The World Council of Churches (WCC) has announced the opening of its consolidated library housed at the Ecumenical Institute, in Bossey, Switzerland, near its Geneva offices. The formal dedication took place Oct. 24 and was attended by WCC staff, Bossey students and faculty, and WCC and Bossey Institute friends.
“This consolidated library, which combines the Geneva and Bossey collections, will offer students and researchers one location for conducting ecumenical research while affording the WCC and Bossey Institute the capacity to grow its research facility,” said the Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the WCC.
Consolidation of the WCC library took place from February through July this year when the Geneva-based collection was systematically reviewed and volumes sent to Bossey.
Other books in the Geneva collection, including duplicate volumes, were donated to seminaries around the world through the Theological Book Network, as well as to the WCC archives.
The consolidated collection, still numbering about 110,000 volumes and dedicated to ecumenical research and education, is more tightly focused on the history of the ecumenical movement, Christian denominations, biblical hermeneutics, social ethics, missiology, contextual theologies and interfaith dialogue, according to the WCC librarian, the Rev. Andreas Waldvogel.
The WCC library actually antedates the organization itself and was initiated by a gift from Willem A. Visser 't Hooft, the first general secretary of the WCC.
The Bossey and Geneva libraries were formally merged in 2003, sharing a common budget and development policy, but their collections were dispersed in two sites, the bulk of the holdings remaining in Geneva. While the Geneva collection was more oriented to research, the Bossey collection was intended more for student use and each campus acquired publications in complementary categories.
“Now, with the physical move of the core ecumenical collections to Bossey, and the elimination of duplicate holdings, the WCC library is smaller in size but more focused and specialized in scope, which increases its historical and theological value,” said Waldvogel.
As a result of the consolidation, the library will also further develop its electronic resources both through commercial content (via consortial agreements with other libraries and publishers) and through open access content via GlobeTheoLib, a free online portal for theological education, research and ecumenical dialogue sponsored by the WCC and Globethics.
The WCC archive, which is closely linked to the WCC library, will remain in Geneva for specific archival research.
Plans for further development of the library, according to Waldvogel, include developing top-quality library services, strengthening the collaboration with the Library Network of Western Switzerland (RERO) and the University of Geneva, partnering with leading theological and ecumenical libraries in the world, reaching out to member churches and finding new ways of securing funds through sponsoring specific projects to meet the needs of its worldwide user community.
The Ecumenical Institute, the WCC’s graduate facility for ecumenical studies, conceived as an “ecumenical laboratory,” is now affiliated with the University of Geneva and offers both masters-level and doctoral degrees. The Institute functions as an international centre for ecumenical dialogue, theological formation and interfaith encounter.