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.
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.