With the print collections of the Centre for the Study of World Christianity (CSWC) Library, set up by Professor Andrew F. Walls, now having been in our care at the Annexe for a year, the time to say goodbye again is approaching.
Over his long career spanning over 50 years Professor Walls has held posts (among others) at the UK universities of Aberdeen, Liverpool Hope and, of course, Edinburgh. The scope and nature of his research led the magazine Christianity Today to describe him in 2007 as ‘a historian ahead of his time’ and ‘the most important person you don’t know’.
As the topic of the influence exercised by different religious groups within British society is at the forefront of the public interest the moment, Professor Walls’s outlook on the way Christianity has moved and developed over the years is certainly pertinent. And his unique outlook is reflected in this collection that he gradually built up over the years of his career as a missionary and academic. Apart from Professor Walls’s main interest in the development on Christianity and Christian mission in Africa (which he saw as a reflection of the future of Christianity as a whole), the collection contains material that illuminates the way that the Western world has viewed eastern religions and vice versa. The CSWC collection is a unique resource on the topic. However, previous access to this collection was irregular.
When the collection was added to the fold at the Annexe, it was partially to make it accessible on a wider basis (via intra-library loans available to all users), but also to allow work to be performed on this diverse collection. Indeed, over the past year requests for CSWC items became a regular part of our workflow at the Annexe. As the collection has gradually grown over the years since its donation to the New College library by Professor Walls, now was an opportunity to streamline it and make easier to both access and manage.
To this end, here at the Annexe we have used our time with the World Christianity collection, in collaboration with colleagues throughout Information Services, in order to carefully work through the 11,000 items contained in it. A number of projects were set up to ensure that the material is consolidated, itemised, and re-classified. Each item (books and pamphlets) will be individually processed and the collection streamlined, ready for its re-integration to the Library of Congress stock at New College library later this summer. As an off-shoot of this process, a small part of the collection will be divided and sent to complement the Andrew Walls Collection currently held at Liverpool Hope University, forging a strong collaborative link.
Iraklis Pantopoulos, Library Annexe Assistant