The library at Columbia Theological Seminary, which is named for John Bulow Campbell, an Atlanta businessman and member of Columbia’s Board of Trustees during the 1930s, serves a vital educational role at the seminary. The library offers resources for student and faculty research, supports the curriculum, and encourages the exploration of theological topics beyond the classroom.
The initial library collection, which opened to students in 1829, was about three hundred volumes. When the seminary relocated to Decatur, GA, the library consisted of 32,000 volumes many of which are rare books. Today, the library collections include over 195,000 books and bound journals, 840 current periodical subscriptions, 49,000 microforms, thousands of church records and archival collections.
Since Columbia’s beginning, the archives have existed in some shape or form; however, they were unorganized. In the late 1990’s, a purpose-built space was constructed and the archives were formally named for C. Benton Kline, Jr., fifth president of Columbia. Dr. Kline’s daughter, Mary Martha Riviere, works in the library and is attending ATLA this year.
In September 2005, the Committee of the Office of the General Assembly (COGA) voted at its meeting to close the Montreat Historical Society at the end of 2006. In April 2007, Columbia received numerous archival materials that were transferred from Montreat in large trucks. Some of the materials are now owned by CTS, including the Presbyterian Local Church History collection (consisting of over 5,600 annual histories) and more than 650 collections of personal papers. Other materials received from Montreat remain on deposit at Columbia including 1,100 collections of congregational materials and over 200 collections of presbytery materials. These deposit materials are from the Southern region of the United States. The above archive material transfer took place under Sara Myers’ leadership as Director of the Library.
In fall of 2015, the library created the Center for Academic Literacy (CAL). CAL was created with a specific vision that includes a special focus on international students. This past year, the four part-time staff of CAL hosted a Courageous Communicators Series. Students and faculty participated in a Write-In held at the Center for Civil and Human Rights. In the spring, students engaged in an event called “Drop the Mic: Preaching Palooza.” The event encouraged students to embody their voice in a three-minute social action sermon. Students shared their sermons in a public forum of their choosing and received their Courageous Communicators Certificate.
Associate Dean for Information Services and Director of John Bulow Campbell Library