Celebrate Theological Libraries Month!

by R.C. Miessler, Head Editor, INALJ Indiana

Celebrate Theological Libraries Month!

rcmiesslerWhen people ask me, “What do you want to do with your library degree?” laying out my vocational path of theological librarianship can be difficult to explain. After advising that I’m not going to be working in a church library or shelving Bibles all day, I let them know the importance of libraries in seminaries, how digital scholarship is changing the humanities, how theology students need information literacy training. In short, we have the same challenges and rewards that other librarians have, just tailored for a very specific audience. However, theological librarians aren’t just in seminaries and theological schools … we are subject liaisons in larger institutions, we serve as the librarian in smaller schools, and yes, some of us  do indeed work or volunteer at churches, synagogues, mosques or other religious institutions. The point is, we’re everywhere!

Thankfully, our field has a very supportive professional community – the American Theological Library Association (ATLA). We have a number of resources available to us, including our open access online journal Theological Librarianship, conferences, numerous professional development opportunities, and even a course on theological librarianship at the University of Illinois. In addition to resources geared towards the professional life of theological librarians, ATLA provides a number of databases and indexes, both free and paid, that are used by scholars of religion around the world. ATLA has also declared October as Theological Libraries Month, and many libraries and institutions will be celebrating our vocation. If you’re a theological librarian, be sure to use the TLM in a Box for posters, logos and bookmarks; if not, support us by attending theological librarianship events in your area, helping with promotions at your institutions, or just stop by to tell us we’re doing a good job!

Be sure to support your favorite theological libraries and librarians in October!

Some ideas for celebrating Theological Libraries Month:

  • Treat a theological librarian their favorite bribe (I’m partial to a nice bourbon or a good book).
  • Hold a meet and greet with theological library staff.
  • Offer tours to the community served by the library.
  • Hold a book sale/giveaway with weeded items or donations.
  • Create exhibits of rare and special book collections.
  • Host lectures and talks about the work of theological librarians.
  • Hold a book spine poetry contest.

More resources for theological librarianship can be found at:

Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion – Theological Librarianship