Religious Studies was a core component of the original library of the University of Chicago. Today, teaching and learning support includes reference services, course reserves, library instruction and curriculum support, bibliographic management software, and technologically equipped classrooms. The Library has a large number of subject specialist bibliographers who build and maintain the various collections, including Anne K. Knafl, Bibliographer for Religion and Philosophy. Check Dr. Knafl's page for ongoing additions to resource guides, tours, and more.
The University of Chicago Library provides comprehensive resources and services in support of the research, teaching and learning needs of the University and broader research community. The Library has built holdings of national significance in many fields. s of 2013, it was the 9th largest research library in North America with 11.9 million volumes in print and electronic format, 51,760 linear feet of archives and manuscripts, and 117.5 TB of University electronic archives and research data. The University of Chicago Library is housed at six campus locations: the Joseph Regenstein Library for humanities, social sciences, business, and special collections; the John Crerar Library for science, medicine and technology collections; the D’Angelo Law Library; the Eckhart Library for mathematics, statistics and computer science collections; the Social Services Administration Library; and the new Joe and Rika Mansueto Library.
Locating the vast majority of the Library’s print collections in open stacks at five of its six campus locations allows users to access holdings rapidly and to make serendipitous discoveries while browsing. To maintain this extraordinary accessibility while growing collections, the Mansueto Library was opened adjacent to Regenstein Library in 2011. The Mansueto features an elliptical glass dome capping a 180-seat Grand Reading Room, state-of-the-art conservation and digitization laboratories, and an underground, high-density automated storage and retrieval system with the capacity to store 3.5 million volumes.
Research-level collections include humanities, social sciences, business, physical and biological sciences, medicine, technology, law, mathematics, statistics, computer science, social work, and area studies. The greatest strengths of the collections lie in areas that are broad as well as deep, such as the history of religions, both Western and non-Western; the literatures of East Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and Slavic and Eastern Europe; anthropology; sociology; the histories of science, technology and medicine; and the history of education. In addition, the Library is a leading advocate of digitization as a method of preservation and has created extensive digital collections accessible online to all.
Religious Studies was a core component of the original library of the University of Chicago, formed around the Berlin Collection (57,630 volumes and 39,020 dissertations, or 96,650 volumes in all) and the Baptist Union Theological Seminary Library (40,000 volumes), which included the Hengstenberg Collection and American Bible Union Collection. The Religion collection focuses on the academic study of religion rather than a confessional study with a focus on religious practice. Historic strengths of the collection include German scholarship in systematic theology, biblical studies, and the history of Christianity (due in part to the Berlin and Hengstenberg collections). The private libraries of Joachim Wach, Mircea Eliade, and Joseph Kitagawa were incorporated into the collections, thereby strengthening the Library’s focus on the history of religions. The private library of Marvin Fox strengthened the Library’s collection in Jewish studies, and specifically in Maimonides studies. Current strengths of the collection match those of the Divinity School (e.g., history of religions; biblical studies, especially New Testament textual and historical criticism). Thanks to the generosity of the Kern Foundation Endowed Theosophical Book Fund, the Library has a strong collection of Theosophical materials.
The Library’s physical and virtual spaces respond to the changing habits of its users to enrich the campus experience and to multiply the ways in which people can pursue inquiry. The Library preserves information across all formats and ensures effective storage and delivery systems.