Notes from the Road: California Dreamin’

Submitted by Roger Morales, ATLA Member Programs Librarian

While in the Los Angeles area for the SCATLA meeting I was able to visit the libraries at four institutions: Concordia University, Logos Evangelical Seminary, University of the West, and International Theological Seminary.

The first visit was to the library at Concordia University, nestled in the hills of Irvine, CA. As one walks into the library, there are plenty of study spaces available to students in the form of tables and recliners. Laura Guzman, Public Services Librarian, and Ramez Mikhail, Information Services Librarian, gave me a wonderful tour of the building, which includes the writing center.

With the writing center in the library, students can receive help on writing their paper and walk across the room to get help with research and citations. Ramez shared that he and his colleagues teach information literacy sessions on a weekly basis to support their online programs, which can span widely across subjects such as education, nursing, and business.

Logos Evangelical Seminary

Next on my journey was another Institutional member: Logos Evangelical Seminary. Librarian Shelley Sii gave me a quick tour of the temporary space they are occupying before moving into a new building at the end of the year. The new building will allow Shelley and her staff more room to grow their collection and also provide students with study rooms and study areas.

Because of the diverse population of students at Logos, the collection includes works in several languages, most notably Chinese resources, as seen in the photo. Shelley also shared that most classes are conducted in Chinese.

University of the West

Next up was the University of the West, one of the few Buddhist universities in the US, the other being the Allen Ginsburg Library at Naropa University. Director Ling-Ling Kuo gave me a tour of the library and their impressive Buddhist collection, which has resources for nearly every major Buddhist school. Languages of the materials include Japanese, Tibetan, Chinese, Sanskrit, and English. As you can imagine, a lot of the materials they are acquiring may not have LC authority headings, so Ling-Ling and her staff do a lot of original cataloging for these intricate Buddhist materials. One other interesting tidbit about the way Ling-Ling catalogs the materials is that she intentionally catalogs all materials together, regardless of the language in which they are written, and intermixes them throughout the collection. She said that this goes against the East Asian practice of separating materials based on their language. She explained that she wants students to be able to see the different versions and translations of a text next to each other on the shelf so that students can have a variety of versions available to them.

International Theological Seminary

The last visit was to International Theological Seminary. I had the pleasure of meeting Susan Liu in her new position as Head Librarian at ITS. Similar to Logos, ITS  has materials in in many languages including Chinese, Korean, and English. Susan explained that they have separated materials based on the language in which they are published, for example they have a Korean Collection room. However, their strongest collection is in Chinese — ITS owns roughly about 3,000 materials in the language. Susan holds private research sessions and teaches courses for incoming students in information literacy, averaging about eight students per quarter. Apart from theological training, ITS also supports an English program and their library holds an impressive English literature collection.

It was great to see the diversity and different approaches to theological librarianship on this trip. Thank you all for your hospitality and dedication to your profession.


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