Beth Bidlack Appointed Director of Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary

Beth Bidlack

“We are thrilled to welcome Beth Bidlack as the new Director of the Burke Library.  She will lead a talented team to actively support research and teaching at Union Theological Seminary and for the broader religious studies communities at Columbia,” said Damon Jaggars, Associate University Librarian for Collections and Services.  “Beth brings extensive academic and professional expertise that will prove invaluable for building and providing access to deep research collections and promoting innovative service models for theological research and education.”

An accomplished librarian, Bidlack served as Bibliographer for Religion and Philosophy at the University of Chicago Library, Librarian and Assistant Professor of Biblical Languages and Literature at Bangor Theological Seminary, and Bibliographer in Theology at the Episcopal Divinity School and Weston Jesuit School of Theology Library.

Bidlack holds a Ph.D. in Religious and Theological Studies from Boston University, a M.S. in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a M.T.S. from Boston University School of Theology, and a B.A. in Philosophy and Religion from Urbana University.  Beth currently serves on the Board of Directors of the American Theological Library Association.  She has written widely within the theological library literature community and has extensive experience in theological education.

As Director of the Burke Library, Bidlack brings a forward-thinking approach to managing collections and services. She will provide leadership for collection development and for services and outreach to Union Theological Seminary and Columbia University. She intends to continue the work of describing, preserving, and promoting the unique collections of the Burke Library and to balance the richness of the Library’s historical collections with new technology and services.

 “I appreciate the forward-looking leadership team of the Columbia University Libraries and have a deep respect for the history of the Burke Library and Union Theological Seminary. I was especially drawn to the notable special collections at the Burke Library and plan to continue making more of these materials accessible for research and teaching. I am honored to join the impressive network of colleagues within the Columbia University Libraries and Union Theological Seminary.”

The Burke Library is the largest theological library in the western hemisphere, containing rich collections for theological study and research. With holdings of over 700,000 items, the Library is recognized as one of the premier libraries in its field and includes extensive holdings of unique and special materials. Throughout its long history, the Library has maintained its commitment to the needs of both teaching and research, serving not only the faculty, staff and students of Union Theological Seminary and Columbia University, but also a wide spectrum of national and international scholars and researchers. The Library is named in honor of Walter Burke, a generous benefactor to the Library who served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Seminary from 1976 to 1982.

Columbia University Libraries/Information Services is one of the top five academic research library systems in North America. The collections include over 11 million volumes, over 150,000 journals and serials, as well as extensive electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, maps, and graphic and audio-visual materials. The services and collections are organized into 22 libraries and various academic technology centers. The Libraries employs more than 500 professional and support staff. The website of the Libraries is the gateway to its services and resources: