Collection Development Policy

Revised Edition: September 1999

Mission Statement

The mission of Andover-Harvard Theological Library is to support Harvard Divinity School in its work of educating women and men for service as leaders in religious life and thought. It also serves as a source of materials on religion for the entire Harvard University community, and, to a lesser extent, for graduates of the University, for the theological schools that make up the Boston Theological Institute, for ministers in the vicinity of Cambridge, and for researchers and lay people throughout the world—especially those interested in the Unitarian and Universalist heritage—who have a scholarly need to consult the collections.


Books on religion at Harvard have had a long and important history. Almost three-fourths of John Harvard's gift in 1638 of 400 volumes were on theological topics. Today the Divinity School's Andover-Harvard Theological Library contains nearly 450,000 volumes that are supplemented by hundreds of thousands more elsewhere at the University. The library is recognized nationally for its research depth and is a leader among theological libraries. The staff consists of six professionals, most with one or two master's degrees. There are eight supporting staff, several of whom also have graduate degrees. Planning is currently underway for a new and renovated library facility that will enhance current services to support research and instruction within the School well into the twenty-first century.

This statement continues a tradition in the library of periodically publishing a Collection Development Policy statement. The purpose of this is to inform the Dean, faculty, students, and others who use the library what is collected and at what levels to support research and instruction, from minimal to comprehensive. It also makes references to other important Harvard collections, as well as to those that are available in the libraries of the Boston Theological Institute, of which Harvard Divinity School is a member. This current Collection Development Policy statement follows the format of the statement last published in 1984 by then librarian Maria Grossmann. It employs a method of evaluating the research strength of the collections of research libraries developed by a committee of the American Library Association.

Earlier statements had also been prepared. In 1915, Archibald Cary Coolidge, Director of the University Library, made a 'Proposal for an Agreement as to the Division of Certain Subjects between Harvard College Library—Andover-Harvard Library—Semitic Library,' which included a 'Suggested Distribution of Works in the Semitic Languages' prepared by Professor George F. Moore. In 1959, James Tanis, Librarian of Andover-Harvard Theological Library, and Walter Grossmann, Head of the Book Selection Division of the Harvard College Library, wrote a detailed statement about the book collecting responsibilities of the two libraries. Later, a statement (1979) on collecting publications relating to Judaism in the two libraries was drafted. In 1981, Andover-Harvard and the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America issued a statement on collecting policies in women's studies.

These statements indicate that even in the past the libraries at Harvard have tried to cooperate in matters of collection policy. The collection in Andover-Harvard Theological Library has a very close relationship with portions of the Widener Library collection. The staff at Andover-Harvard work in cooperation with Widener's Collection Development Department and other Harvard libraries to avoid unnecessary duplication, but at the same time to keep its own special research collection areas unique and current. In this way, more materials are available to the University community without wasting scarce resources.

Andover-Harvard Theological Library is a member of the Boston Theological Institute (BTI), which was founded in 1968, and comprises nine area theological schools. Membership in the BTI makes available some denominational materials collected by these institutions that would not otherwise be accessible by the Divinity School community. Research collections at these schools vary.

How Books Are Selected

This statement deals only with the research collections of Andover-Harvard Theological Library. Materials needed for instructional purposes in the MDiv, MTS, ThM, and ThD programs are always ordered. However, textbooks, outlines, and popular and juvenile literature are rarely purchased unless required for courses. In general, the library collects in all western languages; where there are exceptions, they will be noted.

A committee consisting of the Librarian and other senior library staff share the responsibility for selecting books, serials, and other materials for the collection.

Collecting profiles have been established with a number of book vendors and publishers, who notify the library of new publications in areas of interest. A monthly printout of all materials acquired by the Library of Congress in our collecting areas is reviewed.

Another component of this activity is consultation with the faculty, both about individual items to be purchased and changing emphases within the collection.

Occasionally, scholarly review journals are consulted, but for the most part the library needs to obtain those materials long before reviews appear in print.

Collecting Areas by Library of Congress Classification

Except for the reference collection, which includes nonreligious works, research collections for nonreligious fields are maintained elsewhere in the University.

Philosophy and Psychology (B-BJ)

The research collections in these two fields are in Widener and other libraries in the University. Very few secondary works are collected except for books on '....and Religion' and religious studies in general. A basic reference collection is provided, as well as sets and sources of such important philosophers and psychologists as Kant, Feuerbach, Emerson, Marx, Freud, and those of earlier centuries, including ancient Greeks. Most basic philosophical and psychological journals are received, but back files, whenever possible, are kept in microform. The collecting is primarily in English; a few monographs and periodicals, however, are in German and French.

The library does collect in some depth in the areas of the philosophy of religion, and the psychology of religion and counseling, though coverage of these subjects can be found in greater depth elsewhere in the University Library.

Religions. Mythology. Rationalism (BL)

The major research collection is at Widener. Important supplementary collections can be found at Tozzer Library (on primitive religions) and at Harvard-Yenching Library (on Oriental religions).

In the recent past, the library has collected more materials on general, comparative, and phenomenological studies in religion, but otherwise in this area, the library has only a working collection related to its teaching program in world religions. Material is limited to English texts and secondary material and some selective titles in French and German.

Judaism (BM)

Andover-Harvard has a limited working collection of Judaica and Hebraica and assumes responsibility for acquisitions in these fields only to meet the reading, reference, and instructional needs of the Divinity School community. The library acquires selected Hebrew reference works, such as standard editions of the Bible, Mishnah, Talmud, and encyclopedias and dictionaries. This is also true for the periodical collection in this area. The major collection on Judaism is in Widener Library

Andover-Harvard does assume responsibility for all works in western languages on the Hebrew Bible, the biblical and intertestamental periods. This includes materials on the Essenes, the Dead Sea Scrolls, Ebla, and all related studies. In the field of non-Hebrew Semitic languages, Widener maintains the major research collection, though Andover-Harvard duplicates some works to supplement its collection in Biblical studies and is also responsible for collecting in depth, primarily in English, in the area of Jewish-Christian relations and related fields.

Islam. Bahaism. Theosophy (BP); and Buddhism (BQ).

The major research collections are at Widener and the Harvard-Yenching Library. Andover-Harvard maintains a working collection of current books needed in the teaching program in world religions and a strong historical collection in theosophy. Material is limited to English texts and secondary titles, with some selective material in French and German.

Christianity (BR)

Protestantism is collected at Andover-Harvard in depth in all of its aspects, while the major collections in medieval and non-Protestant church history are maintained at Widener. In the older sections of the collection, there is considerable duplication. The collection is especially strong in post-Reformation continental Protestantism with special emphasis on pietism, mysticism, and free thought. The collection represents all western European languages. The library also purchases some titles on Protestantism published in the Slavic countries. Materials from the Far East that are not selected by the Harvard-Yenching Library are also acquired.

The Bible (BS)

Andover-Harvard has the major responsibility in the University Library for the collection of books and serials in the biblical field. This includes biblical texts, biblical theology, biblical commentaries and criticism, hermeneutics, and archaeology. Houghton Library has pre-Reformation biblical texts and imprints. Widener has post-biblical Jewish materials. Collecting in western languages is as comprehensive and exhaustive as possible except for the Bible itself. Texts of the Bible are collected for research and historical purposes only. Thus, new editions of the Bible will be purchased in many languages, but in most cases not new printings or expensive editions and reprints. The collection is one of great strength.

Doctrinal Theology (BT)

Works in Protestant theology are collected at Andover-Harvard in depth while the major research collection in Catholic dogmatics, moral theology, and Catholic social action is at Widener. There is considerable duplication in the older collections and some duplication continues today, as certain items need to be available in both libraries. Except for some material in the very late medieval period, Andover-Harvard does not collect in the medieval period.

Homiletics and Practical Theology (BV)

This is not an area where Andover-Harvard has ever collected in depth, although in recent years the collection has been greatly improved; however, it is not a research-level collection.

Liturgy and ritual is split between Andover-Harvard and Widener. The significant Treat Collection of Catholic Liturgy makes Widener's holdings of pre-twentieth-century liturgy outstanding. It is an area in which Widener continues to collect. Serious students should also consult the collection in liturgy at EDS/Weston.

Andover-Harvard has a fairly good hymnology collection. This is a result of a gift from the American Antiquarian Society of many nineteenth-century hymnbooks and the fact that the Loeb Music Library at Harvard transferred its hymnal collection to Andover-Harvard. Therefore, the historical collection is better than adequate, and the library continues to collect additional hymnbooks. Church music in general will be found at Harvard's Loeb Music Library.

The area of religious education has never been emphasized; the collection represents only what is needed for instruction. Curriculum materials are not collected except those from the Unitarian Universalist denomination.

Andover-Harvard does not collect in depth primary source material on missions; the emphasis has always been on the theory and the theology of missions. Harvard has depended in this area on the collections of Yale Divinity School, Union Theological Seminary (New York), and Princeton Theological Seminary. The one outstanding missions collection at Harvard is the collection of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM). Most of the manuscripts of this body are at Houghton. Microform collections in Widener/Lamont also provide extensive primary resources in this area. The University Library is also very strong in nineteenth- and twentieth-century materials for areas that are now called developing nations, simply by the fact that its historical collections are almost always unrivaled.

Denominations and Sects (BX)

The emphasis at Andover-Harvard in this area is on the liberal traditions, e.g., Unitarian, Universalist, and Congregational. The collection is one of great depth. The library also collects in depth the predecessors of these modern denominations and the so-called nonconforming bodies: Mennonites, Quakers, Anabaptists, Moravians, Arminians.

The library also collects in some depth material on denominations whose materials are not available in New England, i.e., Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Reformed Church publications. Material for certain other denominations may be found at other BTI libraries.

The library also collects in some depth material on the ecumenical movement.

Manuscripts and Archives

The collecting policy of the Manuscripts and Archives Department encompasses five main areas:

  • Unitarian Universalist Institutional Records. Based upon the long-standing relationship between the Divinity School and the American Unitarian movement, the Manuscripts and Archives Department serves as the institutional archives for the Unitarian Universalist Association and the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee and their predecessor agencies.
  • Unitarian Universalist Congregational Records. This department collects the historical records of non-active Unitarian Universalist congregations, as well as the records of a small number of active UU congregations 
  • Personal Papers. This department collects the papers of Harvard Divinity School tenured faculty members and Unitarian Universalist ministers. The papers of other individuals who have made noteworthy contributions to the Divinity School, Unitarian Universalism, or to the field of religion in general are accepted on an individual basis.
  • Harvard Divinity School Records. The bulk of the official records of Harvard Divinity School may be found at the Harvard University Archives. This department collects the unofficial records of the School which includes newsletters, reports, and program brochures, as well as audiovisual materials such as posters, photographs, and video recordings.
  • Records of Other Religious Institutions. The records of other religious institutions are accepted on an individual basis. Some of the collections which we currently house are the records of the Society for Art, Religion, and Contemporary Culture, and the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education.

Rare Books

Andover-Harvard has a small but significant collection of rare books and tracts, including 22 incunabula. The oldest, a book on virtues by Guillelmus Paraldus, was published '... not after 1475.' The collection also includes early Hebrew, Latin, and Greek Bibles, as well as rare Bibles in many languages. There are first editions of Luther, Calvin, Melanthon, Zwingli, and other reformers, and a large collection of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Arminian tracts. There is an excellent collection of materials related to the eighteenth-century Salzburg Protestants. One will also find early editions of the New England Puritans and first editions of most of the works of important nineteenth-century Unitarians and Universalists, such as Channing, Parker, Ballou, and Emerson. Additions to the collection are made occasionally by purchases from designated funds or by the receipt of gifts.

Women's Studies in Religion

Andover-Harvard intensified its collecting in this field when the Divinity School initiated its Women's Studies in Religion Program in 1973. It works closely with the Schlesinger Library, which houses the University's major collection on the history of women in the United States. Andover-Harvard collects scholarly material on women in all western languages across the various fields of religion. Emphasis is on the role of women in Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, and the traditions of Africa, Asia, and the Americas. Special importance is placed on women in the practice of ministry, preaching, religious counseling, liturgy, etc. The library acquires general reference books and bibliographies on women and all titles required by courses in this area.

Electronic Resources

Increasingly, the library acquires electronic and other non-print resources to support instruction and research. Electronic resources include bibliographic materials and full text files in a variety of formats, including CD-ROMs and licensed networked resources (e.g., the ATLA Religion Database). The library also occasionally acquires other non-book materials, such as slides, videocassettes, and audiocassettes to support instruction. Attention is paid to the acquisition of those non-print resources that are appropriate to the subject areas in which the library collects at the comprehensive or research levels.

Preservation and Microforms

The library has been extremely conscious of the need and importance of preserving older library materials. For over thirty years it has had on the staff a book conservator and it maintains a preservation and conservation workshop within the library. The conservator oversees the physical condition of the collection, the commercial bindery procedures, the restoration of books and manuscripts, and the care of the rare book collection, the pre-1800 collection, and certain newer materials, such as reference works that will be used heavily.

Andover-Harvard has had many serials and monographs microfilmed on a current and regular basis through the American Theological Library Association. In addition, it has purchased many major periodicals and monographs, especially in English, that have been microfilmed commercially. Most microforms are fully cataloged and available through HOLLIS.


The last Collection Development Policy statement for Andover-Harvard Theological Library was prepared fifteen years ago, updating a statement prepared twenty-five years before that. In anticipation of a new Librarian of the Divinity School and the opening of a renovated library facility with revitalized library programs, it seemed appropriate to bring this Collection Development Policy statement up to date. It affirms that the basic areas of scholarship in which the library has specialized for decades are still essentially valid today.

Malcolm C. Hamilton
Interim Librarian
September 1, 1999

Collecting Levels Chart

Five collecting levels have been adapted from those established by the Collection Development Committee, Resources Section, Resources and Technical Services Division of the American Library Association, first published as 'Guidelines for Collection Development,' Chicago, 1979. This method continues today to prove valuable in describing the research depth of library collections.

1. Comprehensive Level

A collection in which a library endeavors, so far as is possible, to include all significant works of recorded knowledge (publications, manuscripts, other forms) in all applicable languages, for a necessarily defined and limited field. This level of collecting intensity is that which maintains a 'special collection.' The aim, if not the achievement, is exhaustiveness.

2. Research Level

A collection that includes the major published source materials to support dissertation and independent research, including materials containing research reporting, new findings, scientific experimental results, and other information useful to researchers. It also aims to include all important reference works and a wider selection of specialized monographs, as well as a very extensive collection of journals.

3. Study Level

A collection that is adequate to support undergraduate and most graduate course work; that is, adequate to maintain knowledge of a subject required for limited or generalized purposes, of less than research intensity. It includes a wide range of basic monographs, complete collections of the works of more important writers, selections of the works of secondary writers, a selection of representative journals, and the reference tools and fundamental bibliographical apparatus pertaining to the subject.

4. Basic Level

A highly selective collection that serves to introduce and define the subject and to indicate the varieties of information available elsewhere. It may include major dictionaries and encyclopedias, selected editions of important works, historical surveys, important bibliographies, and a few major periodicals in the field.

5. Minimal Level

A subject in which few selections are made beyond very basic works.

Tables arranged by Library of Congress classification are attached to supplement in greater detail the descriptive section of this statement.

LC Classification Collecting Level Notes
B-BJ Philosophy and Psychology 4 Except for the following: Research collections at Widener and other libraries
B56 Philosophy in relation to theology and religion 3  
BJ47 Ethics in relation to religion 3  
Christian Ethics 2  
BL Religions, mythology, rationalism 3 Research collections at Widener and other libraries
BM Judaism   Research collections at Widener
1-159 General 4  
160-178 Ancient period 2  
180-449 Medieval, modern 4  
480-485 Pre-Talmud, non-biblical literature 4  
487-488 Dead Sea Scrolls 2  
495-534 Midrash, Cabala, etc. 4  
535 Jews and Christianity 2  
536-585 Relations of Judaism to special subject fields 4  
590 Jewish works against Christianity 2  
590-601 Dogmatic Judaism 4  
605-630 Theology of the OT in Jewish teaching 3  
645-755 Dogmatic Judaism, Practical 4  
900-990 Samaritans 2  
BP Islam, Bahaism, Theosophy, etc. 4 Research collections at Widener
BQ Buddhism 4 Research collections at Widener and Harvard-Yenching.
BR Christianity    
1-67 General: Patristics 2  
75-100 Later writers 2-3 Catholics (3); Protestants (2)
110-114 Philosophy of Christianity 3  
115-225 Christianity in relation to special subjects: History of Christianity to 451 2  
227-275 Christianity in tde Middle Ages 4  
280-355 Reformation 2  
358-1609 Christianity by country 3-2 Catholic history (3) Protestant (2)
1610-1653 Liberalism, toleration, pietism 2  
1690-1719 Religious biography, general & juvenile 4  
1720-1725 Early Christian biography to ca. 600 2  
BS Bible    
1-312 Texts and versions 2  
313-399 Texts and versions, non-European languages 4  
410-537 Works about tde Bible 2  
538-619 Popular works about tde Bible, textbooks 3  
620-2970 Biblical commentaries and criticism 2  
BT Doctrinal Theology    
10-560 General: God, Christology 2  
580-693 Miracles, Mariology 4  
695-940 Man; soteriology; eschatology 2  
960-981 Saints, angels 4  
990-1040 Creeds, confessions, catechisms, etc. 2  
1095-1255 Apologetics 3  
1313-1480 Heresies and other movements, including Gnosticism 2  
BV Practical Theology    
1-10.2 General 3  
15-168 Services, church year, feast days 4  
170-290 Liturgy and ritual; prayers 3  
301-340 Hymnology 3 Strong historical collection
343-355 General hymnbooks 3 Strong historical collection
360-392 Denominational hymnbooks 4 Strong historical collection
393-413 Hymnbooks: Congregational, Friends, Lutheran, Mennonite 3 Strong historical collection
415-416 Methodist 4  
417 Moravian 3  
418-443 Miscellaneous 4  
445-453 Unitarian and Universalist 1  
455-525 Miscellaneous 4  
590-595 General ecclesiastical theology 3  
597-651 The Church 2  
652-657 Church management 4  
659-740 Ministry; Clergy 3  
759-761.A5 Church Law (early church) 2  
761.A6-779 Church Law (later); church finance 3 Protestant Church law (2)
800-825.2 Sacraments (Baptism and Eucharist) 3  
825.5-1650 Other sacraments; YMCA and YWCA; Religious education 4  
2000-3705 Missions 4 Except: Unitarian and Universalist (1); Congregational (2).
3750-3799 Evangelism, Revivals 4  
4000-4470 Pastoral theology 3  
4485-5069 Practical theology; the Christian life 4  
5070-5099 Mysticism 3  
BX Denominations and Sects    
1-9 Ecumenical movement 2  
100-750 Eastern churches, Oriental 4  
800-4795 Catholic Church 4 Except: Papacy and Reformation and New England (3)
4800-4946 General; biography; individual sects 2  
5003-6093 Anglican communion 4 Except for Church and Puritanism (2)
6101-6194 Adventists 3  
Arminians 2  
6198-7094 Baptists, Christian Science, etc. 4  
7101-7289 Congregational 2  
7301-7430 Miscellaneous 4  
7451-7493 Evangelical and Reformed 2  
7501-7597 Evangelical Church 3  
7601-7943 Friends, German Reformed Church 2  
7990 Holiness churches 4  
8001-8080 Lutherans 3  
8101-8143 Mennonites 2  
8201-8530 Methodism 4  
8551-8593 Moravians 2  
8601-8699 Mormons 4  
8701-8750 Swedenborgians 3  
8762-8809 Pentecostal churches 4  
8901-9225 Presbyterians 3  
9301-9375 Puritanism 2  
9401-9750 Reformed or Calvinistic churches 3 Except for Salvation Army (4) and Schwenckfeld Church (2)
8751-9798 Shakers and Millennialism 3  
9801-9869 Unitarianism 1  
9875-9882 United Brethren of Christ 4  
9884-9886 United Church of Christ 2  
9887-9890 Miscellaneous 4  
9901-9969 Universalism 1  
9975-9999 Miscellaneous 4  


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