New Edited Volume on Special Collections in Religion and Theology


Special collections of religious and theological materials have been part of the landscape of academic libraries in North America from their beginnings in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, largely due to their missions to train Christian ministers. Many libraries founded in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries came by their rare book collections with the retirements of faculty or ministers connected to their schools. Such materials presented opportunities for their use supporting academic programs, but they often also presented challenges, due to their condition and requirements for environmental and security measures.

All this to say, special collections in academic libraries were deeply interwoven into institutional histories and typically presented librarians with both opportunities and challenges—circumstances that continue to the present.


Books@Atla Open Press ( seeks essays and chapters for publication in a new edited volume on the topic of special collections of religious and theological materials, serving not only to explore and reconstruct the historical record of what libraries and librarians have done, but also to uncover and articulate the values, strategies, and aspirations connected with such collections.

Appropriate articles for the volume include the following:

  • historical treatments of specific special collections in theology and religion;
  • essays on those librarians or others who first gathered the materials and established the collections;
  • essays on strategies for building, supporting, and developing special collections;
  • investigations into how such collections might best serve researchers and the missions of their institutions currently;
  • analysis of the difficulties facing special collections in the future
Submission Guidelines

Inquiries on this project and proposals for articles should be submitted electronically by February 15, 2020, to  Proposals must include a 250-word abstract describing the topic and a working title for the article. Review of submissions will begin immediately.

Accepted authors must submit completed manuscripts by December 1, 2020. Articles should run approximately 6000 to 8000 words and conform to the Books@Atla Open Press Author Guidelines (see Step Three, Anticipated publication date is Fall 2021.