The theological college library: an investigation into its role in ministerial education and training
2011-02-14T12:12:51Z (GMT) by
Theological libraries have tended to be treated as a homogeneous group with no distinction being made between the different types. Little has been written about the libraries of UK Christian theological colleges that train men and women for ministry. The purpose of this research was to provide some understanding of the context in which they operate. In addition it sought to establish their effectiveness in meeting the ongoing needs of their user communities. Using three college libraries, a multi-method approach was employed in order to reveal the environment in which these libraries functioned. The study comprised reviewing college documentation, using a questionnaire survey and undertaking semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions. An analysis of the interview findings is presented, together with the data obtained from the questionnaire survey and focus groups. The main issues that emerged were those concerning the changes in the delivery of theological education and the implications of these for resource provision. The need of the denominational churches to increase their recruitment for ministry whilst simultaneously reducing costs was found to have been the main driving force for change within theological education. The research found that the introduction of flexible training pathways and the diverse range of students that were now recruited for training had little effect on the way in which the traditional library service was provided by the colleges. It was concluded that since academic learning is only one aspect of ministerial training, resource provision had been given insufficient consideration and funding. This had inhibited the growth and development of the library service and prevented the college libraries from satisfying the needs of their part-time users in particular. This study makes an important contribution to the knowledge of theological college librarianship by providing an understanding of the prevailing issues and concerns. Further areas of research have been identified and conclusions drawn which are of relevance to the theological college library sector.