Sunday, November 6, 2016

The Future of the Small Theological Library

Lazo, Rachael
Fall 2016

Kennedy Stevens, M. (2016). The future of the small theological library. Theological Librarianship, 9(1), 28-32.

This article is a summary of and later reflections on the event “The Future of Libraries in Theological Education: A Conversation with Chief Academic Officers, Information Technology Officers, and Library Directors” hosted by ATs/ATLA. The article addresses the conception, even present within the Theological Librarianship field, that the small theological library simply does not have the capabilities or resources to keep up with changing times and technological innovation. She finds, through research and the concerns raised at the event, that the small theological library, which is dependent on the educational institute that they are a part of and the churches that institute partners with, faces dual-front difficulties, one in the “rapidly changing landscape of religion and theological education,” and the other keeping abreast of the tide of information and being able to remain relevant. In order to remain relevant going forward into the future, the small theological library is urged to be forward thinking and use their small size to become intimately and personally acquainted with the needs of the community, which will aid in being able to anticipate future needs.

This article raises some excellent questions about theological librarianship’s future, particularly in the small setting where resources are limited. Her urging to think of the smallness as a strength and not a weakness is a good beginning direction to change course, and the problems that were discussed are very useful to consider for existing libraries, but I do not feel that the solutions proposed were practical enough- she had practical applications, but they did not actually address the issues of keeping up with technology and change, only remaining relevant. In the realm of a small theological library, however, the librarian and the library staff may not have as much power as they would like over that compared to the college as a whole, so it is a good example of what can be done with the resources at hand.

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