Notes from the Road: Member Visits in Minneapolis

Submitted by Roger Morales, ATLA Member Programs Librarian

At the beginning of June, I had the opportunity to attend the Minnesota Theological Library Association’s (MTLA) conference held on Friday, June 9, 2018. During my time in Minneapolis, I visited two Institutional members: North Central University and Bethlehem College and Seminary.

North Central University

My first visit was at T.J Jones library at North Central University named after Rev. Thomas James Jones (1896-1970). Originally from England, Rev. Jones joined the faculty at North Central in 1946. A highly-skilled teacher who valued reading and study, he donated a large portion of his personal library to help North Central start its first library collection, which now holds about 50,000 print volumes.

The building was originally the Tourtellotte Memorial Deaconess Home, in association with Asbury Hospital, and one can still see the remnants of that layout today. The main example of this is stacks on the second floor of the library. As seen below, the stacks are set in the old deaconess bedrooms complete with walk-in closets and all! The building boasts some unique Victorian originals from chandeliers to a large standing mirror in the main lobby along with its grand staircase entrance guarded by lions.

Library Director Judy Pruitt informed me that the library and its three full-time employees support student studies in biblical studies, education, and fine arts in worship to name a few degrees offered at North Central University. Judy is passionate about finding new ways to continue to support their student body while maintaining a robust collection. Speaking of maintenance, Judy shared that last summer they had a major book shifting to condense and shelf books in an intuitive fashion where students can browse the stacks easier and in a natural flow on the main floor of the library.

MinneapolisBethlehem College and Seminary

My next stop along my Minneapolis trip was Bethlehem College and Seminary just down the road from North Central University. The seminary is affiliated with Bethlehem Baptist Church and Head Librarian Barbara Winters described the curriculum at Bethlehem as very hands-on, coupling the theoretical with experiential learning. Students partner with a local church, mainly with the sponsoring Bethlehem Baptist Church, and so that they can engage with the community as they complete their MDiv degree and training.

Given the size of the student body, which is around 200 FTE, and the fact that the seminary is only 20 years old, the library collection lives in a cozy building that offers students a place to work and collaborate. The print collection totals around 7,000 print volumes and around 150,000 in e-books. Barbara and one other employee make up the library staff and are accompanied by five student workers.

The collection is cataloged in a cross between Dewey and some elements of Library of Congress and as of right now, Barbara does not have the intention to change their scheme completely to a single system. As Barbara continues to settle into her new role, she would like to add more art and plants to spruce up the place a bit.

See you on the next trip!

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