MLK Jr. Day 2021 Closings and Resources

Monday, January 18 is the 35th Martin Luther King Jr. Day, celebrating the Civil Rights leader’s life and legacy. Pitts Theology Library will be closed for the federal holiday and resume normal operations on Tuesday, January 19th. 

In recognition of MLK Jr. Day, Pitts draws attention to some exceptional holdings in its Claude H. Thompson archival collection. Professor Thompson was a member of the faculty of the Candler School of Theology teaching Systematic Theology from 1951 to 1971, and during his career he maintained correspondence with Dr. King regarding elections, the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize, and the 1960 Greyhound Lines incident in Jacksonville, Florida. We invite you to read about Prof. Thompson and these fascinating exchanges while the library is closed for the federal holiday! In addition, check out high resolution scans of the letters online!

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Library Hours & Services: January Term 2021

The Winter Intercession has come to a close and the staff at Pitts are back to assist Emory students, faculty, and staff during the upcoming semester! January term courses at Candler start January 4th, and run through Friday January 22nd. Pitts Theology Library will continue its modified services and hours from the fall, which include study space by reservation, electronic document delivery, and book request/retrieval. The building will be open to Emory faculty, students, and staff only on Monday–Thursday from 9am–4:30pm.

Questions? Chat or email librarians at!

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Pitts Holiday Updates

The holiday season is upon us, and Pitts Theology Library will be modifying its services and hours as the campus quiets down for the winter recess. Please find updates below, and don’t hesitate to contact with questions or concerns!

Library Access
In light of the ongoing COVID-19 situation and recommendations from health professionals, Pitts will continue to operate under its new request and retrieval model. This means that patrons will not have physical access to the library space, but all Emory patrons (faculty, student, and staff) can make requests for circulating books through discoverE. Those items will be pulled by Pitts staff, held at the circulation desk, and patrons can come and pick up their materials at the entrance to the library. The library is closed as study space for patrons during the winter intercession. 

Library Hours
December 14–17: 9am-4:30pm
December 18–20: Closed
December 21–23: 9am-4:30pm
December 24–January 3: Closed

Special Collections
The Special Collections Reading Room is closed to researchers during the winter intercession (Dec. 14, 2020–Jan. 3, 2021). Digitization requests will be completed as time and limited staffing allows. 

Reference & Instruction
Librarians will still provide remote reference services during the hours in which the library is open (see above). Live chat support will be available Monday–Friday from 10am–2pm. Zoom research consultations can be scheduled as availability allows at

During the recess, Pitts encourages Candler students, faculty, and staff to use the many online resources available to them.

Video Tutorial: Using Online Reference Materials
Video Tutorial: Finding eBooks
Video Tutorial: Finding Articles

Electronic Document Delivery
Electronic copies of journal articles and book chapters from any of Pitts Theology Library’s print collections can be requested by current Emory University students, faculty, and staff at no charge. This service does not apply to resources available full-text online. This service is designed for the delivery of SINGLE copies of items, and is not a photocopy service. 

Find instructions for placing an Electronic Document Delivery request here.

Holiday Book Tree
Former Head of Research & Access Services, Sarah Bogue, led a whole team of Pitts staff to construct the largest book tree since the tradition’s inception several years ago! During this period of remote learning and limited building access, other members of the Pitts team chipped in to give this year’s book tree a virtual presence in a variety of capacities. Visit to see a reel of step-by-step pictures, a 3D model, and a virtual tour of the structure that stands over 5 feet tall and 4 feet wide!

On behalf of the Pitts staff, we wish all a safe and pleasant holiday!

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New Incunabula Additions at Pitts

Pitts Theology Library recently acquired a number of incunabula at an online auction, raising the library’s holdings of these books printed in the 15th century to 115. Among these new acquisitions is the first part of a 1485 printing of the Summa Theologica by Antoninus of Florence (1389-1459), initially printed in 1477. Antoninus was a Dominican preacher who served as Archbishop of Florence from 1446 to 1459, occupying an important political office that occasionally put him at odds with the powerful Medici family. He was canonized in 1523 by Pope Adrian IV (who was both preceded and succeeded by a Medici Pope) and has sometimes been called a doctor of the church, although the title was never officially conferred on him. Antoninus’ Summa is considered his main theological achievement and is recognized as providing new impulses in moral theology at the dawn of the Renaissance. The pragmatism that pervades the work and which is informed by his public preaching in Florence has at its core a concern for the good of the civic community, which often stresses the social responsibility of the rich to the poor. The book, which is beautifully rubricated with initials and marginal illustrations in the medieval style, was previously held by the Lutheran Theological Seminary of Gettysburg, PA, and came from the collection of Dr. Jeremiah Zimmerman (1848-1937), a Lutheran pastor, educator, and book collector.

For more information about rare books and incunables at Pitts, click here!


Content by Armin Siedlecki, Head of Cataloging and Rare Book Cataloger

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Thanksgiving Holiday Closures

The Thanksgiving holiday is just around the corner, and Pitts is getting in the mood with these fun feasting woodcuts from the Digital Image Archive! A friendly reminder that the library will be closed from Wednesday November 25th to Sunday November 29th. Find all Pitts library hours at We hope you enjoy your socially distanced family feasts! 

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New Special Collections Additions at Pitts

Pitts recently added a number of interesting volumes to its world-renowned Richard C. Kessler Reformation Collection, including two works that have a curious connection to the Augustinian monastery Rebdorf in Eichstädt (Bavaria). The first is an anti-Lutheran tract by Kilian Leib who served as prior of the monastery for half of the 16th century (1503 to 1553). Like Luther, Kilian Leib was an Augustinian humanist, but became fierce defender of Catholic doctrine. In 1530 he participated in drafting the Confutatio Augustana, a Catholic response to the Augsburg Confession. In the book recently acquired by the Pitts, Leib outlines 7 causes for the Lutheran heresy, which include among others an unfavorable constellation of the stars, ordained by God to punish humanity.

The Kessler Collection also added a 1497 printing of Jerome’s commentaries on the Old Testament prophets that was once held by the library of Rebdorf monastery, as attested by an inscription in an old hand on the title page and blind stamp on the binding of the front cover with the name Rebdorf. It is not certain that the Jerome commentary was in the monastery’s possession during Kilian Leib’s tenure as prior, but we know that Leib was responsible for building up the holdings of the monastery’s library. The monastery itself was secularized in 1806 and became first as a prison for forced labor, then as a high school before being purchased by the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart in the mid-20th century. It now serves as a monastery and boarding school, but much of its library has been scattered throughout various collections around the world.

Check out more holdings in Pitts’ Special Collections online!


Content by Armin Siedlecki, Head of Cataloging and Rare Book Cataloger

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Library Services for Finals and Term Papers

As hard as it may be to believe, the end of the Fall 2020 semester is on the horizon! As you turn toward final exams, research term papers, and finalize thesis topics, we at Pitts wish you the best of luck! Below are some reminders about library usage.

Library Space

Students who are approved to be on campus can reserve seats for 90 minute blocks in Pitts, until Thanksgiving, when Pitts will close to patrons. While the circulating and reference materials remain accessible to library staff only, students can use the library as a quiet space to study and write while on campus. Printers and scanners are also available for students, faculty, and staff. To reserve seats, visit the Pitts reservations page. For more information on using the library space, visit the Pitts Librarians’ Blog. Don’t forget that Woodruff Library also has study spaces available for reservation.

Accessing Books

Even though patrons can’t access the stacks to browse the shelves or pick a book up, requesting an item from circulating materials has never been easier! Each day, library staff process new book requests, pull items from the shelves, and check them out for pick up. Make your request, watch for your confirmation email, and set aside time to pick up your books. For more, follow the instructions on our special Requests page.

Are you unable to come to campus or just prefer using ebooks? You’re In luck! Since last spring, Pitts has purchased hundreds of new ebooks that can be accessed anywhere. Finding ebooks is as easy as doing a keyword or item search in discoverE and limiting your results to “ebook” or “Full Access Online.” Visit Pitts’ YouTube page to see a short how-to video about finding ebooks.

Scan Requests

Need an article that isn’t available online or a section of a commentary or other book on Reference? Simply visit, to find instructions for placing a scan request. Once you make your request, library staff will be hard at work to get that scan to you within 48. Be sure to follow the instructions to automate the delivery process. If you have any questions just ask.

Research Consultations

Pitts Reference Librarians have you covered for every step in your research process. We’re here to help with everything from finding the perfect research question to using citation software. Even though we can’t meet with you at the Reference Desk, we are more than happy to chat or Zoom with you. Just schedule an appointment with us!

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The Reformation of Suffering: A Kessler Conversation with Prof. Ronald Rittgers

Don’t miss the final installment of the Fall 2020 Kessler Conversations at Pitts Theology Library, a series of online interviews with leading church historians and theologians, asking this question, “What relevance do the events, personalities, and texts of the Protestant Reformation hold for contemporary communities?” These 30-45 minute conversations offer opportunities for the general public to learn about the events in Europe the 16th century and to consider what they tell us about the issues facing our communities. Conversations each semester will focus on a single contemporary theme and trace it back to the Reformers. This Fall, the Kessler Conversations focus on disease, healing, and pastoral care in the 16th century.

November’s conversation this week is with Dr. Ronald Rittgers of Valparaiso University. Professor Rittgers joined the VU faculty in the fall of 2006 after having taught for seven years at Yale University. He is the first occupant of the Erich Markel Chair in German Reformation Studies and serves as Professor of History, Theology, and Humanities. Professor Rittgers is interested in the religious, intellectual, and social history of medieval and Early Modern/Reformation Europe, focusing especially on theology and devotion. He will be speaking on the topic of “The Reformation of Suffering,” and the event will be live-streamed on November 4th at 12pm EST. Register for free at

In addition, catch up all September and October’s Kessler Conversations with Professors Anna Johnson (Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary) and Erik Heinrichs (Winona State University) at! 

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Theological Libraries Month 2020

October is Theological Libraries Month, celebrated to increase awareness of the importance and value of libraries serving theology and religious studies programs through communications and activities for faculty, administrators, staff, and students. As Pitts Theology Library joined Emory and universities around the globe in the shift to remote research and learning in response to the Covid-19 crisis, it was faced with the question “what does theological librarianship mean in the digital world?” From cataloging to communications, Pitts took action to revise and transform its standing policies, procedures, and services.

First, Pitts ramped up its digital publication efforts starting with the Candler School of Theology 2020-21 Catalog and Handbook, which is available online and in a 250-page PDF. Pitts and Candler staff worked together to compile, edit, and publish the catalog. Pitts has also published a translation by Jim West titled Huldrych Zwingli: The Implementation of the Lord’s Supper, which is now online and in PDF form. In addition, Pitts is working to produce digital versions of past print publication in the near future.

The library’s technical services also embraced change. While cataloging often involves direct interaction with books, there is also much that can be done remotely to facilitate better access to the library’s resources. Cataloging librarians and staff worked hard to make more e-books and digital resources available, but physical resources also need good and consistent metadata to be discoverable. The past few months have also provided Pitts librarians with an opportunity to catch up on cataloging microform resources and to evaluate and improve the data in the online catalog for the benefit of students and researchers.

In acquisitions, staff adapted collecting methods to best serve patrons during remote learning while making sure that the library maintained the quality of resources and collection integrity that researchers depend on from Pitts. Since March, the library purchased more than 250 ebooks and continue to increase our electronic resource offerings through electronic databases and ejournals as well. Staff have worked with students and faculty to find solutions for inaccessible items and are encouraged by the innovation and collaboration that has made it possible for research and theological education to continue despite these challenges. 

The Special Collections department, which houses the library’s archives, manuscripts, and rare books, has expanded its digitization efforts to meet the needs of students, faculty, and other researchers. In addition to providing researchers access to these digital materials by request, the library staff is currently developing a digital repository so that these materials will be available to the wider public through the library’s website. For Emory-affiliated researchers who need to use special collections materials on site, the Graham-Jeschke Reading Room is open by appointment. See here for more details on scheduling a research appointment:

Serving the Candler community during the COVID-19 pandemic gave the Pitts circulation team the opportunity to evaluate and expand the library’s offerings to meet the changing needs of our patrons, who lead multifaceted lives not only as academics, but also church and community leaders. By facilitating contactless book checkouts, opening Document Delivery services to the entire Candler community, and transitioning to fully-digital course reserves, the public services staff supported learning and teaching by lowering barriers to access, and continues to refine and reassess services as our patrons’ needs evolve.

Pitts Theology Library is perhaps best known for its annual events, including Reformation Day, exhibition openings, film screenings, and guest lectures. As the physical campus closed, the library’s new venue of online events opened, facilitating participation not only for regular attendees, but audiences across the globe. Using streaming software like Bigmarker, Pitts engaged special speakers for a new series of “Kessler Conversations” asking this question, “What relevance do the events, personalities, and texts of the Protestant Reformation hold for contemporary communities?” This new format generated a renewed interest in library sponsored events and is an exciting prospect for future programming.

Finally, research support and instruction by the reference team took on an entirely different presence in the digital world. Content that was previously taught in in-person orientation sessions or course visits migrated online through new video series, demonstrating everything from using Zotero to formulating a research question. All workshops and video tutorials are archived and made freely available online. Rigorous training on using the reference tool LibAnswers improved the quality and responsiveness to research inquiries submitted through email or chat at In addition, a new booking system for Zoom consultations gave students the opportunity to schedule one-on-one, in depth sessions with reference librarians. 

All of these changes allowed Pitts Theology Library to both celebrate the past and look to the future as it reshapes its legacy of serving the Candler, Emory, and wider communities. Join us in celebrating these and efforts around the globe that lay the groundwork for Theological Libraries Month!

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Open Access Week 2020

October 19–26 2020 is the tenth annual international Open Access Week, when scholars around the world celebrate resources that are open to everyone and advocate for more scholarship to be made freely available. 

For many of us, this week passes without great fanfare. We may have heard the term “Open Access,” but it’s rarely at the forefront of our minds. There are so many other things to worry about, so why should we take the time to support this issue?

If you support equitable access to education, you should support open access!

The average cost of accessing a single journal article without institutional access is $33 ( From some publishers, this cost can exceed $100. This limits access to scholarly resources to people with the financial means to pay these exorbitant fees or the privilege of being associated with a higher education institution. Open Access argues that scholarship should be available to everyone regardless of their financial or educational status!

If you think it’s important for people to use high-quality, peer-reviewed resources, you should support open access!

Even if people know the value of using scholarly resources, they aren’t able to do so if these resources are behind paywalls. Instead, they have to turn to information available without fees, which can be outdated, inaccurate, and from unreliable sources. Open access works to make the best information from the world’s experts available for everyone! 

If you’re a scholar and you want more people to read and cite your work, you should support open access!

According to a 2018 study, articles that are available through Open Access are cited an average of 18% more frequently than non-Open Access articles. Although studies have been published that attempt to disprove this, these studies are often conducted by publishers who are incentivized to increase their own profits, such as this article from Elsevier.

Whether you’re a student, faculty member, alumnus, or community member, Open Access affects you. Making more scholarship available to a greater number of people makes everyone more well-informed and widens the circle of voices who are included in scholarly discourse. 

Thanks to the tireless work of Open Access advocates over the past decade, there is more openly available scholarship now than ever before! We’ll be highlighting some of our favorite Open Access resources this week on Pitts social media. However, this does not mean that the fight for Open Access scholarship is complete. 

How to help: 

If you’re a student…

  • Submit your work for publication in Open Access journals.
  • Learn how to use Open Access resources for your research. Look for highlighted resources this week on Pitts social media!
  • Share Open Access resources with your peers, including those outside your school. Your family, friends, and others will appreciate knowing where to get high-quality information for free! 

If you’re a faculty member…

  • Prioritize publishing in Open Access journals or with Open Access licensing.
  • Talk to your institution about funding for Open Access publishing- if it isn’t present, advocate for it with your peers! Information about Open Access publishing funds from Emory is here:
  • Encourage your students to use Open Access resources in their scholarship. If you don’t know where to start, ask our Reference Librarians! 

If you’re an alumnus or community member…

  • Contact your legislators to pass Open Access legislation! Your tax dollars fund research; shouldn’t you be able to read it for free? The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition has more information about recent Open Access legislation here: 
  • Share Open Access resources with your friends, family, and colleagues! The more people who use and appreciate these resources, the easier it is to advocate for there to be more of them. 

If you are looking for Open Access resources and databases to use in your own research consider the following options: 

  • The Open Access Digital Theological Library brings together Open Access materials for religious and theological studies. The website integrates resources from around the world so that you can find the best Open Access materials for religious and theological studies in one place!
  • Open Access Publishing in European Networks (OAPEN) exists to bring together academic publications in an Open Access infrastructure and framework. Their coverage includes many different areas of study, but you can limit your searching by subjects relevant to religious and theological studies. 
  • The Directory of Open Access Journals indexes over 15,000 Open Access journals and over 5 million articles. This is a community-led project, independent project so check back regularly for new journals that weren’t there before! 
  • The Directory of Open Access Books catalogs books from different publishers and over diverse subject areas. Limit your browsing to Philosophy and Religion for items relevant to theology and religious studies. 
  • Emory Libraries’ Scholarly Communication Office has more information about publishing Open Access and Open Access resources at Emory. Check out their site to find OA resources published by Emory researchers!

Content courtesy of Brady A. Beard (Reference and Instruction Librarian) and Caitlin Connelly Soma (Acquisitions, Serials, and Assessment Librarian). 

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