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Library Mission and History


Trask Library Mission Statement

It is the mission of the Franklin Trask Library to serve the faculty, students, and staff of Andover Newton Theological School as well as the larger academic and pastoral community. To fulfill its task, the Library must build and maintain a collection of materials which supports the academic course work as well as the research and reference needs of our clientele.

Goals and Objectives of the Franklin Trask Library
The Franklin Trask Library plays a unique and essential role in the educational and research programs of Andover Newton Theological School. Library collections are created to respond to the actual and anticipated demands of users of those collections. These goals provide the guidelines for both collection development and assessment. They also serve to identify whether the collection has been managed to respond satisfactorily and responsibly to the mission of the Library. In order to fulfill its mission the Library has established the following general goals:
  • The Library shall provide its constituency with the religious and theological materials of the traditional disciplines of the past and present. These materials must be representative of the diversity to be found within religious, theological and non-religious subject areas in retrospective as well as current thought. They should be ecumenical in nature and span the range of media available.
  • The Library shall provide materials needed to support the basic degree programs of the school.
  • The Library shall provide materials that permit its constituency to undertake research in the subjects for the writing of essays, dissertations, and projects.
  • The Library shall provide materials for in-depth study where their studies and reflections have stimulated users to pursue topics of a particular interest not required by the curriculum.
  • The Library shall provide materials that will assist users in their religious and professional growth and development. It shall provide the expertise and training necessary to fully utilize the resources available to all its users.

A History of the Franklin Trask Library

In the Beginning
The library of Andover Newton Theological School is one of the oldest theological collections in the United States. From its inception, the Faculty and Trustees of the old Andover Seminary considered the Library to be essential for theological scholarship and an educated ministry.

In the early years the library fell under the oversight of various professors and Trustees who took upon themselves the task of ordering books for the collection. In 1810 the Seminary voted the princely sum of $150 a year as a salary for a student librarian to maintain its activities. Every student was required to pay a library tax of $3.00 annually. For this amount the student was permitted to check out three books for a period of 3 weeks. Professors could take up to twelve. The library was open one hour a day during the week and two hours on Saturday, the only day when books could be checked out. Only four students were allowed in the Library at one time, perhaps to insure a quiet atmosphere. Like its modern counterparts, the old Andover Library had its problems with disappearing books. The first record of missing books appears in 1833. The Trustees expressed amazement that a theological student could be guilty of such an infraction of rules and ordered the guilty person to return the books at once. There is no record to indicate if the books were indeed returned. It was in 1866, with the appointment of William Ladd Ropes, an Andover graduate, that the Seminary had a full-time librarian. For almost forty years he added significant books to the collection, modernized the catalog, and assisted students with bibliographic research.

As early as 1810 money was set aside in the Seminary budget to purchase books for the Library. Most of the titles purchased were biblical and exegetical studies including a large number of rare volumes imported from Europe. By 1834 the Library had more than 13,000 volumes. And by 1885 the collection had grown to 40,000 books and more than 18,000 pamphlets, with strengths in biblical studies, doctrinal theology and Congregational history. Andover Seminary moved to Cambridge in 1908 and approximately 60,000 volumes of the Andover Collection were joined with the Harvard Divinity School Library in Andover Hall where they are housed today.

The Twentieth Century
In 1931 Andover Seminary once again moved, this time to Newton Centre to affiliate with the Newton Theological Institution. The collection at Newton, mainly biblical and pastoral studies and Baptist history, had been housed in the Hills Library, the yellow brick portion of the present library building. By the 1970's the old building was filled to capacity and a new addition and extensive renovation took place. The resulting structure, dedicated in 1979, was named the Franklin Trask Library in honor of a principal donor and Andover Newton Trustee.

The new addition provided for more office space, stack areas, and a protected area for special collections and archives. The general collection, reflecting the denominational affiliations of the parent institutions, continues to expand its Baptist and Congregational holdings. In addition, library users will find a large collection of psychology and counseling, New England theology, and biblical studies.