New SVOTS Librarian is part of ongoing reimagining of Florovsky Library

Dr. Ionut-Alexandru Tudorie, academic dean of St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary (SVOTS), has a clear vision for the Father Georges Florovsky Library. "I want St. Vladimir’s Seminary to be a hub for Orthodox scholars. Relating to this goal, we have been working to grow and put more resources into the Seminary’s Father Georges Florovsky Library. Having the best research library possible is an important piece in attracting the best scholars to St. Vladimir’s."

The Library at SVOTS has always been considered one of the Seminary’s greatest assets, with over 230,000 volumes in holdings ranging from the sixteenth to the twenty-first centuries. It has been called the “richest library of Eastern Christian holdings in the Western Hemisphere” by Dr. James Billington, the former Librarian of Congress (1987-2015). In addition to serving the students, faculty, and alumni, the Library is now used by scholars from all over the world, and many outside patrons are requesting use of library materials.

Today, a reimagining of the Library’s interior, a significant expansion of its serials and databases, and a plan to create a “marketplace of ideas” for students to hone their research and writing skills will make the Library an even greater academic resource for seminarians and outside scholars alike.

The Library recently increased its holdings in academic databases. It has acquired access to the JSTOR database, which includes a wide range of periodicals in the field of humanities. The Library continues to make available to students the ATLA Religion Database, the major database for religious study. The Library’s collection of printed serials is also being evaluated with plans to acquire more titles. Since 2018, students and members of the public have also had access to hundreds of recordings of old lectures and talks through digi.svots.edu. Thanks to a grant from The Virginia H. Farah Foundation , the old analog recordings of renowned figures—including Frs. Alexander Schmemann, John Meyendorff, and Thomas Hopko, Metropolitan Kallistos Ware, Sophie Koulomzin, Jaroslav Pelikan, and many others—were digitized and made available for free.

This summer, Dr. Tudorie’s vision for the Library received a boost with the addition of a new librarian, Yale Divinity School graduate Danielle Earl. With extensive experience at academic libraries, Danielle has already implemented innovative ideas so that every resource and aspect of the Library will be fully integrated into seminarian life.

She is transforming one of the library meeting rooms into what is being called “The Lyceum,” a sort of “marketplace of ideas.” Students will be able to schedule times at The Lyceum to discuss their academic research and receive assistance with their papers from more experienced students, so that the quality of those papers will be at a truly graduate level. Groups of students will also meet at The Lyceum to hear faculty members discuss their particular research interests, further synthesizing community life at the Seminary.

“The Library is here to serve seminarians and their needs and interests,” said Earl. “We want them to explore Orthodoxy by bringing Orthodoxy to them at different levels, whether that be through The Lyceum or a lecture sponsored by the Library.”

Earl has also devoted a room for cataloguing and organizing the Library’s holdings of rare books and papers, including the papers of former St. Vladimir’s deans, Frs. Georges Florovsky and Alexander Schmemann. Once cataloguing and digitization is completed, students will be able to either request photocopies of the rare books and papers or view them online.

The Library’s holdings of rare books includes The Ostrog Bible, the first printed Bible in the Slavic script (1581), which was donated to the Seminary by Archbishop John of San Francisco. There is also the Gospel of St. Matthew in the Alaskan language of Aleut, translated by St. Innocent of Alaska (1840), and other rare books and manuscripts in Arabic, Russian, Armenian, Georgian, and French.

“The Library is supposed to be not just the library of SVOTS but the archival library for the Orthodox Church in America,” says Danielle Earl. “We want to live up to our name and build on that reputation. At the same time, we want the Library to present Orthodoxy in America and not just American Orthodoxy.”

In short, the library at St. Vladimir’s is taking on new life. The library will continue to serve its diverse community—seminarians, faculty, staff, researchers, and those interested in the Orthodox tradition at large—with renewed vision. Only by doing so can Dr. Tudorie’s vision of a “pan-Orthodox hub” be realized, bringing St. Vladimir’s into the next phase of its life as a premier seminary for Orthodox education, mission, and research.

To learn more about the Father Georges Florovsky Library and its services, visit the Library’s website.

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