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The Seminary Bookshelf is a private library owned by the Digital Theological Library (DTL), a California-based non-profit corporation funded by a group of seminaries around the world.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Seminary Bookshelf?

The Seminary Bookshelf is a library, but a different kind of library. With a traditional seminary library, a seminary buys a book (or journal) and that volume lies on the shelf unused until one of their students and faculty wants to check out that book. If the book is not checked out, the seminary may send the volume to another library for a patron at some other seminary to use for while through InterLibrary Loan (ILL). When the book is returned to the original library, it sits on the shelf until someone else (either at that seminary or at another library through ILL) wants to use the book. What the Seminary Bookshelf does is essentially the same, except we are bringing together scores of theological libraries into one large print collection and making the books available more efficiently through electronic delivery. Our physical books do not sit on library shelving. Instead, they are packed large storage units and their digital surrogate is circulated.

Does the Seminary Bookshelf work within the limits of copyright?

Yes, the DTL owns multiple print copies of the works in the Seminary Bookshelf Library. The Seminary Bookshelf operates on the principles of Controlled Digital Lending (read more about CDL). CDL is a well-established library lending operation that parallels traditional library lending. We can provide patrons access to a pdf copy of any book or journal that we own and have in storage (as long as no one is using the print book at the same time). In most cases, we have multiple copies of each book in storage, so we can provide access to multiple patrons at the same time. We can provide one patron access to our pdf copy of a book or journal for each print copy that we have in storage.

Who owns the Seminary Bookshelf?

The Seminary Bookshelf is owned by the Digital Theological Library (DTL), a California-based nonprofit corporation, which is funded by a group of seminaries around the world.

Can I download or print books or journals from the Seminary Bookshelf?

No. Content cannot be downloaded or printed in their entirety (that would be file sharing, not Controlled Digital Lending). However, you can print out individual pages of a book or journal one page at a time, using the print function in your browser (just as you could photocopy pages of a book in a traditional library).

Who may use the works in the Seminary Bookshelf?

The Seminary Bookshelf is intended to help supply religious professionals with the academic content required to engage in their vocational practice. (The Seminary Bookshelf is not intended for students (except students at our sponsoring seminaries); students at non-member seminaries should get the library support they need from their home institution.

How many books does the Seminary Bookshelf own?

The Seminary Bookshelf owns nearly 500,000 volumes and its collections are growing rapidly. (We routinely incorporate entire print libraries into our collections.) We have already made tens of thousands of these works available in this library. We add 300-500 titles to the collections per week.

Can I share my membership and access code with a friend?

No. Access codes are assigned to individuals. You cannot share your access code. Please act with integrity in this regard. Sharing your access code is a violation of your user agreement and may result in your code being deactivated.

What kinds of content are in the Seminary Bookshelf library?

The Seminary Bookshelf contains both books and journals (although the journals are not indexed at the article level). The content is primarily related to religious studies (especially Biblical studies), but the collection also has content from some related disciplines.

What theological tradition does the Seminary Bookshelf represent?

The Seminary Bookshelf collects content in all religious traditions. No tradition is favored over any other tradition, but the majority of the content addresses issues of concern to Western religious traditions.

Can individuals get access to the Seminary Bookshelf?

Yes. The user fee is $75 annually. Please contact us for details.

Can I request books to be added to the Seminary Bookshelf?

No. Due to the constraints of budget, we cannot add titles upon request.

Can I try out the Seminary Bookshelf without being a member?

No, we do not offer free trials. However, you can search the library to see what is available. You will not be able to view the content, but you can learn what is available.

Can I donate money to buy a particular book and can I donate books to the Seminary Bookshelf?

Yes. Please contact us.