Theological Resources in the Melbourne College of Divinity

Queen's College Library, Parkville

Policy of the Sugden Heritage Collections


1. Profile of the library
Queen's College is one of three Uniting Church in Australia (UCA) residential colleges affiliated with the University of Melbourne. The College provides academic support for its resident and non-resident students through its library and tutorial program. The Librarian is responsible to the Master, and reports annually through the Library and Archives Committee to the College Council.

The College Library dates from 1887 when Dr E.H. Sugden, the first Master, brought from England a selection of books to form the nucleus of a scholarly collection which he developed carefully over many years, later bequeathing his own personal library. From the outset the Library provided support for Methodist theological training as well as for university courses.

In addition to the Library's extensive resources for undergraduate study, Dr Sugden developed those collections now named in his honour - the Rare Books, Wesleyana and Methodistica and the Manuscript Collection - partly through purchases from second-hand dealers and partly through some notable gifts and bequests such as the Brigden Collection of Wesleyana. He himself donated his own collection of old Bibles and Testaments and approximately 400 early imprints of the works of John Wesley.

The Sugden Heritage Collections contain, in addition to the extensive Wesleyana and Methodistica, over 750 Rare Books published between 1495 and 1820. With more than 160 volumes from the 17th century and almost 300 from the 18th century, this section provides an important background to the work of the Wesleys. The Sugden Collections were retained at Queen’s when most of the College's theological books (with the exception of church history and comparative religion) were incorporated in the Joint Theological Library (JTL) at Ormond College between 1979 and 1981.

In 1987 the Featonby Library was opened within the new wing built to commemorate the College's centenary. The Featonby Library which comprises all the collections maintained for the benefit of resident students is not normally open to the public. As well as the open-access undergraduate collections, there is also in the Dowty Room a "stacks" collection of older publications, together with a New Guinea and Pacific Collection. The remaining theological material largely reflects the College's former role in theological education and is not considered likely to be of interest to other theological libraries. However, if any material in the stacks collection could provide additional useful resources for visiting researchers, it will be drawn to their attention. At this stage only records for the Sugden Heritage Collections, and not the Featonby Library, are being included in the National Bibliographic Database.

This Collection Development Statement is focussed on the Methodist material within the Sugden Collection.

2. Relationship to mission

In 1977 the Queen's College Theological Hall became part of the newly-established UCA Theological Hall, at which point the College ceased to have a direct role in theological education. The Library has, however, continued to support study and research in the Methodist tradition, and receives a small financial contribution each year from the Theological Hall to assist in making its resources available. The Library has therefore, in terms of its Wesleyana and Methodistica, a special and specific relationship with the Church's mission to collect, maintain and make available the resources required for education and research.

The Methodist Collection is developed and maintained
1. to provide the major national resource for the study of Methodist history, traditions and expression

2. to provide a reference collection for researchers, rather than a lending library

3. to facilitate controlled access to research material that is unavailable elsewhere

4. to ensure the survival of material which might not otherwise be collected or preserved
5. to provide additional appropriate supporting material for the collection.

3. Purpose of the collection development policy statement

The Collection Development Policy for the Sugden Collection of Wesleyana and Methodistica was initially approved by the Methodist Advisory Committee in 1992 and a revised version approved in 1997.

The purpose of the Collection Development Policy Statement is to provide
1. an evaluation and review of previous development
2. a guide for future acquisition
3. a basis for assessing, in conjunction with the Joint Theological Library, duplication or gaps
4. an indication to researchers of the extent and quality of the collection

4. Clientele served
Faculty: The teaching staff of Queen's College and the United Faculty of Theology
Students: Students at Queen's College, the United Faculty of Theology (UFT) and others undertaking specific research
Members of Queen's College: Those who have previously been resident students or staff of the College
Researchers: Local, interstate and international

The Sugden Collections Committee (formerly the Methodist Advisory Committee) provides expert advice to the Librarian, specific recommendations about acquisitions, and also contributes in its meetings to the development of policy. The Committee comprises inter alia the UCA Archivist, the Secretary of the UCA Historical Society, a member of the Senatus of the Theological Hall, and the Librarian of the Joint Theological Library. The Committee is the main mechanism for providing input from users and supporters into the development of the collections.

5. Access to the collection

There is a detailed Policy on Use and Access of the Sugden Heritage Collections specifying varying restrictions on use of the different collections. By appointment, bona fide researchers may use material in these collections in accordance with the Policy. It is not intended that the Collections will provide a first point of access to material that is readily available in other libraries, neither will Inter-Library Loans be provided except where material can be readily replaced.

Bibliographic records may be accessed on-site via OPACs or off-site at the Joint Theological Library or on-line via Kinetica. Periodical holdings are listed in the Australasian Union List of Serials in Theological Collections (AULOTS). The following restrictions apply:

* Unaccompanied access to the shelves is not permitted
* Material requested will be used under supervision in the Library office
* Some items may be considered too old, irreplaceable or damaged/brittle to use, except for significant research

Inter-library loans are provided only on the basis of use in the borrowing library. Except for Inter-Library loans to JTL, the Library levies the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) recommended charges which should be paid by cheque.

Inter-library loan statistics reflect these restrictions with 20 items being lent in 2004. The Library does not borrow on behalf of its own student users.

6. Description of the collection
From 1887 to 1934 the Methodist Collection reflected the scholarly concerns of the first Master. Subsequently acquisitions were less comprehensive and systematic. Gifts and bequests have provided a significant contribution. The large collections of the Methodist Lending Library and the Library of the Methodist Overseas Missions were both transferred to Queen's College in the 1960s. Since the mid-1980s, with the availability of additional funds from the Bartram Bequest for cataloguing and the contribution from the Theological Hall for acquisitions, a sustained effort has made to augment the collection, initially by seeking second-hand material to fill more recent gaps.

The main categories of material in the Collection are: reference works, monographs, serials, manuscripts, flat sheet material, microfiche, realia (Wesley memorabilia) and ephemera. There is no specific policy to acquire material in other languages, except fortuitously as donations.

The Sugden Collection's strengths are

Sugden Collection Statistics 2004/05


Total added in 2004

Total held May 2005

Reference works






Non-book materials



Serial titles



Current serial subs



Series on standing order









The Sugden Collection is of national importance for post-graduate work and advanced research. It could make an important contribution to the Melbourne College of Divinity Advanced Degree Program for any student working in this area.

7. Budget for 2005








Administration and development of the Sugden Collection is funded by the Theological Hall while the salary for Methodist cataloguing plus the current Early Imprints cataloguing project are supported by the Sugden Collections Fund, augmented by the successful Sugden Collection Appeal in 2001. Conservation work is funded through special-purpose grants from philanthropic trusts.

8. Selection principles and procedures
The Librarian is responsible for selection of material. Suggestions are received from members of the Sugden Collections Committee and from library users and researchers. No special authorisation is required for purchase of expensive items which are guided by the Methodist Collection Development Policy. Budgetary constraints do not impose restrictions on the purchase of required material.

Methodist material: Methodist orders are made within the parameters of the Collection Development Policy, however other appropriate donations are sought and accepted.

Early Imprint items
: All donations of items up to 1820 would normally be accepted.

Rare Books
published between 1821 and 1900, will be accepted if deemed supportive of the Methodist material or potentially useful within the broader College collection.

Donations of Methodist items are accepted in accordance with policy, with a check to ensure that better condition duplicates are retained in preference to worn items on the shelves.

9. Special collections

(a) Early Imprints
This impressive section contains over 750 items, the earliest published in 1495, with the majority having some theological content. It includes a collection of Bibles and New Testaments from 1568 onwards. Some items, such as the Baskerville Bible, are fine historical examples of printing and binding.

Most of the collection is in National Bibliographic Database. The incomplete and, in some cases, inaccurate records entered via the Australian and New Zealand Early Imprint Project (ANZEIP) are currently being revised, corrected and added to. The post-1821 Rare Books section, which includes little theological material, is not at this stage likely to be added to Kinetica. The classics in this section are now the Library's final priority for MARC cataloguing.

(b) Wesleyana and Methodistica
These collections constitute the most extensive and significant research resource. The Library holds an internationally important collection of over 1,200 eighteenth-century publications by or about the Wesleys. In addition to the Wesleyana, the Methodist Collection holds over 5000 works on the history and theology of Methodism in Britain and Australia including many Australian items not recorded elsewhere notably pamphlets.

Bibliographic records for the Methodist material are contributed to the National Bibliographic Database and the Joint Theological Library catalogue via batchloads twice a year. The records for the eighteenth century Wesleyana are currently being checked and augmented by a specialist cataloguer.

(c) Methodist Manuscript Collection

The Methodist Manuscript Collection contains 25 holograph items by John Wesley together with other Wesley family items. There are a further 60 letters, many by prominent Methodists including very early Australian and Pacific pioneer missionaries, with a further 26 documents of various kinds. Catalogue records for this growing collection are being contributed to the NBD and from there will be incorporated in RAAMS, the Register of Australian Archives and Manuscripts.

(d) Queen's College Archives
The College Archives, being the College's own administrative records, are separately managed by an Archivist and are not part of the Queen's College Library. It should be noted however that they include valuable research material about the College as a Methodist theological institution and also, of course, records documenting the contribution to the College's development made by prominent Methodists on the College staff and on the College Council.

10. Limitations

Accommodation for the Sugden Heritage Collections should be adequate for another 20 years.

11. Co-operative relationships with other libraries
Methodist researchers are likely also to use the resources of the State Library of Victoria, the Joint Theological Library and the Uniting Church's Victorian Synod Archives. The use of these other collections is not directly facilitated other than by providing advice.

The Library will, in principle, co-operate with other ANZTLA (Australian and New Zealand Theological Libraries Association) libraries, including of course those supporting the programs of the Melbourne College of Divinity. However, the Library is not a theological library nor is Queen's College a theological institution so the Library's co-operative role is likely to be limited to supporting specific ANZTLA projects such as AULOTS and relevant MCD initiatives.

12. Collection evaluation
Formal evaluation of collection strengths was first undertaken in 1999.

13. Preservation activity
The Sugden Room was built to ensure the long-term preservation of the College's most valuable and irreplaceable collections. It is a special atmospherically- controlled area which has been designed to minimise the risk of water damage in the event of fire. The physical condition of items in the Sugden Heritage Collections varies predictably from sound though worn older items to very brittle material on poor quality acid paper.

Systematic efforts have been made to protect material at risk, assisted by a Conservation Management Plan funded by a Community Heritage Grant from the National Library. A subsequent CHG provided funding for remedial treatment of important Wesley manuscript items. As well as eighteenth century pamphlets being been placed in acid-free envelopes and nineteenth and twentieth century pamphlets being placed in protective polyethylene bags a number of years ago, special purpose grants have enabled employment of a conservator working in accordance with the recommendations of the Conservation Management Plan.

14. Weeding
As the entire collection constitutes an historic resource for future research, there is no weeding policy except to replace inferior copies with ones in better condition as they become available.

15. Review of collection development policy
The Collection Development Policy was reviewed after its first five years by the Librarian in consultation with specialist staff and the Methodist Advisory Committee. This will continue to be done at appropriate intervals.

Louise Elliot
April 2005