased their priority. There are benefits for our patrons and our collection beyond the benefits of digitization, and most importantly, we continue to improve access to the collections.

In February, Cliff Wunderlich, head of Public Services, completed work on the project to digitize our collection of postcards of Unitarian Universalist churches. The project was funded by a grant from the American Theological Library Association for its Cooperative Digital Resource Initiative (CDRI). We identified, scanned, and created metadata for roughly 900 postcards (originally estimated at 500). These images are now deposited in the CDRI online database ( We will soon deposit these in Harvard’s Digital Repository Service (DRS) and profile the postcards in an online exhibit.

AHTL was contributed material to Immigration to the United States, 1789–1930, which is the second online collection launched by Harvard’s Open Collections Program. We also continue the second year of our LDI grant project to digitize over 8,000 New Testament and archaeological slides.

ATLAS for Alumni/ae

When our students graduate, they leave our walls, but they also lose access to our online resources. While we can extend borrowing privileges for books to our local alumni/ae, we’re typically unable to provide anything but walk-in access to online resources. To address these needs, AHTL has subscribed to the ATLASerials (ATLAS) collection for alumni/ae. ATLAS is a collection of more than 70 full-text scholarly journals in religion and theology. To date, the collection includes more than 150,000 articles and book reviews published from 1924 to the present. We will work with the alumni/ae relations office to publicize this service in the coming year. We hope that this service will help our alumni/ae continue their intellectual study and research.

Microform Equipment

While digital technology gets most of the attention these days, microform technology and materials are still alive and well. The library’s significant collection of materials on microfilm and microfiche continues to grow. Therefore, this year we replaced one microform reader/printer and added a reader capable of creating and saving digital images of the microform (into JPEG, TIFF, or PDF files).


While librarians regularly organize materials, we must also be attentive to organizing ourselves. In order to better facilitate activities that routinely fall between departmental definitions, we formalized a set of committees for library staff. While at many times this feels like an excess of committees for the size of our staff, it does reflect the collaborative nature of much of the work that we do. The committee structure is designed in the hopes that it will facilitate collaboration, create official mechanisms for certain types of activities, and provide leadership opportunities for staff members. Committees were established to work on brittle books, emergency preparation, exhibits, feedback and outreach, hospitality, IT support, e-resource stewardship, and web development. Committee objectives and membership will be reviewed annually. 

The exhibit committee created the exhibit “Women at HDS: Before and After 1955” to coincide with the school-wide celebration of 50 years of woman as degree candidates at Harvard Divinity School. The exhibit highlighted the many ways that women contributed to the life of the school before their official arrival as degree candidates. Among the information gleaned from researching this exhibit was that Radcliffe students and staff were given full privileges at the newly formed Andover–Harvard Library in 1912.


The library was able to acquire several notable collections this year. The Manuscripts and Archives department received several new faculty collections, including the papers of William Hutchison, Harvey Cox, and Richard R. Niebuhr, plus additions to the existing collection of H. Richard Niebuhr’s papers. We also were able to purchase several rich collections of material on microform, including African-American Religious Serials, 1850–1950 (over 100 titles, including rare serials); Literature of Theology and Church History (11,000 microfiche of 19th-century British titles); and the final series of Reformed Protestantism (385 titles comprising set 5, East Friesland and North Western Germany). In addition, the library added 4,328 books and 940 bound serial volumes to the collections.

The library is in the process of a major stack shift. In order to make space in high-growth areas of the circulating collection, one area of books was consolidated and a major section of books shifted to use the open shelves. This shift represents the use of our last expansion space in the building. When this growth room is used, future growth will only be accommodated by moving additional collections to off-site storage.

We are pleased to have started marking up our manuscript and archives finding aids in encoded archival description (EAD) so that they may be included in OASIS, Harvard’s online catalog of finding aids. By contracting with an external specialist, we are slowly beginning what will be a multi-year effort that eventually will ensure greater discovery of our collections alongside other Harvard repository collections and reduce future maintenance and migration requirements.