May 7, 2001
Pitts collection reaches 500K
By Eric Rangus email@example.com
The Pitts Theology Library celebrated the acquisition of its 500,000th volume with a ceremony that included two guest speakers, May 1, in the librarys Durham Reading Room.
Dennis Norlin of the American Theological Library Association and Randy
Maddox, professor of Wesleyan theology at Seattle Pacific University,
joined Candler School of Theology Dean Russell Richey and Pat Graham,
director of the Pitts Library, at the podium to commemorate the occasion.
This milestone, Graham said, represents an occasion
for thanksgiving and reflection, a time to lift our eyes from the labor
of this day, to look about more broadly and be reminded of the aim of
With a half-million volumes, the Pitts Theology Library is the second-largest
theological library in North America, behind only the Burke Library at
the Union Theological Seminary in New York, which contains 595,000 volumes.
No single publication pushed Pitts over the top. Graham added three books
to the librarys collectionall written by members of the Candler
The trio of books is: God Dont Like Ugly: African American Women
Handing on Spiritual Values, by Teresa Fry Brown, assistant professor
of homiletics; The Soul of Congregation: An Invitation To Congregational
Reflection, by Thomas Frank, director of Methodist studies and associate
professor of church administration and congregational life (click here
for story); and Vol. 2 of The Methodist Experience in America: A Sourcebook,
which Richey co-edited. Those books represented numbers 499,999, 500,000
and 500,001 in Pitts collection.
We felt it appropriate that these [new acquisitions] be Methodist
productions, said Richey, who downplayed his inclusion among the
three by never mentioning it. Theres a huge portion of our
whole collection that grows out of the Methodist sense of the importance
of the printed word.
In his five-minute address, Norlin spoke of the three roles of a theological
library: preserving the past, securing the present needs of faculty and
students, and anticipating the future. Emorys theological library,
Norlin said, scores well on all counts, particularly in looking toward
No other library has taken such a lead in things like online cataloging
and digital collections, Norlin said.
In his keynote address, Maddox, whom Richey called one of the premier
interpreters of [John] Wesley of our day, spoke for 40 minutes on
the Methodism founders 1747 book Primitive Physick, which
has been variously viewed as an important collection of holistic medicine,
an explanation of the connection between the healing of the body and the
renewal of the spirit, and a an absurd, fantastic compilation of
uncritical folk-lore, as one book cited by Maddox claimed.
Wesley was trained in medicine in addition to theology, and he wrote
Primitive Physick as a guidebook to cure ailments ranging from baldness
to measles to obesity.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Maddox said, Wesleys work
was called into serious question. He quoted an excerpt from The British
Medical Journal that said, There is nothing in the book of value
It was historians later in the 20th century who put Wesleys work
in the context of his times. Maddox said Wesley culled his information
from medical textbooks of the day (not from knocking on doors and speaking
to old women, as is sometimes claimed) and was forward-thinking in many
ways. He did not advocate bloodletting, for example, as many doctors of
the day did.
In conclusion, Maddox said, Wesleys main concern, and one of the main reasons he wrote Primitive Physick was that medical care should be accessible to all, not just the well-to-do.