With the information on World Council of Churches (WCC) library and archives newly consolidated on the WCC website, the services and collections are more accessible than ever, making the legacy of the WCC come alive for people around the world.
Digitized WCC documents and other online materials are highlighted and presented in a more user-friendly way, and the previously separate webpages of the library and the archives are now collocated.
“The collaboration between the archives and the library has always been very strong,” said Anne-Emmanuelle Tankam-Tene, WCC archivist. “The new website makes this more visible for our users. And for us too, it is great to work with one and the same tool!”
The new WCC library catalogue allows people to search for the printed documents available at the WCC library in Bossey, said Pedro Nari, WCC librarian. “You don’t need to be at the library to do a catalogue search,” he explained. “This means you can check what is available before coming to the library or making a request.”
Users can refine their catalogue search by type of document—including books, journal articles, dissertations and more—as well as the year of publication and language.
“This new catalogue also better integrates access to online resources available on the WCC computer network,” added Nari. “Thus, we have with one tool the ability to browse both print and online documents for the students and faculty of the Ecumenical institute, and the WCC staff.”
The WCC library catalogue is part of a broader network of 470 Swiss academic libraries, meaning that, thanks to its unique collection on ecumenism, the WCC library has increased visibility among a broad community of researchers.
Streamlined online access has become even more important during the COVID-19 pandemic, Nari reflected. “With the increasing and prominent use of online devices, it’s now mandatory that we provide tools to allow people to easily find research material remotely and in a user-friendly way,” he said.
“Giving the best opportunity to all users – and especially the next generation of scholars, who are used to focusing on what’s available on the internet – to search online through all the resources we provide, including the very unique documents representing the legacy of the WCC, is for us a priority.”
Tankam-Tene said that digitization of some of the most significant publications of WCC, including Faith and Order papers and governance documents, had started before the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Giving direct online access to these kinds of resources has proved very useful during the pandemic and we feel very encouraged to go on in that direction,” she said.
What’s most often requested from the archives? “The correspondence of the WCC general secretariat is often the starting point for research on the role of the WCC regarding a particular issue,” said Tankam-Tene. “Research topics can be church history-oriented, with a focus on ecumenism or not, but most of the requests that I get are related to global issues such as refugees and migration, peace and disarmament, justice, freedom, education or health.”
Therefore, researchers often consult the archives of the WCC Commission of the Churches on International Affairs or the Commission on Inter-Church Aid, Refugee and World Service, Tankam-Tene added. “There are also requests focusing on ecumenical personalities, such as the former WCC general secretaries or, for one specific example, Brazilian educator Paulo Freire.”
In the library, there is strong interest in the publications of the WCC, and in journal articles related to the ecumenical movement.
“For broader research, people come onsite,” said Nari, “but for specific requests, both the WCC archives and library can provide digitized copies of articles, pamphlets, or letters."
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