Presbyterian and Reformed

Members Present

  • Christopher Richardson, Union Presbyterian Seminary, Convener
  • Margaret Alkema, Canadian Reformed Theological Seminary
  • Steve Jamieson, Covenant Theological Seminary
  • Andrew Stout, Covenant Theological Seminary
  • Andy Thomas, Covenant Theological Seminary
  • Becky Givens, Covenant Theological Seminary
  • Denise Pakala, retired, Covenant Theological Seminary
  • Jim Pakala, retired, Covenant Theological Seminary
  • Virginia Dearborn, Princeton Theological Seminary

Absentee Members

  • David Schmersal, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary
  • Ed Hughes, Memphis Theological Seminary
  • Bart Voskuil, Mid-America Reformed Seminary
  • Sharon Taylor, Shadyside Presbyterian Church
  • John Shaffett, Shorter University


Chris welcomed everyone to the virtual meeting and invited attendees to introduce themselves, share library news and other institutional updates, and offer key takeaways or insights from this year’s conference. There was an in-person gathering during the conference, but the group agreed to hold the primary meeting online after the conference and received no notes or reports about the in-person meeting.

There was some preliminary conversation about the increasing number of non-Presbyterians enrolled and/or employed at historically Presbyterian institutions, and some closing conversation about Michael Farrell’s conference paper, Slavery, The Spirituality of the Church, and American Presbyterianism.

Round Robin Reports

Canadian Reformed Theological Seminary (Hamilton, Ontario, Canada) – Margaret Alkema, Librarian, shared that although the pandemic initially sent courses online, there is a pull to bring classes back to in-person only or to require at least 50% of the 4-year degree program to be completed in person.

Covenant Theological Seminary (Creve Coeur, Missouri, USA) – As the only attendee who had also attended the in-person conference this year, Andrew Stout, Public Services Librarian, mentioned that he spoke with Michael Farrell (who gave a talk entitled Slavery, The Spirituality of the Church, and American Presbyterianism), Brian Shetler (new Head of Special Collections and Archives at Princeton Theological Seminary, and fellow denominational group member Sharon Taylor.

Steve Jamieson, Library Director, talked about the library’s partnership with the Internet Archive and its Open Libraries project,, and providing a digital loan service, Some classes were already being offered online or hybrid prior to the pandemic, so it wasn’t quite as much of a shift as at many other Atla institutions.

Becky Givens noted that the Internet Archive MARC records weren’t very good and required additional work.

Denise Pakala retired from technical services but works part time a few hours a week on special projects. Right now she’s inventorying the rare book room. Jim Pakala, Denise’s husband, is also retired but remains active in Atla and MOBIUS.

Princeton Theological Seminary, Wright Library (Princeton, New Jersey, USA) – Virginia Dearborn, Discovery and Web Services Librarian, mentioned the library’s recent naming in October 2021 for Princeton Theological Seminary’s first African American graduate, Theodore Sedgwick Wright (Class of 1828). He served as the pastor of the Shiloh Presbyterian Church of New York City (formerly First Colored Presbyterian Church of New York City) from 1829 until his death in 1847. Wright was one of the founders of the American Anti-Slavery Society and served as chair of the New York Vigilance Committee, which worked to prevent the kidnapping of free African Americans.

Christopher J. Anderson joined the staff as Head of Public Services in October 2021. In this new role, he also serves as the library’s reference librarian. In December 2021 library staff member Lydia Andeskie was appointed Archivist. Although the seminary’s emphasis remains on in-person formation, there is more openness to online/hybrid learning than in pre-pandemic times, which has implications for the library in terms of collection development and access.

Union Presbyterian Seminary (Richmond, Virginia, USA) – Christopher Richardson, Seminary Librarian, shared that Union Presbyterian had hosted two decennial accreditation site visits in March 2022 (ATS-COA and SACSCOC). Based on the findings of its Self-Study, the Seminary is working to increase diversity in a number of ways and to attend to matters of equity across its two campuses. It is also working to make physical and digital resources more accessible to an increasingly diverse and distributed student body. A Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) submitted to SACSCOC focuses on “enhancing the information fluency of seminary students.” Morton Library in Richmond is also about half-way through a large reclassification project (from Pettee to LC) which will make things easier going forward but it is a heavy lift at the moment.


Chris also invited discussion about Michael Farrell’s presentation at the conference. There was interest among the group in reading the conference proceedings when they come out; Andrew had attended the talk in person but had to leave our denominational Zoom meeting a little early.