Educating imaginative, resilient leaders for God's changing world.

The John Bulow Campbell Library

The John Bulow Campbell Library provides services designed to support and enhance teaching, learning and research, including: reference, circulation, reserves, interlibrary loan, and interlibrary use.

Our Mission

The mission of the John Bulow Campbell Library is to serve as a learning resource center for Columbia Theological Seminary in ways consistent with the Seminary's mission statement. The Library, therefore, operates in the context of "an educational institution of the Presbyterian Church (USA), and a community of theological inquiry and formation for ministry in the service of the Church of Jesus Christ." Through its policies and procedures, the Library is particularly responsive to the phrases from the Seminary's mission which call the Seminary "to provide theological resources for the denomination, for the ecumenical church, and for persons with a variety of theological concerns," and "to be faithful to the gospel, and to become a living expression of the Body of Christ in the world."

The particular mission of JBCL is:

  1. to enable all library users to locate and utilize any needed source of information,
  2. to collect and provide information relevant to the curriculum, as well as to the traditions of the Church and the Seminary,
  3. to serve as a gateway to both in-house and external sources and forms of information, and
  4. to promote intellectual discovery for the Seminary community. This mission is accomplished through the different services provided by the Library as a whole and by various members of the Library staff.

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)