Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary Joins Columbia University Libraries in 2004

NEW YORK, March 17, 2003 - Columbia University Libraries is pleased to announce that effective July 1, 2004, the Burke Library at the Union Theological Seminary will become part of the Columbia University Libraries. Under the agreement signed on Tuesday, March 11 between Columbia University and Union Theological Seminary, Union's library will retain the name Burke Library as well as its basic theological character. The Burke's collection, service, and technology programs will be fully integrated into the Columbia Libraries, directed by James G. Neal, University Librarian and Vice President for Information Services.

As part of the Columbia University Libraries, the collections at Burke will continue to expand. In addition, new information services will be available to the Seminary's students, faculty and researchers, such as digital library, electronic publishing, and online education resources of the Columbia Libraries and Information Services Division. The strong collection preservation/conservation and rare book/manuscript capabilities of the Columbia Libraries will be extended to the Union collections.

"We are extremely pleased to have this wonderful asset," said James Neal. He continued, "The Burke Library is magnificent and the collections are outstanding. It is especially important to maintain the Burke's collections intact and in the Morningside Heights community of New York City where they are accessible and used by scholars and theologians from around the world."

The Burke Library is in the process of completing a $2.5 million renovation of its facility funded as part of an $8 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. In addition to the extensive physical plant improvements, the grant from the Endowment is being used to develop a conservation/preservation program, to process several archival collections, to preserve an audio-recording collection, to support the Burke Library Scholars-in-Residence program, and for retrospective acquisitions and the cataloging of those materials. Lilly Endowment funding is also allocated for future off-site storage of portions of the collection. In addition, through a $1.25 million Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant, the Burke Library is converting their catalog records to electronic format. The collection of over 700,000 items will become the property of Columbia Libraries and the records of the Burke Library holdings will be converted into Columbia's online catalog providing increased access to both collections. The library building itself will remain the property and the responsibility of the Seminary.

Sara J. Myers, Director of the Burke Library, said, "We look forward to the benefits of becoming part of the Columbia University Libraries. We are especially pleased that the integrity and focus of the Burke Library collection will be maintained. We anticipate being able to offer even better service to the faculty, students and other scholars who use the library regularly."

The Burke Librarian will participate fully on the management team of the Columbia Libraries, and a Union Library advisory committee will be established. This partnership between Columbia and the Seminary will preserve and enhance to the benefit of both institutions one of the most important theology collections in the world.

The Burke Library, the largest theological library in the western hemisphere, contains 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, not only serving the faculty, staff and students of Union, but also a wide spectrum of national and international scholars and researchers. Information about the Burke Library is located on its web site at http://www.columbia.edu/cu/lweb/indiv/burke/index.html.

Columbia University Libraries is one of the top ten academic library systems in the nation, with 7.5 million volumes, 49,000 serials, as well as extensive collections of electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms and other non-print formats. The collections and services are organized into 22 libraries, supporting specific academic or professional disciplines. The Library's web site at http://www.columbia.edu/cu/lweb/ is a gateway to the print and electronic collections and to services.


James G. Neal
Vice President for Information Services and University Librarian
Columbia University Libraries
Columbia University in the City of New York

Joann Anand
Communications Director
Union Theological Seminary

3/17/03 KRS