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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 (HDS) 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 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.

During the first year of our three-year strategic plan we were able to make substantial progress on eight of our eleven priority objectives. For example, the cataloging team has eliminated one backlog and stopped creating new backlogs; the inventory project is now ready for a pilot phase; and a new staff group was formed, the Trends Group, to foster the sharing of expertise among the staff regarding rapid developments in the profession. Our attention to digitization and outreach efforts were the most significant and are described below.

In partnership with the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, we plan to digitize and microfilm substantial portions of the records of the Unitarian Service Committee (USC). The USC was formed in May of 1940, with a stated purpose to “investigate opportunities for humanitarian service both in America and abroad.” These records are a rich resource, documenting the conditions in Europe during WWII and specific work with individuals attempting to flee. As a result of this year’s extensive planning, we expect the project to begin shortly.

Several new initiatives were launched to increase the library’s outreach to the HDS community. In October, we recognized “Theological Libraries Month” as a device for concentrated programming. Afternoon teas, a book sale, photo-essay introductions of the staff, and a RefWorks demo were among the offerings. The library also concentrated on soliciting more input from the community. We hosted focus groups to learn more about how HDS students approach online research. We also used the LIBQUAL+ survey to measure library user perceptions and expectations among HDS students and faculty.

The reference department reviewed and revised its focus and priorities. Moving forward, the department will change its name to research services and plans to focus first and foremost on proactive, targeted teaching of research skills to HDS students.

The decreasing value of the US dollar has placed pressure on the acquisitions budget. Moreover, the average cost of monographs has increase an average of 11% (standing orders) and 21% (firm orders) per book over the past three years. As the quantities and costs of scholarly publications continues to rise, our acquisitions will need to be more selective until/unless further funds are secured.

Notable acquisitions include online access to Oxford Islamic Studies Online, The New Catholic Encyclopedia, and The Encyclopedia of Religion. For the special collections, we acquired a first edition of Religio rationalis seu de rationis judicio, in controversiis etiam theologicis, ac religiosis, adhibendo, tractatus. 1685. Written by Andreas Wissowatius, the grandson of Faustus Socinus, the work provides the philosophical grounds of the antitrinitarian beliefs of the Socinians; only one other copy appears to be held in the US.