Yet another impression from VU Amsterdam………this time about the library
Part of my last month‘s mission in Amsterdam was to visit the VU University and Theology Library, a new home for the majority of our doctoral students, and to explore various possibilities for them in regard to how to use the library most effectively, how to get a WiFi, where to order the books, etc. For me, it was actually a refreshment to be in the library and not to keep in mind MARC 21, AACR2, authorities, Z39.50 and other highly specialized library tasks.
Mind you, several things seemed very strange to a conservative part of my personality, such as students entering the library area with books in their coats, with bags, even with coffee and sandwiches. I really do not want to know how the books over which a student has just had a snack look like, but hey, it is the Dutch way of understanding academic freedom, certainly not part of my librarianship philosophy.
But, there is something more important, namely that IBTS has received a strong partner. In the area of learning resources and library this partnership has a different impact than accreditation perspective. You see, I always had (and still have) many ideas that could be implemented in the Library, but not all of them were suitable for such unique, but still small library as ours inPrague. Being a small library means that there will never be enough personnel and finances to start some projects, and for our small number of visitors and patrons many of them would not give much sense.
But I have always envied big libraries for having a sufficient humanpower and infrastructure to develop all their ideas and to be able to provide the best possible service to students. In our Lady Library we were always student-oriented and made effort to provide as much service as we could, but I admit it was never the best possible service; what two (now only one) librarians and occasional volunteers can do could never be compared with the work of several tens of librarians in a machinery as VU University library is. If you could just see the number of online resources that VU Library provides and enter the premises with almost perfect conditions for making a research and writing, you would see the advantages that a huge Library can provide to students.
Therefore after my short Amsterdam trip I am actually very optimistic regarding the future: we will still have the best collection of English theological books in the area, and better resources on doing research in Baptist studies, missiology and applied theology than anyone else, but our Library will always remain a small library with limited possibilities. Therefore, it is good that our Lady Library has a new friend who will help her with service and resources.
- Zdenko Š Širka