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Concordia Seminary library begins major digitization project

In the coming decade, Concordia Seminary, St. Louis will make some 10,000 books and manuscripts, including more than 6,000 volumes in its rare book collection, available to scholars worldwide thanks to the mobilization of a monumental digitization effort.

The Seminary’s Kristine Kay Hasse Memorial Library [1], the largest Lutheran library in North America, will begin using state-of-the-art technology in the coming months to photograph, scan and convert its most fragile and unique manuscripts and books into electronic files. It will take about a decade to complete the process of digitizing all of the materials.

“This process of digitizing our extraordinary collection of theological resources will serve to ensure the Seminary maintains it ranking among the top libraries for Lutheran resources and especially rare books,” said Dr. Paul Robinson [2], the Seminary’s director of Library Services. “In the library world, it is expected for libraries to have a digitized version of rare and special collections. With this new equipment, we will meet that expectation and also attract scholars who otherwise may not have known about the resources we have. Our impressive collection will be much more widely discoverable and accessible.”

The Seminary’s first priority will be to scan some of its most treasured items, including manuscripts and about 50 early printed books that are believed to only exist in the Seminary’s collection. Each book or manuscript will be photographed using a high resolution camera designed to allow for scanning even the most fragile books without laying them flat and damaging their delicate bindings.

The camera’s revolutionary software, Capture One Cultural Heritage, automatically corrects page distortion with alignment and precise color. In addition, the software orders the pages and provides metadata indexing that will create accurate, consistent and professional images of the Seminary’s materials.

“There will still be scholars who will want to come and see the actual book in St. Louis,” Robinson said. “But for people who want to read the book, they will be able to access the digital file from anywhere.”

The library’s digitization project has been funded by Seminary donors who have contributed to Generations: The Campaign for Concordia Seminary and its successor campaign, Generations 20/20, which together have raised more than $270 million, including nearly $10 million for library and learning technology.

“We are so grateful to our generous donors who have made this very special and historic project possible,” said Vicki Biggs, senior vice president of Seminary Advancement and chief communications officer. “It is because of these wonderful friends and supporters that we are able to purchase state-of-the art equipment that will vastly improve the library’s digital capability. We look forward to preserving our library’s rare gems and offering increased access to the Seminary’s renowned theological resources for generations to come.”

To learn more about the Seminary’s library, visit csl.edu/library [1].

About Concordia Seminary

Concordia Seminary, St. Louis provides Gospel-centered graduate-level theological education for pastors, missionaries, deaconesses, scholars and other leaders in the name of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) [3]. To learn more, visit csl.edu [4].

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