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BYU donation is largest for theology

Author: Arts and Letters


The recent donation of a collection of nearly 7,000 books on Catholic theology by Brigham Young University “will richly enhance our holdings in Catholic thought and history,” says Alan Krieger, subject librarian for theology, philosophy and Jewish studies at Notre Dame’s Hesburgh Library.

While it’s not uncommon for the library to receive donations, he said, they typically are collections from private individuals and run to hundreds of volumes, not thousands.

“This is certainly the largest gift donation we’ve gotten in theology in my time here,” Krieger remarked. “It’s a very welcome addition to our collection.”

The volumes in the collection date from the late 18th through early 20th centuries, and include books on Catholic Church history, lives of the popes and saints, and Catholic theology and liturgy. Most of the collection is in French, although there are titles in German, Italian and English. BYU, Krieger said, decided that Notre Dame would be a more appropriate home for the collection.

A driving force behind the donation — “aside from the fact that French Catholic religious history is not central to their research interests,” Krieger noted — is the prospect of the material being digitized and made available to researchers everywhere.

Notre Dame is partner with a number of other Catholic universities, including Marquette, Boston College and Georgetown, on the Catholic Research Resources Initiative (CRRI), a Web-based portal that points to descriptions of various special collections and archives across the country.

“Down the road, we can anticipate that the works themselves might be digitized,” said Krieger, who can see works from the BYU being digitized as funding is available.

Titles that would meet the criteria for digitization would be those that date from the 18th or early 19th centuries, or works that are particularly important for Catholic studies research, Krieger said. Works published before 1923 are particularly suitable for digitization because copyright restrictions no longer apply.

Krieger collects in a way that is attuned to the research interests of the faculty. The collection, he said, “will certainly augment our holdings in important ways. The scope of the collection coincides with the historical strengths of Notre Dame’s theology department.”

The material will benefit researchers in several doctoral-level areas of study, including the history of Christianity, liturgical studies, moral theology and systematic theology, Krieger noted.

Cataloguing the collection will take some time. The material should become available to researchers sometime in the next 12 to 18 months. Shelf space is also a concern, Krieger said, “but we’re still in a position to accommodate materials that will enhance the research life of the University.”

Originally published by Carol C. Bradley at on March 22, 2007.