Theological Resources in the Melbourne College of Divinity
Redemptorist Library, Kew
1. Profile of the Library
The Redemptorist Library is owned by the Redemptorist Community, an international Roman Catholic order of priests and brothers, whose primary mission is teaching and preaching. Some members of the community teach at Yarra Theological Union as well as being involved in other academic and pastoral commitments. Several of the community are involved in school and hospital chaplaincy while others run retreats and missions. In addition to serving the needs of the community the library caters for undergraduate and post-graduate theology students.
The main Library in Kew was established in 1961.
There is an excellent Social Justice Library, belonging to the community, in a room at Y.T.U., primarily for Social Justice research by one of our lecturers and students who are interested in this area. This will be discussed more fully in #9 Special Collections
Some members of the community have extensive collections in specialist subject areas e.g., sociology; ministry; religious education, spirituality and biblical studies. A number of the members of the Congregation have also studied overseas and acquisitions made during their graduate and post graduate studies have enhanced the collection. Much of this material is uncatalogued; but a start has been made to catalogue it centrally, though, currently, it is housed separately.
In 1971 a large part of the library from the Redemptorist Monastery at Ballarat was brought to Melbourne, and in 1998 when the Monastery was sold a large part of the library went to a second hand book dealer. However, valuable parts of the collection were retained and are being catalogued while other parts of the collection were forwarded to other Redemptorist communities. A number of early imprints including some large folio volumes - which were brought from Europe when the Redemptorists came to Australia late last century - were given to the Australian National Library last decade (c. 1989). These volumes came from the Redemptorist libraries at Kew and Galong.
The library is an important part of community life and has a long history of use. However it has lacked consistent professional attention, but this situation is gradually being redressed. A part-time professional librarian was employed at the end of 1997 primarily to catalogue the backlog of material, and in 1998 the library went on-line.
The Librarian reports to the Rector, who has considerable interest in the Library.
2. Relationship to mission
The Library can serve, for the most part, students in undergraduate courses; and together with the substantial private collections in the community there are valuable resources for post graduate studies. Over the years, there has been a culture of private collections but these are gradually being incorporated into a centralised cataloguing system. The next steps would be allocation of the budget for more discrete purchasing and centralised housing of material.
3. The purpose of the collection development policy statement
There has been no formal C.D.P., but the history of the development of the collection can be traced through a knowledge of who was teaching particular subject areas at any point in history. Current interests are in sociology of religion; social justice; and systematic and moral theology.
4. Clientele served
The library serves the resident community as well as our own undergraduate students and a limited number of post-graduate, post-doctoral researchers and educators. The resources of the library are available to members of the Redemptorist order, and visitors, including Y.T.U. and M.C.D. students by arrangement. Some of Australia's leading scholars and theologians use this library.
The library is not staffed most of the time and is primarily self-service. There is a borrowing system in place. Visitors must make special arrangements with the community to use the library.
Those seeking material not held by the library would travel to other libraries, or contact colleagues. Inter-library loans are minimal and relate to, and generally concern, photocopied material.
5. Access to the Collection
The bulk of the collection is catalogued on a card catalogue with author and title entries only, no subject entries. Since October 1998 cataloguing has been computerised, on the InMagic DOS system, with the added advantage of greater bibliographic control, including subject access to the collection. In this transitional stage, author and title cards are printed and added to the card catalogue. The material on computer is now accessible to the resident community via a Local Area Network and to YTU students at St Paschal Library on COLLCAT.
Access for users other than those already mentioned is by personal arrangement with the resident lecturers or by arrangement with the librarian / community. There is no fee for borrowing.
.6. Description of the Collection
The current collection includes reference materials and monographs which include texts set for courses and serials. There is an Alphonsian collection [relating to the founder of the Redemptorists, St. Alphonsus Liguori], biographies and works of fiction. There is some electronic material (e.g., CD's) but they are not publicly available and remain in the hands of lecturers.
There are selected biblical related items in Hebrew / Greek and some modern theological material in French and German in connection with the research and writings of some members of the community. Some of this is uncatalogued. There is no actual library policy concerning selection of this material and the purchasing of material is directly related to the interest areas of biblical scholars in the community.
Historically, the collection has a strength in pastoral theology in its various manifestations: moral theology, social justice and sociology of religion. It also has strengths in systematic theology and church history and more recently in religious education, Old Testament and hermeneutics. These collections are adequate for undergraduate studies and suitable in these areas for post graduate research. The collections in social justice and sociology of religion are of particular significance as is the more modest collection of Alphonsiana [see: special collections (#9)].
The Systematic Theology collection is significantly retrospective while the contemporary component reflects a more select interest in principally Catholic monographs. There is also a strong concentration on Christology which is a shared area of interest with Biblical Studies. The Religious Education Collection has a modest retrospective component, and almost all the significant English language monographs in the last decade. The contemporary material is in a private and as yet uncatalogued section. The Biblical Collection is particularly strong in the prophetic literature of the Old Testament and hermeneutics. The hermeneutic collection is relatively contemporary with a broad selection of philosophical and biblical monographs, but again this is in a private and as yet uncatalogued section.
In addition to what has been mentioned above, the library has extensive, classic, retrospective holdings in Moral Theology, Australian Catholicism, Church History and Mariology. Due to the rationalisation of periodicals and journals in the 1980's, these collections are substantially composed of monographs which reflect, to a significant degree, the denominational identity of the owners of the library.
The public can have access to these collections through an arrangement with the librarian or
a specific lecturer.
We have not kept a log of annual acquisitions, although this is now possible with the beginning of computerisation.
Current periodicals: 54
Retrospective periodical holdings: 75
A major rationalisation of our journal purchases was undertaken in the mid 80's: parts of the collection were transferred to the Y.T.U. library. At this time, we ceased unnecessary duplication of their collection.
Series received on standing order:
The New Interpreters Bible.
Indexes currently available:
ARI (Australian Religion Index)
Catholic Periodical Index (1930-1992)
Cataloguing and classification
Until October 1998 the books were catalogued by author and title only. Since that date they have been fully catalogued by author, title, series and subject etc. on the InMagic DOS system. Library of Congress Subject Headings are used, generally.
The library uses the Dewey Decimal Classification, but for the 200's it uses an adaptation of an American Theological classification system This classification system has become very dated; however the work involved in changing it would not be cost effective at this stage, therefore we have been advised to persevere and modify it where possible.
The library does not use ABN for cataloguing data. It is not a member of ABN.
At this stage the library is not converting cataloguing records to machine readable format. This is not currently on the agenda, but it could be in the distant future.
A budget figure of $10,000 is available for acquisitions ($8,000 from the Provincial Budget and $2,000 from the local community). This has been a stable figure over the last decade and it is anticipated that this will continue. None of this is related to library personnel. There is budget control, but this is related to total expenditure rather than to specific expenditure. The acquisition budget is not currently divided into discrete areas for acquisition although this is potential outcome of the C.D.P.
There has been no formal C.D.P., so acquisition has been directly related to the specific concerns of lecturers and students. This results in an uneven collection, but there are some lecturers who have been around for a long time and their disciplinary area is well covered.
The position of professional librarian is funded in part by the provincial and in part by the community.
8. Selection principles and procedures
Most of the selection of items for purchase are done by those community members engaged in research or education. The professional librarian has little or no responsibility for selection as time and priorities (cataloguing) do not permit. The community librarian is responsible for the distribution of purchasing. However, this has been very uneven and it reflects more the interests of particular lecturers than a specific policy.
The community librarian is ultimately responsible for maintaining a reasonable balance in the collection, but there have been several different librarians in recent decades and purchases reflect more the research and teaching interests of those involved in academic life.
Significant attention is paid to the emergence of new subject areas and the superior of the community, the librarian and disciplinary specialists keep an eye on the catalogues of the publishing houses, regularly visit theological book stores and read book reviews in a variety of journals. The principal criteria governing purchase are: (1) new material in a specialist subject area, (2) new items by a major author, (3) major reference works, (4) new items of general pastoral usefulness, (5) price of the text.
Texts in excess of $100, excepting reference works, require the consultation of the superior and the librarian. Journal subscriptions that exceed this figure are purchased on the simple basis that if people read them and find them useful we will acquire them.
Donated material is assessed for its value to our collection, and if it does not complement or amplify our holding in our principal areas then the material is sold.
9. Special collections
There are collections of particular significance in the following areas. Alphonsiana, social justice and sociology of religion.
Alphonsiana: Kew has a modest collection of Alphonsian material, but the largest and most comprehensive holding is in our provincial archives located in Kogarah in Sydney. There the archives together with the Alphonsiana are kept in a purpose built building and managed by a professional historian. Access to the archives is available only with the permission of the provincial and under the supervision of the archivist. The Kew collection is comprised of the principal works of Alphonsus in Ascetical and Moral Theology with a selection of later studies on The Spirituality of Redemptorists and on the significant figures of our history. The collection is comprised of material in Latin and English.
Social Justice: The Social Justice collection is housed in a specialist library set up by the Redemptorists at Y.T.U. where we have what may be one of the finest collections of social justice material in Australia. It is fully catalogued using the Dewey Decimal classification (DDC) 19th - 20th edition according to author, title, subject, chapter entries and shelf list.
It is currently on a card index at Y.T.U., but since 1998 new acquisitions have been placed on computer using the InMagic Dos system.
The collection is composed mostly of monographs in English, but there is some foreign language material. There are more than 2,750 monographs in this collection which has particular strengths in: Christianity and socio-economic concerns, economic systems and theories, church and society, social theology, political science and socialism.
Access is available to students at Y.T.U., or by arrangement with Fr. Bruce Duncan, C.Ss.R. A part-time professional librarian oversees the collection and catalogues new material.
Sociology of Religion: The Sociology of Religion Collection has an extensive number of more than 1600 monographs which reflect more than 30 years of specialised interest in this area. The catalogued material is largely retrospective, but a significant quantity of more recent material is in the process of being catalogued. At present the newer material is housed in Fr. Michael Mason, C.Ss.R.'s office. There is some foreign language material, but because of the rationalisation of journals there are only a small number of current journals. Access to the newer material is by arrangement with Fr. Michael Mason, while the remainder of the collection can be accessed with the permission of the community librarian.
The addition of a new building in 1999-2000 has eased the problem of spatial limitation. This is not the purpose of the addition but the indirect effect is that space could be freed for the housing of the collection. Since the addition all journals have been moved to the ground floor to allow easier access, particularly by the older members of the community. Typically, English is the preferred language of the monographs in the collection, but a number of people are proficient in classical, biblical and modern languages so there is some variety in resources.
The library has significant resources for post graduate students, but no full time library personnel. If someone is studying with a particular lecturer then there can be generous access to the resources, but otherwise there is a very limited on site access.
There are no limitations on the range of theological texts purchased, but we are not collectors of rare books. All purchases are subject to the criteria mentioned in #8.
11. Cooperative relationships with other libraries
The St. Paschal's / Y.T.U. library is readily accessible to our faculty and students, so approximately a decade ago we decided to reduce our periodical holdings so as not to duplicate what was available at Y.T.U. The resources that are available at C.T.C. and J.T.L. are less accessible but available for the use of faculty and students.
12. Collection evaluation
In 1993, the library was assessed by Kenneth O'Malley, CP. There had been no further evaluation, except for culling, until the Conspectus Report of 2000.
13. Preservation activity
The storage conditions of the collection are not ideal, but at Kew there is main library room and then two long corridors of approximately 50 metres each with shelving on one side of the corridor (a decade ago it was estimated that there was a kilometre of shelving). The large amount of uncatalogued material is gradually being incorporated into the system.
The Kew collection is well maintained and several years ago the entire collection was physically cleaned. This now happens on a regular basis.
There has been extensive culling of the collection over the last decade, and the cancellation of some periodicals. The culling was done by people with specialist knowledge in particular subject areas, and part of the reason for the culling was the limitations of space. Some of the items culled were distributed to other libraries, e.g., J.T.L., C.T.C., Y.T.U., O'Carm and OFM while others were sold to second hand book dealers.
15. Review of the collection development policy
It is anticipated that in future there will be reviews of the C.D.P. every five years. These will be conducted by the community librarian in dialogue with the academic staff and in cooperation with the professional librarian.
Written by Rev. Dr. Michael A. Kelly, C.Ss.R (community librarian)
Siobhan Foster (professional librarian)
Updated by Mrs. Siobhan Foster (Professional Librarian) May, 2005
Community Librarian 2005 : Rev. Dr. Bruce Duncan, C.Ss.R.