ILLUSTRATION BY MARGARET RIEGELCLAREMONT'S RECENT DONATION EXPANDS ACCESS TO A TREASURED COLLECTION OF BOOKS.

A quarter-million books recently donated by Claremont School of Theology (CST) to the Internet Archive Open Library will be most welcomed by theological scholars and librarians in religious and theological studies across the globe. It will have a significant impact on a field for which an estimated 70 to 80 percent of books exist only in print, and many of those are out of print.

In a decision both practical and visionary, the CST board approved the gift after it voted to move from Claremont, California, and embed in Willamette University in Salem, Oregon.

“The decision was mission driven — to increase global access to religious studies scholarship,” explains Thomas E. Phillips, dean of library and information services at CST.

Approximately 50,000 books have been shipped to Claremont’s new home 950 miles north, and the rest of the books will be digitized, making them available to a much wider audience.

The CST library is considered one of the top theological libraries in the nation. According to Phillips, it experienced a 2,500 percent increase in digital content use. “We had 290,000 print volumes that our students and faculty were silently saying they did not need, and we still had all the costs associated with carrying them. Considering this data, I recommended that CST make the donation for controlled digital lending. Our board is a strong fiduciary body — mission driven, globally minded, and fiscally responsible — and it agreed that the bulk of the print library be donated for digitization.”

“The Internet Archive is delighted to add this important collection to its Open Library program and make it widely available to scholars,” says Brewster Kahle, digital librarian and founder of the Internet Archive. “This donation shows how a growing number of libraries are increasingly providing controlled digital lending access to their collections to ensure legally purchased, library-owned and library-borrowed materials are available to researchers, readers and scholars, regardless of where they live.”


ILLUSTRATION BY MARGARET RIEGEL

 


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