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Theological library association makes return visit to Louisville after six decades

by Louisville Seminary | Jun 10, 2010
By Toya Richards

Just as it did more than 60 years ago, Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary is giving leadership to a gathering of theological librarians looking to develop their professional skills and broaden their connections.

The American Theological Library Association (ATLA) will gather in Louisville, June 16-19, for its annual conference. The meeting is a return to the organization’s roots, which were planted by a group of 50 theological librarians who met in 1947 on Louisville Seminary’s former campus in downtown Louisville.

ATLA, headquartered in Chicago, is a professional association of more than 1,000 individual, institutional, and affiliate members. It provides programs, products, and services in support of theological and religious studies libraries and librarians.

Over six decades the ATLA organization has grown, and nearly 300 people are expected to attend the 2010 conference. Louisville Seminary will host the conference along with the libraries of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, St. Meinrad School of Theology, Lexington Theological Seminary, and Asbury Theological Seminary.

The five seminaries comprise the Theological Education Association of Mid-America, or TEAM-A.

“ATLA serves mainly to support the professional development of the librarians who are members and to provide resources for theological education,” said Dr. Douglas Gragg, director of library and information technology services at Louisville Seminary.

Among the activities that will take place during the conference are panel presentations and roundtable discussions, interest group meetings, and workshops. Dr. Susan R. Garrett, Louisville Seminary Professor of New Testament, will be a conference plenary speaker, and two other Louisville Seminary professors will lead worship during the event, Gragg said.

Louisville Seminary’s contribution also will include welcoming conference goers to campus for activities such as a tea at Gardencourt and breakout sessions. The seminary visit is part of a tradition where conference attendees spend time on the campus of one of the local hosts, and this year, time will be shared with Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

A campus tour of the Louisville Seminary campus will most certainly wrap up in the Ernest Miller White Library, named for the Seminary’s longest-serving librarian. The library includes more than 175,000 bound volumes, almost 12,000 microforms and around 7,000 audio-visual resources. It also subscribes to about 600 current periodicals and provides access to a large and increasing number of electronic resources.

“We have, I think, a splendid collection,” said Gragg. In addition, the library and its staff provide access to the “world of learning” available through technology, he added.

The Ernest Miller White Library provides access to major electronic tools for research in theology and related subjects, including the ATLA Religion Database, the Family and Society Studies Worldwide Database, Old Testament Abstracts, New Testament Abstracts, the Digital Library of Classic Protestant Texts, the works of John Calvin on CD-ROM, the Digital Karl Barth Library, and BibleWorks.

Cooperative programs with other libraries on local, state, and regional levels are available, and TEAM-A provides students and faculty with library privileges at the four other regional seminaries.

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For more information on the ATLA conference, visit
ATLA Conference Information.

To learn more about the Louisville Seminary holdings, visit
E.M. White Library

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