The Rev. John B. Trotti, who served as librarian at Union Presbyterian Seminary for 34 years, received the Award for Excellence in Theological Education at the 220th General Assembly on Thursday (July 5).
The award honors a person who has made an outstanding lifetime contribution to theological education in and for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
“Thank you for this honor. Deserved or undeserved, I’m happy to have it,” Trotti said.
A graduate of Davidson (N.C.) College, Trotti received his B.D. from Union Presbyterian Seminary and his Masters in Library Science from the University of North Carolina. He has taught at Union, Yale and Randolph-Macon (now Randolph) College. Before coming to Union, he served as pastor of Altavista (Va.) Presbyterian Church.
Trotti said he was trained to love books and libraries at an early age, when he helped his father sort products at a battery factory. Since then he has worked to provide “better books for the people that I love.”
He helped found a program at Union Seminary that sends unneeded books from the seminary’s library to theological schools around the world. That program has since sent more than 135,000 volumes to 103 institutions in 49 countries and sparked the creation of the American Theological Book Redistribution Project. In retirement, Trotti is still involved in leadership of the programs.
“The impact of his work extends across the church and indeed throughout the world,” said the Rev. Brian Blount, president of Union.
His younger colleagues are experts in technology, computer systems and new forms of media, Trotti said.
“As for me, I’m a book man,” he said, describing his ritual of listening to classical music while packing up books and praying for their recipients.
“Anything else you could do for me would be to go check out a book and read it,” Trotti said.