Langham Books at ATLA 2017

No Dusty Books Here

BY tsands | 30 June 2017 |

Taking Majority World Theology to American Libraries

Earlier this month Langham Creative Projects had the opportunity to attend the annual conference of the American Theological Library Association (ATLA) in Atlanta, USA. This conference sees the coming together of over 300 individuals involved in library activities at institutions (mainly in the USA) that offer theological and religious studies. The conference involves seminars and workshops as well as opportunities for attendees to meet and network with other librarians and those involved in library services, as well as exhibitors that offer library support services or publish books.

Langham Books at ATLA 2017

New Books, New Territory

This was Langham’s first year attending the conference and we were warmly welcomed by the ATLA staff as well as all the attendees. It was exciting to showcase the latest publications we have from our Majority World authors and introduce people for the first time to imprints like Langham Monographs and growing series like the Asia Bible Commentary Series. What was really exciting was the extremely positive reception of what we are doing – encouraging, publishing and promoting non-western theology. Langham does this work first and foremost for the Majority World regions where books originate, but these voices can be of great benefit in the West too. In a Western landscape of declining church numbers and increasing secularisation many are now realising that the Majority World church is now redefining Christianity — positively! The books we publish are a testament to the global church we are all part of and it was our pleasure to introduce our books for the very first time to many librarians in attendance.

Unexpected Encounters

During the conference we were pleasantly surprised to meet Yesan Sellan, the Chief Librarian of South Asia Institute of Advanced Christian Studies (SAIACS) in Yesan Sellan, Librarian, SAIACS , Bangalore
Bangalore, India. Yesan has been traveling to the USA to attend the ATLA conference for several years so that he can stay informed with the latest trends in librarianship, develop networks and keep himself up-to-date on the latest releases in research databases and publications. Langham Literature has been partnering with SAIACS for several years, providing library grants and access to subsidised books. It was therefore a delight for Langham staff member Luke Lewis to meet with Yesan for the first time after years of email communication, and to hear first hand of the various initiatives Yesan oversees to make the SAIACS library one of the best theological libraries in the region.

Hidden Labour

John Stott always emphasised the vital role books played in studying, teaching and preaching, and understood the role that the library played and this was one of the main reasons he started the Evangelical Literature Trust, to support institutional libraries so that they could support the next generation of Bible teachers.

Meeting all the librarians at the ATLA conference we are reminded that these people are far from their clichéd portrayal of secluded individuals, wearing cardigans and surrounded by dusty old books, but librarians are in fact the beating heart of institutional research. They are constantly researching and sourcing books, journals and research databases that will be of benefit to their faculty and student body as well as maintaining and developing services to deliver these resources. As technology develops so too does the complexity of their job, dealing with new software and procurement procedures. All of this is done, in many situations, under an extremely small budget with many librarians having to be both creative and tireless in sourcing as much as they can for as low a cost as possible. They are a fine example of servanthood and should certainly not be under-appreciated!

Playing a Part

Langham Literature supports over 600 Majority World colleges each year with access to book grants and subsidised buying programmes. This provides librarians, or those serving the library, with easy access to ordering thousands of books, including our own publications from over 100 publishers through a single point-of-service, saving those librarians time and making their budgets go even further. Many institutions report that we are their only source for acquiring books for their library. If you are connected with a Majority World college who is not yet a member of our Literature program find out more about how they can benefit here. To support the work of our Literature program you can also learn how you can get involved by visiting our website.

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