Back to School: Resourcing Students

The Winebrenner Theological Seminary Board of Trustees, in collaboration with faculty, staff, and students, has made the decision to shift library resources. Effective Fall 2021, we now collaborate with the Digital Theological Library for research resources.

For the last several years, Winebrenner Seminary has been collecting data on library usage through course evaluations. Because of results of that data, a decision was made earlier in 2021 to make significant changes in our library resources. Winebrenner Seminary is transitioning away from its long-standing relationship with the Shafer Library at the University of Findlay where we have enjoyed nearly 20 years of harmony and collaboration. However, the need for a physical library has greatly diminished based upon shifting student demographics. With students from 22 different states in the current term, it is important that we transition to offer fully online resources to better serve all students.

Students now have access to the Digital Theological Library (DTL) anytime, anywhere they have an internet connection.

The Digital Theological Library is its own non-profit organization. Every member school becomes a co-owner with a seat on the board. The DTL is a consortium of seminaries and Bible colleges who need distance education materials. It maximizes the power of volume, so that some smaller seminaries are able to access materials that otherwise would be cost prohibitive. They provide over 66,000,000 articles, 350,000 books published in the last 25 years. What about 5 years? They give access to 50,000 books published over the last 5 years. Students have access to nearly ten times the theological volumes as they did the previous year. The Winebrenner collection had a fraction of that in recently published books.

The decision for change was one with students at the center! The DTL focuses their resources on current students, faculty, and staff. Though, they have an ongoing project to begin something for alumni of member schools (nothing yet to announce).  The DTL organization maintains the Digital Theological Library , Digital Theological Library 2, a Global DTL, as well as Open Access Digital Theological Library available to anyone.

The Winebrenner collection was donated to DTL after a unanimous vote by the Board of Trustees with full support, input, and a unanimous vote of faculty and staff. The contract to donate the books gives them possession of those books. The DTL staff digitizes each book. As long as they own a hard copy of the book, they are able to make a digital copy available, with a one-to-one correspondence. Therefore, they retain the books in shipping crates (the size of a semi-truck).

Students gain access to books that are sometimes hard to find, out of print, and/or cost prohibitive for individual acquisition. One such book will be used by students in the Doctor of Ministry course, Integrated Biblical Leadership Paradigms. To accomplish the goal of reading biblical theology books of multiple models, students need access to one such book. Because of their digital licensing methods, such a book can be accessed digitally. Access ends when their reading session ends; therefore, multiple students are able to “check-out” that book over the course of several days. Previously, there would have been no way to provide access to such content for Winebrenner students.

The DTL is an affordable option for geographically distributed students. Through this collaboration, Winebrenner continues a commitment to affordability, accessibility, and quality education that equips leaders for service in God’s kingdom.

  • Dr. Bruce Coats, Academic Dean, Winebrenner Theological Seminary
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