Thursday, June 24, 2010

Welcome DMin Students!

The Library joins the Seminary in welcoming DMin students to campus. Your work fills a very important role in the literature of theology: you connect theoretical concepts and models to the practical challenges of ministry. You apply critical intellect to what the Hebrew language calls: tikkun olam.

Our first advice to all Drew students: Enjoy the beauty of the setting here. The trees at Drew, which dominate the campus, have personalities of their own and, as Jewish philosopher Martin Buber taught about trees generally, enter into I-Thou relations with those who stop to notice them. Walk the campus, the many paths, and especially The Path, which connects the main campus to Green Villa apartments--it is an ideal, wooded path that gently undulates and fosters walking-meditation. You may encounter friendly deer!

Our second advice: Be prepared in your studies to have long-held assumptions questioned. The Library participates in this self-questioning daily. We, as most libraries, think of ourselves as a sanctum of learning and discovery. But where do all the books we house come from? Most of them derive from those very things we venerate on our campus: trees. Books are in that sense corpses of the once-living, or, as they have been called, "Felled Trees and Toxic Ink."1 The Library nonetheless persists in hoping that this shame does not discourage use of the books. We do, however, hold it up as the kind of contradiction that besets all serious thought.

We know that many of our students come from afar and do not have ready access at home to university libraries. Thankfully, more and more reliable scholarship is available online to aid distance students in their research. Here is a brief beginning bibliography of online sources. Two key databases for DMin students will be Research in Ministry, which indexes most DMin dissertations written in the U.S. and Canada, and Dissertations and Theses (find it listed alphabetically on this list), which offers up the fulltext, online, of many D.Min theses (and most of the Drew theses). Academic theses of any kind (Ph.D, M.A, D.Min, PsyD) are excellent sources of bibliography. Of course, students will want to consult the old, reliable ATLA index--always the starting point for religious research. The Library suggests a number of other useful online resources, including several online encyclopedias. Note especially Oxford Scholarship Online,which contains the fulltext of hundreds of books in religious studies.2

While on campus, visit the Baldwin Room in the Library, in the northeast corner of Level E (a flight up the steps when you enter the Library). That's where all the past D.Min theses are filed, by year, and within year by author last name. You can borrow these, if you like. But do not think to slavishly copy one! Each author's inspiration is her or his own.

Students new to recent methods in research may like to take our online tutorial. Anyone who takes time to complete the tutorial will be ready to go with their research! A brief review of the research process is also available. Here is a summary of available library services. And here is the page we'll follow in the library orientation sessions on the afternoon of Monday, July 19, which the library staff anticipates with pleasure!

1. Rachel Donadio, "Saving the Planet, One Book at a Time," New York Times, July 9, 2006, Book Review section.

2. When accessing Library databases from off campus, you'll be prompted for your Login ID and password.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Studying in the Library

For some of us, whether working alone or in a small group, it is easier to study in a common, communal space devoted to that purpose. The Library offers spaces for both solitary and group work, for silence and speaking, for focused attention and relaxed conversation. The space you encounter on entering the Library (level C--refer to this map throughout this posting), between the Circulation Desk and the Atrium (where the current periodicals are shelved) is a "noisy" space. Students can gather at the study tables and work together on assignments. A more enclosed space for group study is the Rose Room, on level E, just off the large reading room (called Pilling). Here, a fireplace (nonworking) and curved, wood bookshelves, set into the walls, add atmosphere. The trees hug the windows and the tops of the Corinthian columns, which flank the old (now unused) entrance to the library, visible outside, enhance the sense of height.

In addition, two sizable rooms, numbered 205 and 212, both on E level, are available for group study. These are locked and require you to sign in and obtain a key, at the Circulation Desk. They are available in 2-hour slots. Room 212, in the Rose Library, contains a DVD and VCR player. Room 205 (in the Learning Center) contains just a DVD player. Room 205 was the former office of the theological librarian. Spirits of past theological librarians may hover there, but they are friendly.

For quiet study in a large, common space, choose the Pilling Room, on Level E along the north side of the Library. The windows here face out on Drew's "front lawn," more an arboretum, really. The tall ceiling lends grandeur to the space; dissertations lining the walls, pictures of cathdedrals, and busts of eminent writers all contribute a scholarly air.

Carrels are spaced throughout the library for individual, quiet study. In addition, 2 all-day carrels are available, in the Baldwin Room (level E, northeast corner). You just sign in at the Circulation Desk and pick up a key. Consult the policy on group study spaces.

The entire library is wireless, and many study spaces have outlets, in addition, to plug in your computer. A few spaces also offer cable connection to the Internet--the study tables in the Microform Reading Room (level C, northeast corner), and the carrels on Level E, in the Learning Center, that border the Atrium. You can borrow a cable at the Reference Desk.

For plush, living-room chairs, go to the Atrium and enjoy the natural light from above. Or, if you like sitting at a picture window, find 2 comfy chairs in the philosophy section of Level E, behind the stacks labeled 181.4 D, and facing out on the open lawn behind Mead Hall. Squirrels climb the trees and birds hang upside down on the eaves. Perfect for birdwatching.

Though the Library does not (yet) have a cafe, a soda machine is available on level C in the far northwest corner of the Learning Center (where you see the phone on this map). The entry space of the library, with garden chairs and tables, is set aside for eating, chatting, and visiting, but many students also like to study there.

As you explore the study spaces in the Library, take time to notice the art: older pieces and reproductions in the Rose Library; newer pieces in the Learning Center. Lutherans will enjoy the print, hanging in the Baldwin Room, of Luther burning the pope's Bull of excommunication.
For a meditation on the Rose Window, which is overhead as you enter the Library, see an article in the Library's newsletter, Visions.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Navigating the Library, 101

Why are introductory courses so often assigned the number, 101? Perhaps because this is a palindrome, the same frontwards and backwards, as though to suggest ease of access and assimilation. Unfortunately, the concept of ease does not apply to the topic of navigating the Drew Library. It is not clear which is front of the building, and which the back. There are really two fronts, on the model of a two-headed mythological beast. The building is a composite of two structures, one from the 1930s (the Rose Library) and the other from 1980s (The Learning Center). The entrance to the older structure, which is now closed, is beautifully columned and stepped, and leads onto a room, now largely vacant, but which will one day become a stunningly gorgeous reading room. The entrance to the new stucture (the current entrance) is beautifully glassed, and leads to a lovely atrium with tables and chairs that invite meeting, eating, and talking. Note the stained glass window over the entrance.

For left-brained visitors (if you click this link, see question #7), there are maps. It is always harder to be right-brained in this world. For such, the easiest thing is to ask a staff member for help finding your way. Librarians and staff are typically hovering about the circulation desk or the reference desk, which you encounter on entering the building. If you tell staff where you want to be, they will often personally accompany you to your destination.

Theo students will enjoy knowing that most of the theological books are in one place: on "Level E," which is upstairs, and towards the north end of the floor. However, Bible and biblical criticism are a stairway above, on level F. (The narrow stairway in Rose Library is navigable and the old elevator next to it is faithful and tireless.) For the directionally attuned: head to the northwest corner of "Level E" for the newer books, which inhabit a room called "The Cornell Room," after the name of the first Drew theological library, and its donor, which and who are no more. Theological reference books are on level C, in the stacks along the west wall of the main floor. Bound journals are in movable shelves on level A (basement).

Complicating navigation of the building are the two classification systems in play: Dewey Decimal and Library of Congress. We no longer classify any books in the Dewey Decimal system. And all books so classified are in stacks along the north wall of Level E. All newly acquired books are classified in the Library of Congress system and shelved in the Cornell Room (northwest corner of Level E).

None of this addresses the third building that belongs to the library: the Methodist Library, across from the Learning Center. Note the Methodist Librarian's blog.

A tip for theo students who find themselves in the library with a few spare moments: browse the D.Min dissertations, filed by year in the Baldwin Room, on Level E in the northeast corner of the library. The topics are practical, directly relevant to ministry, and a tribute to the many connections between academic study and real-life pastoring.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Libraries, Librarians, Research

Libraries and churches have much in common. Both can serve, in different ways, as sanctuaries (for the homeless, for example: library ministry to the homeless, church ministry to the homeless); both are interested in communication and service; both channel a sense of mission for those committed to them. Does your church have a library? If not, explore the possibilities of one, via the Church and Synagogue Library Association.

Remember that today, the word “library”—which is literally bookary (on the model of rookery!, a nest for books)—is a misnomer, since libraries collect all kinds of things, including access to online databases.

A stereotyped librarian is ISTJ on the Myers Briggs Indicator Test. But actual librarians fall all over the scale. They can be: extroverted, radical, occult-ish, chic. Never hesitate to contact one for: research help, open-mindedness, empathy.

Research has more in common with religion than first appears: by their shared use of the little prefix, "re," they both connote repetition. Why shouldn't research be prayerful? Sometimes the library will feel a little like a verse from Ecclesiastes: "[There is] a time to seek, and a time to lose" [Eccles 3:6]. And where is the time for finding (the book you need)? Pace Ecclesiastes, the librarians will help make that time.

Over the summer (Aug 6 - Aug 29) the Drew University Library is open:
Mon. - Fri.: 9 am - 5 pm
Closed Saturday and Sunday.
Regular hours resume August 31.

Make time to visit!