Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Cross-post: (academic) Libraries and Access

The bulk of this is a cross-post from my Discernment blog - a bit of a rant about the UCA's theological library and the fact that I would have to pay to borrow.  As I say, it's a rant.  I may get around to some helpful, logical reasoning in a future post.

I love libraries.  I'm a librarian at the moment (and some might say, by birth), so that's not surprising.

And I love the Dalton McCaughey library.  In my third year of uni, I spent a lot of time in the DML's predecessor library, in part because of the subjects I was doing, and in part because my room at St Hilda's College overlooked the library therefore I had continuous reminders of how gorgeous the rooms themselves were, and it was close when I wanted a change of scene.

The library has a fabulous collection.  There are a lot of books I'd love to read, and the access to journals, etc... but there's a couple little problems.

I live in the country.

I work full time, and am rarely in Melbourne when the DML is even open.

These two things wouldn't be such an issue, given that there are processes available

And the biggest issue?

These are the people who are allowed to borrow/have electronic access without a membership fee:

-  Students of the University of Divinity
-  Members of staff of the United Faculty of Theology
 -  Other lecturers and tutors of the United Faculty of Theology and visiting scholars recommended to the Library by the Principal of one of the three member Theological colleges
-  Members of the Society of Jesus and members of staff of bodies or institutions sponsored or supported by the Society who are recommended to Council by the Provincial
-  Ordained ministers of the Uniting Church in Australia, Synod of Victoria and Tasmania
-  Staff of the Centre for Theology and Ministry
-  Lay Pastors, Youth Workers, Community Ministers, Accredited Lay Preachers, Pastors (or equivalent, such as youth leader, pastoral visitor, worship leader or children and family worker currently in a recognised placement or appointment) in the UCA, Synod of Victoria and Tasmania
-  Candidates for Specified Ministries of the UCA, Synod of Victoria and Tasmania undertaking required studies (including candidates not at UFT or the University of Divinity)
-  Endorsed UCA members in ministry with children
-  The staff of Trinity College and members of Trinity College who are students of The University of Melbourne and/or Trinity College Theological School
-  Licensed clergy of the Anglican Province of Victoria
-  Faculty members of a Recognized Teaching Institution of the University of Divinity, including adjunct lecturers who are recommended by the Principal of their institution.
-  Faculty members of the Presbyterian Theological Hall.
-  The Master, Deans, Fellows, Directors of Studies, Resident Tutors and Librarians of Ormond and Queen's Colleges at The University of Melbourne
-  Student residents of Ormond and Queen's Colleges
-  Undergraduate and postgraduate students, and staff, of The University of Melbourne
That's a lot of people, yes.  But it's not lay people.  Regular old (and young) lay people who may well still want to educate themselves further on issues of theology. And for whom $250 per year plus postage may be rather expensive.

My mother - an accredited lay preacher - could have access, and in fact I will probably suggest it, as following the Metaxas, she wants to read decent books about Bonhoeffer, which I'm sure the DML has.

But I'm doing the PoD and I can't have access; because I live in the country I can't even go in and browse for a day or something like that.

I understand that there need to be restrictions (sort of - I mean, I understand the concept of a private/academic library), but for a church that keeps going on about how sad the state of lay education is, I find it problematic that I can't improve my own education through access to the theological library.  (Also, as an Old Hildarian - why is St Hilda's excluded from student membership?)

With the DML presumably needing to be reviewed in the near future, perhaps this is something that can be taken into consideration.  (Or, perfectly selfishly, just open up membership to PoD as well as accepted Candidates?)

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