Theological Resources in the Melbourne College of Divinity
Dominican Studium Library, Camberwell
1. Profile of the library
Owned by the Dominican Order, which was founded by St Dominic de Guzman in 1216 for preaching, teaching, scholarship and pastoral care, the Dominican Studium Library is maintained by the Province of the Assumption as part of its Centre of Institutional Studies chiefly to provide educational resources for Dominican lecturers and students in support of the Province's mission to parishes, education, lecturing and other academic work, university colleges and chaplaincies, retreats and youth work in Australia, New Zealand, the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea.
The Dominican House of Studies Library began as an 'in-house' library in
1974 when the House of Studies moved from Canberra to Melbourne. Lending was restricted to members of the Dominican Province, and to lecturers and postgraduate research students from Australian theological institutions and local universities. Some of the monographs and serials from the former House of Studies Library in Canberra were brought to Melbourne to form the nucleus of the new library. The Library opened to the general public in 2001.
The Library accommodates approximately 25,000 books dealing with philosophy, scripture, patristics, theology, ethics, liturgy, spirituality, church history, homiletics, canon law, languages and Islamic studies. It specializes in Dominican literature, including a very extensive collection of material relating to the thought of St Thomas Aquinas. The journal subscription list comprises about 80 titles, again focusing on publications of Dominican and Thomistic interest. These are listed in the Australasian Union List of Serials in Theological Collections (AULOTS). There is also a small but growing number of audio-visual and CD ROM items.
The staff consists of one full-time Librarian, one salaried part-time professionally-qualified Cataloguing Librarian, one salaried part-time Library Assistant and a team of volunteer monitors. Policy is established by a Library Board whose members are drawn from the Dominican Centre of Studies.
2. Relationship to mission
The provision and development of a central corpus of thomistica benefits most immediately Dominican students in formative years as well as their lecturers. It is seen also as a resource for confreres stationed elsewhere in Australasia. Since the Library opened to the general public it has also served the needs of students, lecturers, and researchers from other institutions and traditions.
3. Purpose of the collection development statement
A particular purpose in formulating this collection development policy
statement is to make known to the wider academic community the existence
of a resource in the literature of Thomas Aquinas and more general areas
of Dominican history. It has been approved by the Dominican Centre of Institutional Studies Library Board.
4. Clientele served
The clientele includes Dominican friars, sisters, laity and associates, members of St Dominic's Parish, East Camberwell and academic staff and post-graduate and undergraduate students of the Associated Teaching Institutes of the MCD, especially the Yarra Theological Union and the Catholic Theological College, the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and the Family and state universities as well as private scholars. Any members of the general public are welcome to use the library.
Resident lecturers usually obtain research material not held by the library by travelling to other libraries. The library does not at present have reciprocal borrowing arrangements with other libraries, and requests for Inter-Library Loans are restricted to members of the Dominican Order.
Fees applicable from 2001 and still current are $20 per semester (salaried) or $10 per semester (concession rate). Fulltime students are eligible for the concession rate.
5. Access to the collection
The Library is open to the general public during term time on Tuesdays between 9.30 am and 5.00 pm, Thursdays between 9.30 am and 8.00 pm, and Saturdays between 9.30 am and 5.00 pm. Access outside of those times is by appointment.
Photocopying (per page charge) and internet access (free) are provided.
The catalogue operates as a dual system: a card index of items acquired up to the end of 2000 and an automated catalogue (using the Athena programme) of items acquired from the beginning of 2001. Information from the card catalogue is currently being progressively transferred to the computer catalogue. It is hoped that this project will be completed by 2007. The catalogue is available on-line at the Library's website.
6. Description of the collection
The Library accommodates approximately 25,000 books dealing with philosophy, scripture, patristics, theology, ethics, liturgy, spirituality, church history, homiletics, canon law, languages and Islamic studies. It specializes in Dominican literature, including a very extensive collection of material relating to the thought of St Thomas Aquinas. The journal subscription list comprises about 80 titles. The library is catalogued according to the Dewey system.
The total allocation for the library in 2004 was $55,000. Of this total
$25,000 was spent on acquisitions - $15,000 on monographs and $10,000 on
The present budgetary arrangements are reasonably firm with regard to total allocation. It should be said, however, that firm predictions as to allocation of finance in institutions such as this one last only up to the next Provincial Chapter.
8. Selection policies and procedures
The librarian holds the main responsibility in implementing the concern of the Dominican Order that the thomistic-dominicana areas in the collection be maintained and developed. Acquisitions in other specialised fields are made on the basis of lecturer suggestions and requirements, and the needs of any resident students. Acquisition policy is reviewed from time to time by the library board which works within the authority of the Dominican Province's Centre for Institutional Studies.
Acquisitions in thomistica are made in response to course bibliography requirements from lecturers or students, and on the basis of reviews in thomistic journals to which the library subscribes. With regard to notably expensive items, counsel is taken with members of the library board. Besides English and Latin editions of Thomistic and Dominican works, the library also collects monographs in French, and to a lesser extent, German, Italian and Spanish.
Material donated is accepted subject to the following conditions: that
it does not duplicate material already held, that it is regarded as significant for either thomistica or for the specialised areas, and that it is not out of date. Older works in those areas that are commonly regarded as classics in philosophy and theology are accepted.
9. Special collections
The library holds an extensive collection of works in thomistica and dominicana. Other dedicated collections are the Leonine critical edition of Aquinas' works, the Islamic collection and the Corpus Christianorum series (Latin, Greek and Medieval series). The library holds a small rare book collection. Any books over 100 years old are placed in closed Stacks and can be consulted with the librarian's permission.
The library does not purchase expensive material falling within the collection development policies of other Melbourne libraries, and outside its own special character. This was largely the reason for discontinuing the Corpus Christianorum series.
11. Cooperative relationships with other libraries
Any member of the public is welcome to join the library or simply become a reader (no fee), but there are no reciprocal borrowing arrangements with any other library at present. The Library has links to the Australian and New Zealand Theological Library Association (ANZTLA) and Libraries of Institutions Associated with the Melbourne College of Divinity (LIAM).
12. Collection evaluation
In 2004 the library underwent an evaluation of the monograph and serials collections. An annual internal review of the collection and its special nature is library board policy.
13. Preservation policy
To date the conditions of storage of monographs and serials have been adequate. Old and rare books are kept in cool conditions in a separate closed Stack room. A bookbinder has repaired a number of valuable and/or well-used items. The physical condition of the monograph collection is good. Due to the high cost of binding, the library no longer binds back issues of serials, so some wear is expected on individual issues. A compactus is planned as a storage facility to improve and extend serial and other holdings.
As a research collection, weeding is not a priority but deselection is a continuing policy. A major programme of deselection occurred some 15 years ago in which around 1,000 monographs were moved into a stacks room. A further significant weeding of the collection took place in 2004, with over several hundred books removed. Works that are not classics in their field and are out of date, and most duplicates (provided that they are not in great demand for current courses), are candidates for deselection. Deselected books are offered for sale and duplicates may be offered to needy libraries for cost of delivery. Approximately 20 journal subscription were also cancelled in 2004 on the basis of their replication in other libraries in Melbourne and their non-Dominican/Thomistic focus.
15. Review of the collection development policy
The library board working within the authority of our Centre for Institutional Studies is responsible for the review of this policy and aims to review the collection every five years.
Rev Dr Christopher Dowd, O.P.