| Special Collections
Collection Management Policy—April 2008
I. History of the collection to 1953
"Before the Seminary’s opening, committees from the Board began collecting books for the library. Each presbytery appointed such a committee in 1829, and about three hundred volumes were collected... By 1850 there were 4,582 volumes. The library was housed on the third floor [of Ansley Hall or Ainslie Hall]." (LaMotte, 54) "The library consisted of 5,296 volumes in 1854; the Smyth Library was purchased in 1856, adding 11,520 volumes. In 1863 there were 17,778 volumes." (LaMotte, 116) By the early 20th century, the collection also included "the personal libraries of Rev. John Douglas, Dr. George Howe, Dr. S. Beach Jones, Dr. S. M. Smith, and Dr. J. W. Flinn." (LaMotte, 192) "The library, of some 32,000 volumes in 1926, many of which are rare books, was transported to Decatur and housed in the Campbell Hall. The library of Dr. R. C. Reed, some 2,000 books, was presented by the family of the deceased. Dr. Thornton Whaling gave his library of about the same size…In the fall of 1936 the library was being fully catalogued, and an expert librarian assumed charge." (LaMotte, 231) By the time a separate building was constructed for the library in 1953, the collection numbered approximately 40,000 volumes. (Richards, 81)
II. General collection development guidelines
The collections of the John Bulow Campbell Library are developed in accordance with the library’s mission statement, which, in turn, is guided by the seminary’s statement of mission. Accordingly, the collections support the curriculum of the seminary and the research needs of the faculty. Furthermore, the collections document the history and theology of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and other churches in the Reformed tradition.
A. Responsibility for selection
The director of the library has primary responsibility for the selection of materials added to the library's collections. Faculty members are encouraged to assess library holdings in their fields and make recommendations about titles to be acquired. Normally, recommended titles will be purchased.
B. Scope and content
The library's collections include titles covering the major theological disciplines and appropriate cognate areas. The library collects as comprehensively as possible materials relating to the history, theology and practice of the PCUSA, and, to a lesser extent, other churches in the Reformed tradition. The library collects materials directly related to the seminary’s curriculum and to areas of faculty research and publication. The library will also attempt to anticipate future curricular needs and order titles accordingly.
C. Level of Collection
The library acquires materials at a graduate level appropriate for the programs offered at Columbia. In general, the library does not acquire resources comprehensively in any field. However, the library does support faculty research and purchases materials at a more advanced level as requested by the faculty and as funding permits.
English is the primary language of the collection. Some items are acquired in biblical Hebrew and Greek. In addition, titles in other languages are purchased, if they conform to the general collection guidelines. In particular, foreign language titles recommended by faculty members will be considered.
The library buys materials in multiple formats and maintains the equipment necessary to access any format purchased. The formats are: 1. Print (books and periodicals)
Print is still the dominant format for books and periodicals in theology and religion.
Often microforms are the only format available for out-of-print titles and manuscript/archival collections.
The collection includes many resources in electronic format, including books, periodicals, reference sources, etc. Some are owned by the library; some are annual subscriptions; some require maintenance fees. For select titles, the library has both print and electronic versions.
Videocassettes, audiocassettes, compact disks, and DVDs are purchased only when they will be used in classes.
F. Hardback versus Paperback
If there is a choice between hardback and paperback editions of a book, the library acquires the paperback. However, if use of the item is anticipated to be high or the cost difference is insignificant, the library will acquire the hardback. If an item is available only in paperback and use will be high, the book is sent to the bindery to be hardbound before it circulates. All other paperbacks are laminated. If necessary, they will be sent to the bindery after having circulated.
Generally, a single copy of each title is acquired, unless sufficient demand for multiple copies can be projected.
H. Ownership versus Access
The library acquires materials directly related to the curriculum. For those subject areas peripheral to the curriculum, some representative titles will be acquired, generally reference works and basic English-language texts. However, the library will normally support such subject areas through access to electronic databases, interlibrary loans, and interlibrary cooperation.
III. Special Collections
A. Rare Books and Periodicals
Books and periodicals in the collection with pre-1866 publication dates are housed in the C. Benton Kline, Jr. Special Collections and Archives area of the library. On a limited basis, damaged or brittle books and periodicals with pre-1900 publication dates may also be shelved there. If the library receives requests to purchase pre-1900 materials that are in direct support of the curriculum, the staff will locate and acquire them, if the cost is reasonable. The library will add gifts of pre-1866 books and periodicals selectively.
The Kline Special Collections and Archives area also contains the seminary archives, the archives of some Columbia faculty and administrators, the archives of some alumni/ae, and a portion of the archival collections of the Presbyterian Church (USA) formerly located at the Presbyterian Historical Society in Montreat, NC.
1. Seminary archives
The seminary archives include the official records of the institution, e.g., minutes of the meetings of the Board of Trustees, minutes of faculty meetings, committee minutes, student academic records, class photographs, publications, etc. Each department of the seminary is responsible for depositing their records with the archivist on a regular basis.
2. Faculty and administrators
Regarding faculty and administrators’ archives, the library acquires by donation the lectures, notes, correspondence (including email), speeches, drafts and working papers of publications, as well as video and audio recordings and photographs. In general, administrators’ archives include only those of the president, the dean of the faculty, and the vice-presidents.
The library purchases at least two copies of each faculty publication, in the original format. One copy will be placed in the faculty section of the archives and one copy in the circulating collection. In general, these publications must be monographs and/or multi-author works with a chapter or essay by a faculty member. Normally, books edited by faculty members will be added to the circulating collection, but not archives.
On a very selective basis, the library acquires by donation archival collections of significant Columbia alumni/ae. The criteria for inclusion include, but are not limited to, individuals who are representative of the broad range of Columbia graduates, individuals who have had an on-going relationship with the seminary, and/or individuals who have had distinguished careers in ministry.
4. Presbyterian Church (USA) Archives, formerly at Montreat
In 2006, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) voted to move to Columbia Theological Seminary a portion of the archival collections of the Church, which were formerly located at the Presbyterian Historical Society in Montreat, NC.
The collections included materials from the Southern Stream of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and its predecessor bodies. The Southern Stream is identified as Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia, and Virginia. The record groups include:
- Local church histories written by Presbyterian Women
- Congregational records
- Presbytery records
- Synod records
- Personal papers
The library actively acquires by donation similar collections and/or additions to existing collections. These acquisitions are governed by stipulations in the Book of Order of the Presbyterian Church (USA). The local church histories and personal papers are owned by the seminary; the congregational, presbytery, and synod records are on deposit.
The criteria for adding personal papers include, but are not limited to, individuals who have made significant contributions to the Presbyterian Church in the southern states, individuals who had a long-term relationship with the seminary, and/or individuals whose papers would contribute to the overall educational goals of the seminary.
C. Special Collections Acquisitions Committee
The Special Collections Acquisitions Committee will review potential gifts for special collections. If a representative of the seminary, e.g., the president, a faculty member, or a member of the institutional advancement staff, is offered a gift, e.g., books, church records, or a collection of papers, they will forward the information to the committee. In the same way, if someone contacts the library directly about a potential gift, the information will be sent to the committee. The committee will decide whether the gift conforms to the guidelines of the library’s collection management policy. The committee members will include the president, the dean of the faculty, the director of the Presbyterian and Reformed History and Theology Program, the chair of the Library and Bookstore Committee, the director of the library, and the archivist.
IV. The Griffith Children’s Library
The Griffith Children’s Library, located on 3West, includes books and other materials for use in the spiritual formation of children. The library purchases two copies of each title that is selected, one for the children’s library reference collection and one to circulate. The children’s library also houses church school curriculum materials. Curriculum materials are received regularly from the Presbyterian Church (USA) and retained on a three-year cycle. Curriculum from other denominations or publishers is added selectively on a rotating basis.
The library is committed to the preservation of its collections. Preservation is the action taken to prevent, stop, or retard deterioration of all library materials in all formats; to prevent their theft or loss; where possible to improve their condition; and, as necessary and appropriate, to change their format in order to preserve the intellectual content.
The comprehensive approach to preservation entails choosing the most appropriate method of preservation for every item. This is accomplished through storage of materials in proper conditions, through careful handling and housing, through use of security systems designed to eliminate mutilation and theft, and through repair or replacement of damaged materials.
Materials of unique aesthetic or historical value should be preserved in their original form. There are many other materials whose value lies primarily, or only, in the information they contain. When repair of such materials becomes impossible or prohibitively expensive, the content may be preserved through reformatting into other media. The indefinite storage of unusable materials in the library cannot be justified. Preservation decisions must balance the constraints of cost, historical and aesthetic and scholarly value, and user accessibility.
The library staff sends the following materials to a commercial bindery to be bound: periodicals, damaged books, and monographs that were issued originally in parts. In general, bindery shipments are sent three times per year. Every effort is made to schedule shipments so there is the least disruption to patron research needs.
When the library purchases paperback editions of books, technical services staff members laminate these volumes in plastic covers before they are shelved in the stacks. If these books circulate a sufficient number of times, the volumes are sent to the commercial bindery. If the staff anticipates high use of paperback books, they are sent to the bindery immediately.
The library staff cannot send books, etc. belonging to private individuals to the bindery, nor can they do preservation/conservation work for private individuals.
On a limited basis, the library will accept donations of gift books and other materials. (See III.C. for gifts to special collections and archives.) The library director, in consultation with other library staff, is responsible for determining whether gifts will be accepted. Gifts may be added to the collection if they fit the overall profile of the collection management policy, if they do not duplicate materials already in the collection, and if they are in excellent physical condition.
Donations must be brought to the library. Library staff will give donors a gift receipt form to complete when they deliver books, etc. to the library. All gifts become the sole property of the seminary.
In most cases, decisions to weed specific items are made at the discretion of the library director within the context of the total collection management policy, so that the integrity of the collection is not compromised. In fact, the collection may be enhanced when unneeded or outdated materials are weeded.
Normally, the library will retain earlier editions of titles even when newer editions are added. When new editions of reference titles such as yearbooks, directories, or statistical reports are acquired, the outdated edition is usually weeded and put in the trash. In some cases, they will be transferred to the circulating collection.
Newspapers and popular, non-theological journals to which the library subscribes are weeded on a regular basis. These materials are available on-line through various sources for patrons who wish to do research using back issues.
Materials identified for weeding may be exchanged with other institutions, sold to students or dealers, given to other libraries, or in some other way used for the library’s benefit. In some instances, materials may be so deteriorated or otherwise useless that disposal through any of the above channels is not possible; such materials may simply be put in the trash.