About the Lancaster Theological Seminary Library
We are open to the general public. We are located in the Library Building, adjacent to the Lark Academic Building and across the lawn from the parking lot off College Ave. Visitor parking is available in the lot off College Ave. Visitor parking passes are available at the Circulation Desk for patrons conducting research and planning to stay longer than the allotted visitor time. 

Our hours change frequently depending on the seminary's schedule. Please check our calendar of hours and events when planning your visit.
Interactive Map
Explore our library with our interactive online map! The alphabetical list of points of interest will take you directly to that point on the map.

Click here to view the map in its own window.
Library Hours and Events
Koha Handout for Students
A valid photo ID, mailing address, email address, and phone number is required to open an account and check out materials. All materials must be properly checked out at the circulation desk or self-checkout station and returned to the circulation desk drop box or after-hours book drop when due.

All library accounts must be renewed each year. To renew your library account: Follow the instructions sent in the email notification and on the screen when you log into your library account. Go to your personal details, review the contact information, and click Submit request to notify us that your contact information is up-to-date and you'd like to renew your account.

Loan periods vary by borrower type:
Borrower Type Items Checked Out at Once Holds Allowed at Once Loan Period
Current Seminary Master's and Certificate Students unlimited 10 items 30 days
Current Seminary Doctoral Students unlimited 10 items 90 days
Current Continuing Education Students 20 items 10 items 30 days
Current Adjunct and CE Instructors unlimited 10 items 90 days
Seminary Staff and Faculty unlimited 20 items 180 days
LTS Trustees, Alumni/ae, and family members 10 items 5 items 30 days
Visiting Students and Faculty 10 items 5 items 30 days
Supporting Member ($20/year) 10 items 5 items 30 days
Local Clergy and Laity; General Public (complimentary) 5 items 5 items 30 days

Reference materials, periodicals, lectionary resources, special collections and archives do not circulate. Media items have a 2-week loan period for all borrower types. 
Course Reserve Materials
Course reserve items are available for a 3-hour loan period and a maximum of 3 reserve items may be checked out at one time. Items checked out within three hours of the library's closing may be used overnight and returned within one hour of opening the following day. Overdue reserve items accrue a fine of $1/hour.

Reserve materials are shelved across from the self-checkout station. All reserve materials must be checked out, even if only for photocopying. Return all reserve materials to the marked shelving area next to the course reserves.
Holds and Pickup
Students may place holds on up to 10 books and/or 3 media items at a time. Students must be logged in to the library's catalog to place items on hold. For items that are currently available, library staff will pull the items and hold them behind the circulation desk for pickup. Items that are not picked up within 7 days of being placed on hold will be returned to the shelf. Reserve items may not be put on hold.
Renewing Items
Patrons are responsible for renewing and returning items in a timely manner. Renewals may be made through the library's system by logging in to your account. Requests to renew materials by email or telephone are not accepted. 

There is a limit of 2 renewals per item. Once an item has been renewed twice, it must be brought back to the library to be checked in before checking out/renewing again. All circulating items are subject to recall after one week if requested by another patron and will be due within seven days of the recall. Items on hold cannot be renewed.
Overdue Materials and Delinquent Fine Notices
Patrons receive the following notices automatically via email: advance due, date due, 2 days overdue, 15 days overdue, and 29 days overdue.

The patron who checks out library material is responsible for its return or replacement, if damaged or lost. Items are due by the close of business on the date assigned. Overdue items accrue a fine of $0.25/day, to a maximum of $15 per item. Borrowing privileges are suspended for current Lancaster Seminary students when his/her account balance due reaches $5. All other borrowers must have a $0 balance before checking out items. Fine forgiveness is available for a single amount up to $15 once every 6 months. Requests for greater amounts are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Inquiries can be made with a librarian.

Any overdue item that has not been returned within 30 days will be declared lost. Lost items are charged at the replacement cost plus a $25 cataloging and processing fee. No refund can be made if the item is found and returned at a later date. Library materials are regarded as damaged upon their return when they are seen to have suffered beyond the ordinary wear and tear that responsible use brings. Under such circumstances a patron may be asked to supply a replacement copy or charged for a replacement at a rate of actual cost plus $25 fee.
Collection of Fines and Fees
Fines are to be paid at the time materials are returned or upon receipt of notice. Fines paid upon return of materials or receipt of notice and invoices for lost/damaged materials may be paid at the circulation desk or online in the library account. To pay at the circulation des, please have the correct amount or you may write a check to "Lancaster Theological Seminary." Online payments are completed using PayPal. A video tutorial for paying fines online is located on this page.

Graduating seniors must have accounts in good standing by the registrar's deadline in order to graduate.

Patrons with expired accounts holding a balance will receive three additional monthly notices. If the balance is a significant amount and remains unpaid after three notices, the case will be turned over to a collection agency.
Settle your library account using PayPal
Reference Assistance
The Seminary Librarian is usually available for reference inquiries during regular seminary business hours. Please feel free to drop by when she is available or book an appointment online.

Please visit our Ask the Librarian page to submit a question, suggestion, or comment. Under most circumstances these will be answered within 24 hours or one business day.
Access to eResources
Remote access to databases, eJournals, eBooks, and other eResources the library owns or subscribes to is available to current students, faculty, and staff. Alumnia/ae with active library accounts may have remote access select eResources.

Log in to your library account to authenticate access to our eResources. Wait for the purple "Authenticating into OpenAthens..." banner to disappear before proceeding with a Discovery search or following a link to an eResource.

Guest access to all eResources is available from the public computers in the library and any device connected to the Seminary's wi-fi network.

If you encounter any difficulty accessing an eResource, please email the library staff or call the Circulation Desk at 717-290-8707.
Photocopying, Printing, and Scanning
A multifunctional device is available in the library for photocopying, printing, and scanning. Patrons must first open a deposit account before using the device to copy and/or print. Open your deposit account and add money to it at the circulation desk. The circulation desk accepts cash and check payments. Credit card payments are accepted through the library system when arranged in advance with library staff.

Scanning is available free of charge and does not require a deposit account. Scans may be sent via email or saved to a USB flash drive.

The costs per page for copying and printing are:
Black & White 8.5 x 11 Single sided 4 cents
Double sided 7 cents
8.5 x 14 Single sided 6 cents
Double sided 11 cents
11 x 17 Single sided 8 cents
Double sided 14 cents
Color 8.5 x 11 Single sided 10 cents
Double sided 19 cents
8.5 x 14 Single sided 15 cents
Double sided 28 cents
11 x 17 Single sided 20 cents
Double sided 38 cents
Special Collections and Archives
Materials from special collections and archives may be requested by appointment as library hours permit.

Use of these materials is restricted to a designated reading area. Only pencils, paper, and portable electronic devices essential to the immediate research are permitted in conjunction with use of materials. Pens, indelible pencils, and beverages are prohibited. 

Because many of these materials are fragile, any photocopying must be approved and conducted by a library staff member at her/his discretion. Use of digital cameras may be allowed with the consent of a library staff member.
Interlibrary Loan
Materials not in our collection may be secured from other libraries through interlibrary loan. Interlibrary Loan privileges are extended to current students, faculty, staff, trustees, and alumni/ae who are able to pick up their ILL requests in person. Charges from the lending library will be passed on to the patron.

The interlibrary loan request form is available online. A library account login in required.

Due dates, renewal periods and fines are determined by the lending library. We ask for your cooperation in timely return of items. Our ability to obtain interlibary loan materials is compromised when we send things back late. We will impose a fine of $2/day for materials returned after our stipulated return date.

Before making a request: The Library has reciprocal borrowing privileges with Franklin & Marshall College and all member schools of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Theological Library Association. Try a WorldCat Search to see if one of these libraries has what you are looking for. 

Submitting your request: Your ILL request is made and tracked through your library account. Please provide as much information about the item you are looking for as possible. When your request is first made, the status will say "New request." When we have forwarded that request to ILL partner libraries that have the item in their collections, the status will be updated to say "Requested."

Receiving your ILL item: Copy requests are delivered by email and may be received within a few days of making a request. It could take a week or more to receive a book from a lending library. Once we have received the requested material, you will receive an email that it is ready for pickup at the Circulation Desk. When you check out the item, the due date is set based on the lending library.

Renewing your ILL item: Generally, ILL items are non-renewable. If you need the item past its due date, notify us at least a week before the item is due so that we may request a renewal from the lending library.
Partnerships and Reciprocal Borrowing Arrangements
We are consortial partners with the Evangelical and Reformed Historical Society, and share a catalog. The ERHS is located in the Library Building, but maintains its own staff and hours of operations. ERHS materials do not circulate. Appointments are encouraged.

Lancaster Theological Seminary students may borrow materials directly from Franklin & Marshall College. Students open a library account at the F&M Library with their student ID and are subject to the policies of the F&M Library. For more information, see https://library.fandm.edu.

Lancaster Theological Seminary students currently enrolled in classes may also borrow materials directly from any member library of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Theological Library Association. Students who anticipate borrowing materials from one of these libraries needs to obtain a signed enrollment verification form from a library staff member before visiting the other library. For a list of libraries, see https://septla.org/member-libraries.

The Library also participates in the nation-wide Atla Reciprocal Borrowing Program. For a list of participating libraries, see https://www.atla.com/learning-engagement/reciprocal-borrowing/.
For more information:
    Introducing Schaff Library Guides
    Building Use Policies
    Beverages must be in a lidded container. Food is not permitted on the lower level of the library. Small snacks are permitted on the main floor. Meals and messy foods may only be consumed in the snack area. Everyone is asked to clean up after themselves.

    The library is a smoke- and tobacco-free environment. Smoking, use of smokeless tobacco products, e-cigarettes and the use of unregulated nicotine products is strictly prohibited.

    The library is a drug-free environment. Manufacturing, purchasing, possessing, using, or distributing any federally illegal drug, controlled substance (without a prescription), or drug paraphernalia is strictly prohibited. This includes all forms of medical cannabis.

    We reserve the right to inspect library materials and personal items upon arrival and departure.

    Animals are prohibited unless registered for service or therapy.

    Children under 16 must be accompanied by a responsible caregiver.

    Please do not re-shelve items. Library staff will remove all materials from tables and carrels that are not checked out. Items no longer in use can be left on tables, in designated shelving areas, or returned to the circulation desk drop box.

    Personal items cannot be held at the circulation desk for students during classes.

    The library is not responsible for personal items left in the library. A lost and found box is located near the circulation desk.
    Computers with word processing software and other tools are available on the library’s main floor. 

    Bring your own USB flash memory drive or use Google Drive to save your work. Anything saved to the computer’s hard drive is deleted.

    Use of the library’s computers must comply with the Seminary’s Electronic Communications Policy. 
    Cell Phones and Personal Electronic Devices
    Cell phones must be turned off or set for silent operation while you are in the library.  If you must receive or make a call, please move to the designated conversation area, student snack area, or outside before doing so.

    Personal electronic devices, including laptops, tablets, and portable music players, must remain silent or be used with headphones. Patrons may be asked to discontinue use of these devices if they disturb other library users.
    Maker Space
    • The Library's Maker Space is open for use by students, faculty, and staff. Visitors who would like to use this space and its equipment must gain permission from library staff.
    • Use the Maker Space at your own risk.
    • The Library is not responsible for personal property (including personal supplies and equipment) left unattended in the Maker Space.
    • Please respect the space and other's use of the space.
    • Clean up the equipment and space after you are finished using it.
    • Unused supplies may be left in the Maker Space for use by the community. Please label and store them appropriately.
    • Maker Space equipment must remain in the Maker Space.
    • No food is allowed in the Maker Space. Lidded drinks are permitted.
    • Please respect the Intellectual Property of others as you work collaboratively in the space.
    Privacy Policy
    It is the policy of the Lancaster Theological Seminary Library that the privacy of all users will be respected in compliance with federal and state laws as well as professional standards.

    The Lancaster Theological Seminary Library will not reveal personally identifiable information of individual users or reveal what information sources or services they consult under most circumstances. Reasons for disclosure include being required by search warrant or subpoena or if there is a substantiated reason to believe that violations of law or of Seminary policies have taken place; or when failure to act might result in significant bodily harm or significant property loss. This policy applies to all resources regardless of their format or means of delivery as well as to all services offered by the Library.

    All library records and other information relating to an individual's use of the library and its resources are considered confidential. These records include, but are not limited to, circulation records of library materials, address and other registration information, reference or informational questions asked, interlibrary loan transactions, and computer database searches. This information, however, may be consulted and used by library staff in the course of carrying out library business.

    The Lancaster Theological Seminary Library collects the following personal information from individuals who wish to open library accounts: name, mailing address, telephone number, email address, graduating class (applicable to alumni/ae), and home institution (applicable to visiting students/faculty). We do not share or distribute this information. Patrons have the right to manage their privacy settings on their library accounts and set how long their records are kept. The options are:
    • Forever: keep my reading history without limit. This is the option for users who want to keep track of what they are reading.
    • Default: keep my reading history according to local laws. This is the default option : the library will keep your reading history for the duration permitted by local laws. N.B. The Library's default is to anonymize reading history immediately when items are checked-in.
    • Never: Delete my reading history immediately. This will delete all record of the item that was checked-out upon check-in.
    Privacy settings are found in the patron's account details under the tab, "Your Privacy."
    Social Media Policy
    This policy dictates the protocols for appropriate and effective use of social media by the Lancaster Theological Seminary Library. Within this policy, social media refers to any social networking sites or software that the library uses to publicly share library related information. Such sites include Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

    We use social media to share useful, educational, and engaging content while also creating opportunities for communication and connections with library users. Across all our social media accounts, we strive to increase awareness of our library and the services, events, spaces, and resources we offer. We also seek to use tools and media effectively to connect with students, faculty, staff, alumni/ae, church leaders, and the community at large. All are encouraged to “socialize” by using these resources to comment, suggest, question, share, and discover the services offered by the library.

    All library staff members should feel free to publish and/or comment using our social media accounts in accordance with this policy. Student library staff may have limited access to the library’s social media accounts as supervised by the Seminary Librarian. Library staff members will respond to all comments and messages sent via social media platforms, publicly within the platform when possible and privately as appropriate. The Library will respond in a friendly and professional manner, treating all exchanges as extensions of Circulation/Reference Desk interactions.

    User Comments/Posts
    Comments and other user-generated messages visible to the public will be subject to review for appropriateness by library staff members. Comments should be relevant to the specific post they are attached to. Library staff members reserve the right to moderate and/or remove any comment or disable all comments if necessary. Comments that will not be posted include:
    • Items or comments that are obscene, racist, derogatory, or similarly objectionable in their content
    • Personal attacks, insults, or threatening language
    • Commercial promotions or spam
    User Privacy
    User privacy is to be respected by library staff members in consideration of the ALA Code of Ethics. Users who connect via social networking sites by "liking," “following," creating an alert to new content, leaving a comment, or otherwise initiating communication will be contacted by the Library through that site. Users who subscribe to external social networking sites (such as Facebook) do so at their own risk and responsibility for sharing personally identifying information through those sites.
    Find us on Facebook
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    Please read carefully. Our policy has changed.

    Book Donation Guidelines
    Our goal is to collect titles that may be of use to our current students. We welcome both new and used books in quantities of fewer than ten reasonably-sized boxes. Used books should be in fair to good condition: no major binding breaks, extreme water damage, or loose hinges. We cannot guarantee the final disposition of books donated to the library.

    Donation drop-offs must be scheduled in advance. Call 717-290-8707 option 5 to schedule.

    We accept titles in the following areas published after 1990:
    • Biblical studies: Hebrew Bible and New Testament commentaries, background monographs, lexical material
    • Theological material: Classics and new theological texts
    • Ethics: especially Christian ethics
    • History of religion: comparative studies, specialized monographs
    • History of Christianity: especially Reformation and Counter-reformation
    • Christian denominational resources and publications: especially denominational histories, doctrinal works, and polity
    • Social history and concerns: including marriage, families, communities, class, race, and public welfare
    • Music and Fine Arts: especially works related to spirituality and religion
    • Missiology, inter-cultural studies, history of spirituality
    We do not accept:
    • Popular religious or devotional material
    • Items outside of the subject areas listed above
    • College textbooks, encyclopedias, or magazines
    • Decorative religious items
    From our Collection Development Policy:
    Gifts – The Library accepts donations of books, periodicals, and other materials appropriate to the collection. The same selection criteria apply to gifts as to items added through purchase. Material gifts to the library are governed by the following stipulations:
    • All gifts are final.
    • The Library reserves the right to dispose of gifts to its best advantage. Such disposition may include: adding to the collection; sale, exchange, or donation to other students, libraries, or vendors; or contribution to a mission agency.
    • The Library cannot appraise gift material for tax purposes.
    • The Library will not accept restrictions on usage of the donated material that are contrary to general library policy.

    If you have items that you wish to donate to the Library's collection or the ongoing book sale, or if you have questions, please contact us directly.

    Those interested in making a cash gift to the library are encouraged to contact the Advancement Office and ask for your gift to be designated for use in the Lancaster Theological Seminary Library.
    Preparing Your Donation
    • On Site: used books we think our students and local pastors would enjoy are available - $1 hardcovers, $0.50 paperbacks
    • Online: coming soon
    • By Appointment: we are not currently making appointments for bulk book buyers
    General Inquiries
    • Email us
    • Call 717-290-8707
    • Write to:
      Lancaster Theological Seminary Library
      555 West James St.
      Lancaster, PA 17603


    Lancaster Theological Seminary educates and nurtures leaders to join in God’s redemptive and liberating work so that all creation may flourish. The Library supports the mission of Lancaster Theological Seminary by actively engaging in and supporting the curation, creation, and exploration of religious and theological information.

    The Lancaster Theological Seminary Library envisions its role in these three divisions as follows:
    • Information Curation - We develop and maintain specialized collections of print and electronic resources tailored for Lancaster Seminary, and are leaders in the discovery and access of these resources.
    • Information Creation - We provide comfortable spaces, appropriate tools, effective strategies, and support for study, collaboration, creativity, and participation in the scholarly community.
    • Information Exploration - We support the curricula of Lancaster Seminary, partner with the faculty and staff, and positively engage our patrons in their quest for religious and theological knowledge.

    The Seminary and the Library

    Lancaster Theological Seminary has its roots in the Evangelical and German Reformed churches. It is one of six seminaries of the United Church of Christ. Lancaster Theological Seminary is considered an ecumenical ministry of the UCC and welcomes students from a variety of faith traditions.

    From the beginnings of the library collection, the emphasis has been on the acquisition of current and retrospective primary and secondary resources. In 1825-1826 Rev. James Ross Reily was appointed as agent on behalf of the newly opened Seminary, traveling to Europe seeking funds for the Seminary and books for the library. The 397 books purchased and donated were published from the mid-18th through the early 19th centuries primarily in the fields of theology, history, and Bible by the major German writers in those fields and with an emphasis on the Reformed tradition. The first professor of the Seminary, Rev. Lewis Mayer, solicited works in English through the pages of the denominational newspaper. Books added to the collection throughout the remainder of the 19th century came primarily through donations and included works from the 16th through the 19th centuries representing a diversity of theological perspectives. Strengths of the collection included church history, theology (particularly 17th and 18th century Reformed theology), biblical studies, liturgy, and practical theology (particularly 18th and 19th century homiletics and devotional works).

    During the 20th century the collection grew through regular purchases as well as donations. A major purchase in 1968 was the library of Rev. Dr. Raymond Albright with strengths in church history, 18th and 19th century Pennsylvania German imprints, and 16th century Reformation pamphlets. With these additions the collection grew in both depth and breadth providing rich primary resources and confessional diversity. During the latter half of the 20th and beginning of the 21st centuries, foundational and historic texts from the world’s religions have been added, as well as texts in original languages and English translations of the early Church Fathers and Mothers, major Reformation figures, and major figures in theology, church history, biblical studies, and practical theology.

    As of June 30, 2021 the collection numbers 106,066 items including 79,025 books, 18,868 journals, 1,388 media, and 6,134 microforms. The collection is housed on two levels of the Library Building, originally built in 1967-68 and renovated in 1997. The library collection is housed on the main level and lower level. Library and IT staff offices are also on the main level. The upper level of the building contains the Advancement offices, the Business offices, the Elizabethtown College Continuing Education offices, one large classroom, and the Evangelical and Reformed Historical Society.

    Consortial and Reciprocal Borrowing Agreements

    The Lancaster Theological Seminary Library shares a catalog with the Evangelical and Reformed Historical Society. Consideration is given to their holdings and commitments when making collection development decisions so as to create complementary collections and reduce duplication.

    As of July 2021, Lancaster Theological Seminary began a formal combination with Moravian Theological Seminary and Moravian University located in Bethlehem, PA. At this stage of the combination process, Lancaster Theological Seminary Library will continue to maintain its own collection development policy. The availability of material from Reeves Library at Moravian University does not preclude the necessity of building and maintaining a collection at Lancaster Theological Seminary that supports the Seminary’s curricula. 

    Lancaster Theological Seminary is a member of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Theological Library Association (SEPTLA), which offers free and open access to current students and faculty of member institutions. As part of our commitment to this interfaith library association, the Library maintains research-level commitments to subject areas related to the German Reformed heritage and United Church of Christ affiliation of Lancaster Seminary. Our ongoing relationship with SEPTLA member libraries provides for the research needs of our students and faculty beyond our narrowly focused research commitments.

    Lancaster Theological Seminary is a member of the Atla Reciprocal Borrowing Program, a direct lending arrangement between North American libraries in the association formerly known as the American Theological Library Association. Current students may register with participating institutions to borrow materials directly from that library. This arrangement provides greater access to library resources for our students enrolled in hybrid programs and living at a distance.

    We also maintain a reciprocal borrowing agreement with Franklin and Marshall College. The availability of material in the Franklin and Marshall College Libraries does not preclude the necessity of building and maintaining a strong collection that supports the Seminary's curricula. Our ongoing relationship with Franklin and Marshall College provides our students and faculty with access to a greater wealth of resources.

    Responsibility for Selection

    The Seminary Librarian is responsible for the selection of all library materials. Teaching faculty are expected to recommend materials for purchase that are of good quality, serve to support their courses, and develop the entire field of their discipline. When new courses are developed or particularly when new degree programs are launched, it is very important that faculty work closely with the Seminary Librarian to build the collection in these areas. Students, staff, and administrative officers may also submit recommendations for purchase. The Seminary Librarian monitors the growth and balance of the collection overall, assesses the suitability of recommendations in light of collection policy guidelines and cooperative arrangements, and has the final responsibility for the development of the entire collection.

    Intellectual Freedom

    Within the scope of its mission, the Lancaster Theological Seminary Library is committed to representing a range of opinions and approaches in its collections. No item will be passed over for purchase or removed from the collection on the sole basis of the unpopularity of its viewpoint. Questions concerning the propriety of specific items will be referred to the Seminary Librarian who may, in turn, seek the advice of the Dean of the Seminary and/or the Diversity and Educational Life Committee.
    General Guidelines by Format

    Printed Books

    The majority of titles selected for addition to the collection are printed books. Where a choice exists, paperback books are preferred to hardcover as a cost-saving measure.


    When possible, the library purchases subscription or perpetual access to appropriate eBook collections as a cost-saving measure. Individual eBook titles may be licensed to support the curriculum, particularly titles placed on Course Reserve. Licenses for individual titles may not exceed 150% of the list price of a print edition. eBook titles are added to a Demand-Driven Acquisitions (DDA) list whenever possible. Preferred license types are concurrent user or 1-user, depending on availability and pricing. Preference is also given to the least restrictive licensing terms and Digital Rights Management (DRM) policies, with an awareness of limitations of use by community, consortia, and alumni/ae users.

    Printed and Electronic Periodicals

    The library maintains subscriptions to select titles in theological studies and related disciplines. Digital access is the preferred format for periodicals. Print subscriptions are maintained for magazine-style periodicals, more conducive to browsing and for which there is no digital access, or the cost of digital access is prohibitive.


    eResources include a variety of journal indexes (Atla Religion Database), full-text databases (Religion & Philosophy Collection), and collections of full-text works (JSTOR). When possible, access is arranged for alumni/ae.


    The library acquires one bound copy of theses written for degree programs at Lancaster Theological Seminary to place in Special Collections. We also collect and provide access to an electronic copy through our digital archive, with the author’s consent. In cases when the author does not consent, a second bound copy is added to the circulating collection.


    The library maintains some titles in microform format not otherwise available in print or digital form. Only in specific instances relating to Mercersburg Theology or the German Reformed heritage may the library purchase titles in microform for preservation purchases.

    Audiovisual Materials

    Within budgetary considerations, the library purchases video programs, spoken word programs, and recorded music when recommended by faculty and students.

    Standing Orders

    The library maintains standing orders for monographic series that are basic to our collecting interests. These are determined and evaluated in conversation with the faculty on a regular basis.


    The library primarily collects works in English. In general, non-English works may be purchased upon recommendation but are not regularly included in the approval plan.


    The Library accepts donations of books, periodicals, and other materials appropriate to the collection. The same selection criteria apply to gifts as to items added through purchase. Material gifts to the library are governed by the following stipulations:
    • All gifts are final.
    • The Library reserves the right to dispose of gifts to its best advantage. Such disposition may include: adding to the collection; sale, exchange, or donation to other students, libraries, or vendors; or contribution to a mission agency.
    • The Library cannot appraise gift material for tax purposes.
    • The Library will not accept restrictions on usage of the donated material that are contrary to general library policy.
    The Library also accepts cash donations to be used for the purchase of library material. Donors of monetary gifts may designate the use of those funds for specific purchases in consultation with the Seminary Librarian.
    Selection Guidelines

    Conspectus Definition

    The Research Libraries Group developed a system of collecting levels, known as the RLG Conspectus, intended primarily for the uniform evaluation of collections in research libraries. The use of these collecting levels evolved from a tool for evaluation into a meaningful set of descriptors employed in library collection policy statements. These levels are used in Lancaster Theological Seminary Library policy statements to define the extent of the Library’s collections. The general definitions of these collecting levels are:
    1. Out-of-Scope: The library does not collect in this area.
    2. Minimal Level: A subject area in which few selections are made beyond very basic works.
    3. Basic Information Level: A collection of up-to-date general materials that serve to introduce and define a subject and to indicate the varieties of information available elsewhere. It may include dictionaries, encyclopedias, selected editions of important works, historical surveys, bibliographies, handbooks, and a few major periodicals, in the minimum number that will serve the purpose. A basic information collection is not sufficiently intensive to support any courses of independent study in the subject area involved.
    4. Instructional Support Level: A collection that is adequate to support undergraduate and most graduate instruction, or sustained independent study; 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 works of more important writers, selections from the works of secondary writers, a selection of representative journals, and reference tools and fundamental bibliographical apparatus pertaining to the subject.
    5. Research Level: A collection that includes the major published source materials required for dissertations and independent research, including materials containing research reporting, new findings, scientific experimental results, and other information useful to researchers. It is intended to include all important reference works and a wide selection of specialized monographs, as well as a very extensive collection of journals and major indexing and abstracting services in the field. Older material is retained for historical research.
    6. Comprehensive Level: A collection which, so far as is reasonably possible, includes all significant works of recorded knowledge (publications, manuscripts, and other forms), in all applicable languages, for a necessarily defined and limited field. This level of collecting intensity is one that maintains a “special collection.” The aim, if not achievement, is exhaustiveness. Older material is retained for historical research.

    General Commitment to Instructional Support

    The Library can be counted on to provide resources that align with this purpose in all areas of the curriculum in support of student learning, faculty teaching/research, and the continuing education of other constituents. They represent what usually can be considered to be the collecting profile of a good seminary library.

    Specific Research Level Commitments

    • Reformation and works in the Reformed Church tradition
    • Mercersburg theology, including primary source documents
    • Heidelberg Catechism
    • History of the Reformed Church in the United States, Evangelical and Reformed Church, and United Church of Christ
    LC Classification Description Collecting Level Collecting Emphasis
    A General Works 1 (minimal)  
    B Philosophy 2 (basic) Kierkegaard
    BC Logic 0 (out of scope)  
    BD Speculative Philosophy 0 (out of scope)  
    BF Psychology 2 (basic) Applied psychology; psychology of religion
    BH Aesthetics 0 (out of scope)  
    BJ Ethics 3 (instructional) Religious ethics; ministerial ethics
    BL 1-659 General Religion 3 (instructional)  
    BL 660-2790 Specific Religious Traditions 3 (instructional)  
    BM Judaism 2 (basic)  
    BP Islam 2 (basic)  
    BQ Buddhism 2 (basic)  
    BR Christianity 3 (instructional) Early church; medieval church; world Christianity
    BR 280-439 Reformation and Counter-Reformation, 1517-1648 4 (research)  
    BS The Bible 3 (instructional)  
    BT Doctrinal Theology 3 (instructional)  
    BV Practical Theology 3 (instructional)  
    BX Christian Denominations 3 (instructional)  
    BX 7451-7493 Evangelical and Reformed Church 4 (research)  
    BX 9428 Heidelberg Catechism 4 (research)  
    BX 9551-9593 German Reformed Church/Reformed Church in the U.S. 4 (research)  
    BX 9884-9886 United Church of Christ 4 (research)  
    C History of Civilization 0 (out of scope)  
    D World History 1 (minimal) Religious
    E U.S. History 1 (minimal) Religious
    F U.S. Local History 1 (minimal) Pennsylvania religious
    G Geography, Anthropology, Recreation 0 (out of scope)  
    H-HG Social Sciences, Economics, Finance 1 (minimal) Leadership
    HM Sociology 1 (minimal)  
    HN Social History and Conditions 3 (instructional)  
    HQ Family, Marriage, Women 3 (instructional)  
    HS Societies: secret, benevolent, etc. 1 (minimal)  
    HT Communities, Class, Race 3 (instructional)  
    HV Social and Public Welfare 3 (instructional)  
    J Political Science 0 (out of scope)  
    K Law 0 (out of scope)  
    L Education 1 (minimal)  
    M Music 2 (basic) Sacred and church music
    N Fine Arts 3 (instructional) Religious art and architecture
    P-PL Language and Linguistics 1 (minimal) Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Aramaic, German
    PN-PZ Literature 1 (minimal)  
    Q Science 0 (out of scope)  
    R Medicine 1 (minimal) Medical ethics, parish nursing
    S Agriculture 0 (out of scope)  
    T Technology 0 (out of scope)  
    U Military Science 0 (out of scope)  
    V Naval Science 0 (out of scope)  
    Z Bibliography and Library Science 1 (minimal)  
    Special Collections
    The Lancaster Theological Seminary Library maintains several collections that are designated special. Special status is conferred by virtue of: (1) the relationship of the collection to the German Reformed heritage and tradition; (2) having a unique focus that complements the curriculum of the institution; (3) existing in a special format; or sometimes (4) simply the age or rarity of the material.

    At present the library has the following named special collections:
    • Lancastriana Collection – works related to Lancaster Theological Seminary and/or its history; one or more copies are available in either the circulating or non-circulating collection
    • Legacy Collection - volumes belonging to the original seminary library in its first decade (by 1835)
    • Philip Schaff Tercentenary Collection - acquired in 1863; volumes given to the library by Philip Schaff in celebration of the three hundredth anniversary of the Heidelberg Catechism
    • Raymond W. Albright Collection – acquired in 1968; includes 18th and 19th century Pennsylvania German imprints, 16th century Reformation pamphlets, and significant works in church history (some rare books, some circulating volumes)
    • Ronald R. Lausch Episcopal Studies Collection – acquired in 2012; contains mostly circulating volumes (not rare books) relating to Episcopal and Anglican studies
    Most, but not all, items belonging to special collections are housed in the Rare Book Room, a secure space on the main floor of the library. All titles are in the public access catalog, their special nature and location indicated by notes in the bibliographic and/or item records. 
    Seminary Archives
    Complementing the Library’s general and special collections are the Lancaster Theological Seminary Archives. The goal of the Seminary Archives is to collect, manage, preserve, and make accessible the documents and artifacts of Lancaster Theological Seminary and its senior administrators, faculty, trustees, committees, and student groups. These archives retain unpublished personal papers, correspondence, and manuscripts, along with official records, photographs, and artifacts.

    Items are actively sought for the Seminary Archives from retired and current faculty and staff, alumni/ae, and others. Guided by the Records Management Manual, non-current records from the various offices of the Seminary are transferred on a scheduled basis to the Seminary Archives.

    The Lancaster Theological Seminary Library maintains a Digital Archive on behalf of Lancaster Theological Seminary in partnership with the Mercersburg Society and the Evangelical and Reformed Historical Society. Archival items are digitized and added to the Digital Archive by request, based on available resources.
    Deselection Guidelines


    Duplicate copies – Withdraw unless requested by an instructor for class purposes or in specific cases where the provenance of an item is unique or valuable.

    Outdated/superseded material – Withdraw unless in an area collected for research and is not available electronically.

    Material in poor physical condition – Withdraw if available from a reciprocal borrowing partner; replace if collected for instructional support or research; keep and conserve if it is part of special collections and collected for research.

    Materials that are freely available digitally – Withdraw unless collected for research.

    Out of scope – Withdraw


    Print and bound volumes – Withdraw when electronic subscription or purchase guarantees perpetual access or when archival quality open access is available; keep and conserve in areas collected for research.

    Electronic subscriptions – Discontinue individual subscriptions when duplicated by full-text database subscriptions without embargo or when usage of content subject to embargo is consistently low or absent.

    Responsibility for Withdrawal

    The responsibility for these decisions will rest with the Seminary Librarian with the additional advice and consultation of subject specialists on the faculty. Titles that are part of our German Reformed heritage are important for primary, high level research and should not be withdrawn.
    The care and preservation of the library’s collection of print and non-print media is an ongoing task. The library uses the following measures to ensure that the material once selected for inclusion in this primary educational resource will remain available for consultation by future students, faculty, and researchers.

    Basic repair – Basic repair such as re-hinging, tipping in loose pages, spine reattachment, and making boxes as well as placing small booklets within Gaylord covers.

    Re-binding – Some items, particularly heavily used single copies, will be sent for rebinding at appropriate times.

    Conservation – The services of a professional book conservator will be hired to restore individual volumes or sets of high importance and utility when preserving the attributes of the original piece is also desirable.

    Reformatting – Preservation photocopying and the use of acid-free folders are other measures in addition to the above, which are available options on a case-by-case basis. Filming or digitization projects may be undertaken for preservation purposes and/or our most unique and vulnerable materials.

    Environment – The library attempts as much as possible to protect its collections from the ill effects of temperature and humidity fluctuations.
    Implementation and Revision
    This policy was implemented in October 2015 and most recently revised in March 2022.

    This policy shall be reviewed and revised whenever there is a significant change in the Seminary’s curricula or it is deemed necessary, at least once every two years.

    This policy is due to be reviewed in or before March 2024.
    Our Collection Development Policy
    For more information: