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The Graduate and Professional School Libraries

Andover-Harvard Theological Library

Report of Laura C. Wood, Librarian


Report of Laura C. Wood, Librarian—Harvard Divinity School

Drawing on its historical strength in Christian studies and its significant resources in global religious studies, Harvard Divinity School educates scholars, teachers, ministers, and other professionals for leadership and service both nationally and internationally. To help in building a world in which people can live and work together across religious and cultural divides, we strive to be a primary resource in religious and theological studies for the academy, for religious communities, and in the public sphere. In support of that mission, the Andover–Harvard Theological Library (AHTL) 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.

Future Directions

Throughout the year, the entire library staff engaged in strategic planning. Rather than engage the entire community in a traditional strategic planning process, we used some of the methods of strategic planning to ensure that the entire library staff was aware of and involved in shaping our future directions. Given the competing demands on our time and resources, we focused on identifying priorities among longstanding backlogs and new opportunities. The four guiding goals and associated projects identified as our top objectives are:

  • to provide timely access to materials by eliminating cataloging backlogs, inventorying the collections, and expanding electronic reserves;
  • to cultivate a welcoming environment by improving facilitated access to restricted collections, examining use of the first floor, and creating a program of proactive and collaborative outreach;
  • to steward and deliver unique research materials by planning our next digitization effort and improving the air quality for special collections; and
  • to promote professional growth in all AHTL staff members by sharing internal expertise, developing cataloging expertise for rare books, and extending research training for student workers.

These objectives were selected for initiation (if not completion) within a one-to-three-year time frame. They will guide our ongoing prioritization of work proactively and responsively. Several of the projects are now underway.


Our library was the first library included in the Harvard–Google Project. In all, over 15,000 volumes of monographs and serials were sent for scanning, including 1,347 hand-selected volumes from the special collections. The joint Library/IT&MS project to digitize the New Testament and Archaeological slide collection was completed; over 8,000 slides were digitized and cataloged in VIA, Harvard’s database for visual materials.


The periodicals department bar-coded and preserved roughly 16,000 journal volumes housed at the Harvard Depository. This project has enabled increased user access to periodicals stored off-site. The media collection (audio and film material) was relocated to new shelving in the microform room; this move provides self-service and browsing access to the materials.

Notable acquisitions include two important microfilm collections (Christianity and the Encounter with World Religions, 1875-1950 and American Religions Collection, Series 2: Eastern Religions: Buddhism, Shintoism, and Japanese New Religions), three electronic resources (Encyclopaedia of the Qur’an, Digital Karl Barth Library, and Corpus dei Manoscritti Copti Letterari), eighty-five DVDs (documentary and feature films), and a rare copy of Doctoris Joannes Fabri, adversus Doctorem Balthasarum pacimontanum, Anabaptistarum nostri saeculi, primum authorem, orthodoxae fidei catholica defensio, Johannes Faber’s Catholic “apology” for the burning of the “heretic” Anabaptist leader Balthasar Hubmaier in Vienna in 1528.

Public Services

Circulation and interlibrary loan levels remained relatively constant. The library implemented the iSites reserves tool so that course reserves could be integrated into course websites. Circulation of printed reserve materials continues to decline slightly (8%) as the availability and use of electronic resources increases. Our second year of reference statistics shows a significant increase, but this may be largely due to more accurate record keeping. Our reference services continue to be primarily (75%) in-person consultations. The reference staff offered new instruction sessions on RefWorks, a research management tool, along with 35 other tours and instruction sessions. In the Manuscript and Archives department, a new position of archives assistant was created; the incumbent, Jessica Suarez, joined the staff in November. Adding this second person to the department will provide critical support for reference services and processing collections.