Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Books across the Borders

The library is often referred to as the ‘jewel in the crown’ of a seminary as it represents one good measure of a seminary’s riches.

Unfortunately one of the first things to be cut in a seminary at the time of a money squeeze or financial crisis is the budget item called ‘Books’ or ‘Library’. The cost of the books and journals is steep but the shipping prices usually put the prospect well out of the park.

It concerns me when I visit seminaries in needy parts of the world to see how small the libraries often are, how much literary junk they contain, how many of the books appear to be the cast-offs from the personal libraries of former teachers and how few the number of books that exist in the first languages of the students.

A recent visit to a country and College put this issue squarely in my focus. Normally one of the advantages of attending a seminary rather than studying by distance is the chance to learn surrounded by scores of books and magazines, to be able to surf via the Internet the libraries of the world and to learn to do research by yourself.

So when money is tight seminaries get along as well as they can and it is amazing how much many do with so few resources.

It is good to see individuals and groups banding together to send books to needy seminaries and to stock the shelves of leaders. [Check out these posts and the comments]

What more is being done to address this problem?

What could be done to overcome borders of finance, language and copyright?

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Photo of the library in a College where I visited this year.