The Keller Library provides an environment and collections to educate and form leaders for the church and resources in support of the curriculum, including advanced degree programs, of the General Theological Seminary.
The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion in a changing world are the primary context and focus of this collection. These are recognized to be broad and inclusive in their reach and interests.
The Library seeks to maintain its historic collections and enhance the resources available to its patrons through cooperation with other libraries, particularly theological libraries in the New York area.
About the Keller LibraryThe Library at The General Theological Seminary is the oldest Episcopal seminary library in the United States. In 1820, John Pintard, a civic leader of early New York, came upon a bookseller who was offering “the only set of the Fathers now for sale in America.”
In one morning Mr. Pintard raised $330 from his friends to purchase the set, and donated it to the fledgling General Theological Seminary, “to form the proud commencement of a Library.” Many of these volumes can be seen shelved in the Julius M. Cruse Rare Book Reading Room near the entrance to the library. Within a year the collection had grown to 2,500 volumes. When the Rev. Eugene Augustus Hoffman became Dean in 1879 the library embarked on a period of expansion during which the Copinger Collection of Latin Bibles and numerous illuminated manuscripts were added to the collection, and Hobart Hall was built to house it.
The Library of the General Theological Seminary has been known as the St. Mark’s Library since the 1960s. In 2011, the Library moved into a beautiful new facility on the east side of the Close, on the site of the former Sherrill Hall. In October 2011, the building was dedicated as the Christoph Keller, Jr. Library, to honor the Rt. Rev. Christoph Keller, Jr. who served as the tenth Bishop of Arkansas from 1970 to 1981.
The Keller Library has been designed as a state-of-the-art information services facility with compact shelving, wireless access and ample study space in order to accommodate the needs of both its renowned theological collections and the seminarians and scholars who use the library for research and study on a daily basis.
The architecture of the Keller Library was designed by Beyer Blinder Belle with floor-to-ceiling windows in the reading room providing dramatic sweeping views of the Seminary’s historic Chapel and gardens, and the filtered light through the tree canopies. The reading room features both formal desk space and informal comfortable seating for reading and research and is meant to be a space of study and contemplation. In the lower level, collections are efficiently housed yet readily accessible, and carrels allow for individual, focused study. Two group study rooms are fully equipped for interactive learning with Promethean boards, and the lounge and lobby outside the library provide a break-out space for conversation and coffee.
The Library’s Special Collections consist of over 30,000 volumes with an emphasis on Anglican and Episcopal documents, early Bibles and editions of the Book of Common Prayer. Rare printed Bibles include the Coverdale Bible (1535), which is the first complete Bible printed in English, and a first edition of the Authorized King James Version (1611). The collections include over 150 incunabula (printed books before 1501). Other significant holdings include works of 16th-18th century English theology, important editions of patristic texts, devotional works and sermons from the 15th to the 21st centuries.
Also included within Special Collections are the GTS Archives, which contain archival papers of many Episcopal bishops from the 18th to the 21st century, including the major collection of papers of Samuel Seabury, the first bishop of the Episcopal Church. The mission of the Archives is to identify and preserve significant and unique records generated or received by the General Theological Seminary community that have enduring value and are past the period of active use. Access to materials is regulated to safeguard confidentiality and privacy in accordance with policies established by the Library.
The library offers students in all GTS programs extensive reference help, both through its large collection of printed reference materials and through online searching. Visiting scholars, clergy and lay people from parishes across the country may use the library’s resources for reference and research. A cooperative arrangement with the Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary gives GTS students borrowing privileges at that institution as well.
The Library is a founding member of the New York Area Theological Library Association, which permits students access to the four million volumes in the collections of the 20 member institutions, and also participates in the New York Metropolitan Reference and Research Agency (METRO) cooperative, which opens to GTS students the resources of over 200 public and university libraries in the metropolitan area. Materials also may be obtained by interlibrary loan.
Library staff are actively engaged in scholarship and participate in a variety of professional organizations, including ATLA, New York Area Theological Library Association, the Episcopal Women’s History Project, the Sophia Institute, the Liturgical Commission of the Diocese of New York, the Anglican Society, the Historical Society of the Episcopal Church and the North American Academy of Liturgy.
The library staff welcomes visits from prospective students and visiting scholars; please contact the reference librarian for an appointment so that we might be prepared to assist with your research needs.
The Keller Library is on the east side of the Close; we are open seven days a week during the academic year.
Please visit our homepage for the current library schedule.
Please visit our homepage for the current library schedule.