Online theology library a ‘quantum leap’ in sharing knowledge

Online theology library a ‘quantum leap’ in sharing knowledge

More than 10,000 users have signed up for an online theological library supported by the World Council of Churches (WCC) that offers worldwide access free-of-charge to thousands of full text articles, dissertations and other documents covering theology and ecumenism.

GlobeTheoLib, the Global Digital Library on Theology and Ecumenism, was launched in September 2011 as a joint project of the WCC and Globethics.net, a Geneva-headquartered foundation promoting dialogue on ethical issues.

GlobeTheoLib uses the electronic platform of Globethics.net, which started a Global Digital Library on Ethics in 2008.

The online theology library holds more than 600,000 full-text documents, according to a report presented to the annual meeting of the GlobeTheoLib Consortium in Geneva from September 21-22. Registered users come from all continents and the main Christian traditions.

The web portal is multilingual, and Chinese-language users now have access to the full GlobeTheoLib portal in Chinese alongside English, French, German and Spanish. Indonesian and other languages are in preparation. Documents can be submitted in any language.

GlobeTheoLib aims to use new digital models of information exchange to create greater visibility for theological knowledge and insights from churches of the global South.

“A strength of GlobeTheoLib is its networking potential as a hub linking other theological initiatives online,” said Professor Dr Christoph Stückelberger, executive director and founder of Globethics.net.

The report to the Consortium highlighted major steps taken in the past 12 months to forge links with regional and denominational digital resource collections.

These include partnerships with the Senate of Serampore College (University) system, which groups more than 50 theological institutions in India and beyond; the Forum of Asian Theological Librarians; the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa; and the digital library of the Volos Academy for Theological Studies in Greece, the first such online Orthodox theological library.

At the same time, hundreds of key theological articles from Latin America are being made available through a special project with a GlobeTheoLib library assistant based at the Instituto Superior Evangélico de Estudios Teológicos in Argentina.

“The digital library project represents a quantum leap in sharing theological knowledge and making available resources for theological education, particularly South to South, East to West and South to North,” said the Rev. Dr Dietrich Werner, the WCC international program coordinator for Ecumenical Theological Education, which co-initiated and planned GlobeTheoLib.

An online directory of theological education institutions is being developed in conjunction with a global survey and research project on theological education.

The GlobeTheoLib Consortium is made up of more than 20 regional and international ecumenical organisations supporting the project, including associations of theological libraries and seminaries, mission organisations, foundations, Regional Ecumenical Organisations and Christian World Communions.

The annual meeting welcomed two new members of the Consortium: the Senate of Serampore College (University), and the European Theological Libraries association, known by its French acronym BETH.

A report from the meeting of the WCC Central Committee in Crete in August 2012 highlighted GlobeTheoLib “as an example of a project which the WCC was particularly well placed to undertake and where benefits far outweighed costs”.

Content for GlobeTheoLib comes from four major sources: commercial publishers with whom GlobeTheoLib has subscriptions to make content available to registered participants; rapidly growing Open Access repositories; partner institutions that make their own resources available via GlobeTheoLib; and registered participants who are able to submit their own documents to the library.

For more information: GlobeTheoLib media contact, Dr Stephen Brown, program executive, GlobeTheoLib +41-22-791 6342 (office) +41-78 639 2905 (mobile) or email.

To register for GlobeTheoLib go to: www.globethics.net/gtl

WCC Ecumenical Theological Education program

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