Address & Contact Information
Yale University Divinity School Library
409 Prospect Street
New Haven, CT 06511
Yale Divinity Library traces its origins to the construction of the Sterling Divinity Quadrangle in 1932. At that time, three collections were moved from the old Divinity Quadrangle to the School's new location at 409 Prospect Street: the Trowbridge Reference Library, the Sneath Library of Religious Education, and the Day Missions Library.
These three collections were each intended for a special purpose; the Divinity School's basic library services were provided by the Sterling Memorial Library. Nevertheless, each of these collections reflect a tradition of library service that continues today.
The Trowbridge Reference Library was established in 1881 as a non-circulating reference collection, as a memorial to Henry Stuart Trowbridge. Before its move to the Sterling Divinity Quadrangle, the collection was always quite small. At the time of the move it numbered 8,518 volumes. This collection formed the basis on which the Divinity Library's core collection was built, including:
- A comprehensive reference collection for the study of religion
- The core texts of theology, both in the original languages and in translation
- An extensive collection of secondary literature
The strengths of the Library's core collection reflect the historic strengths of the Divinity School faculty. It has particular strengths in Biblical studies, theology (both historical and constructive), and the history of Christianity.
The Sneath Memorial Library of Religious Education was established in 1919 as a memorial for Richard Sheldon Sneath. In 1932 the collection included 4,428 volumes. From this collection grew Yale Divinity Library's collections supporting the practice of ministry. While the Divinity Library has not built a comprehensive research collection for the practice of ministry, the collection is still more than adequate for the purposes of the Divinity School. The incorporation of the Ministry Resource Center into the Divinity Library has increased our coverage of current resources for the practice of ministry.
The Day Missions Library was established in 1891 by George Edward Day, a professor of Hebrew language and literature, and his wife, Olivia Hotchkiss Day. In 1932 the collection included 21,484 volumes -- some two thirds of the Divinity Library's original collection. This collection has continued to grow over the years, with support from the Day endowment and, since 1981, with income from a fund established by Kenneth Scott Latourette, a professor of missions.
The Day Missions Collection today makes up approximately one third of the Divinity Library's 500,000 volumes, and constitutes the bulk of its manuscript and archival collection. Its scope has enlarged from a fairly narrow focus on training missionaries to become one of the preeminent collections documenting the thought, history, and practice of world Christianity. The Divinity Library's core collection documenting missions history and world Christianity is housed in the Day Missions Reading Room.
While the Divinity Library began as three separate collections not especially suited to the needs of the Divinity School, over the years it has become one of the most important theological libraries in the world. Since 1953 the Divinity Library has reported to the Yale University Librarian, rather than to the Dean of the Divinity School (an arrangement that is unique among university-related divinity libraries). It is now responsible for building Yale's research collections in most areas related to the study of Christianity. Its collections now total:
- more than 500,000 volumes of monographs, serials, and pamphlets
- more than 260,000 pieces of microforms
- more than 2,700 videotapes
- nearly 4,000 linear feet of manuscript and archival materials
In addition, the Divinity Library has significant electronic collections, and growing collections of other non-print resources.
In spring 2003 a major renovation of the Sterling Divinity Quadrangle was completed. Prior to that renovation the entire Divinity Library collection was housed on-site. The new Divinity Library has approximately the same number of square feet as the old library, but has more space for patrons and relatively less for books and other research materials. Approximately half of our print volumes are shelved off-site permanently, as are most of our 4,000 linear feet of manuscript and archival collections. Materials shelved off-site are still part of our collections, and can be retrieved for use in the Divinity Library. Materials receiving regular use will be moved back permanently. We constantly assess what material is on-site to make certain that the most important, and most heavily used, material is the most accessible.
Floorplans for each floor of the Divinity Library are available at Floorplans.
- The Divinity Library houses a "core" collection supporting Divinity School teaching and research. Most of the circulating collection on-site is classified according to the Library of Congress classification system.
- The "core" collection documenting world Christianity is housed in the Day Missions Reading Room. The older material is classified in the Union classification system and is shelved on the lower level. More recent material is classified according to Library of Congress and is in the upper level.
- On-site manuscript and archival material is housed in the new Special Collections workroom. The remainder is at the Library Shelving Facility (LSF).
- The Ministry Resource Center collection is housed in the Divinity Library.
- All microfiche are on-site. Most monographic and serial microfilms are housed at the LSF.
More than half our collection is housed in Yale's high-efficiency, off-campus Library Shelving Facility. Materials held in the LSF may be requested through Orbis by using the Place Requests button. A valid Yale ID is required to place a request. If you do not have a valid Yale ID, ask a library staff member or email the library at email@example.com for assistance. Items marked "non-circulating" may be requested but must be used in the library. You may also use Place Requests to page circulating materials from other Yale libraries.
The place to start in accessing the Library's collections is on-line.
Yale's on-line public catalog, Orbis, now contains bibliographic records for all of the Divinity Library's cataloged materials, along with most other collections at Yale. You can browse Yale's library shelves electronically via Orbis. You can search by author, title, subject, call number, or keyword. See the Divinity Library's Research Tutorial for tips on searching.
Archival finding aids are available online.
Finding aids for the Divinity Library's archival and manuscript collections are available on-line through the Yale Finding Aid Database. Divinity finding aids can also be accessed through the Yale Divinity Library Guide to Archives and Manuscript Collections. Requests to use Divinity Library archival materials can be submitted electronically, using the Yale Divinity Library Special Collections Request Form. You do not need a Yale ID to submit this form.
Search first, then come.
Researchers who are coming to New Haven for a brief period of time are urged to submit requests for books and archival resources beforehand, to allow time for the materials to be paged to the Divinity Library. As a general rule, it will take one working day for materials to be paged from the Library Shelving Facility, and up to three days from other libraries on campus. Feel free to submit reference inquiries to the Divinity Library email address (firstname.lastname@example.org ) as well; the Divinity Library staff may be able to recommend additional resources for your research.