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Coronavirus Library closure : March 16 – June 10

Posted on March 13, 2020

We regret to announce that the Union Presbyterian Seminary Library must close to all users beginning Monday, March 16.

The Library will remain closed at least through June 10, at which time the situation will be reassessed.  Electronic resources remain available to all authorized users.

Library staff will be working remotely, and we encourage students and faculty to contact us with their questions or requests during this time.  Please bear in mind that if you phone we cannot answer, and it may take a while before we can check all phone messages.  Staffers whose help you might need are :

Ryan Douthat,, 804-278-4217
Remote electronic access to digital collections, catalog and circulation support

Robin McCall,, 804-278-4333
Remote reference and research assistance (for help with anything in the Special Collections, please inquire via email only,  not by phone)

Lisa Janes,, 804-278-4335
Circulation questions and issues with your account

Dora Rowe,, 804-278-4324.  Dora can arrange contact as well by cell phone, Skype or Facebook as needed
Remote library instruction via Zoom, help using digital tools (including RB Digital audio books), or copyright issues with online teaching

Irina Topping,, 804-278-4314
Book-buying and acquisition requests, either print or digital

Mengistu Lemma,, 804-278-4337
Interlibrary loan requests or questions

Christopher Richardson,, 804-278-4311
Library policy and oversight

For details concerning Charlotte campus library access and services :

David Mayo,, 980-636-1665
Circulation issues, reference and research assistance for Charlotte users

We will extend the due date for all materials as needed.  You may return borrowed items to the Morton Library by placing them carefully in the book drop beside our main entrance.

Access to Course Reserves still needed for the Spring Term is possible through the Blackboard site for your course, and through the Library catalog (as e-books or posted materials).  If you are unsure about this, please consult your course instructor, since every class arrangement is different.

Fortunately, we have much better e-book and digital periodical collections than we did only two years ago, thanks to Ryan Douthat’s diligent efforts to improve our holdings.  Authorized users are encouraged to make the most of these digital resources :

The Library homepage and Catalog (access to thousands of cataloged e-books, including many of the most-used biblical commentaries)
Online Databases — mostly full text
E-Journals Full Text Finder — entirely full text
Alumni and Member Research Portals
Finding and Using E-books guide
Digital Reference Sources at UPSem guide
Using the ATLA Religion Database and ATLAS Plus guide
Handbook of Library Access for Distance Education Students guide
Digital Documents and Archival Image Collections
“Request a Title” forms for Richmond and Charlotte

We do apologize for the disruption and inconvenience caused by this disease outbreak.  We will continue to do our best to ensure that you are able to complete your coursework as needed.  Thank you!



Visit by GA Co-Moderator

Posted on October 25, 2019

We enjoyed very much the visit to campus of the Presbyterian Church (USA) Co-Moderator, Valmarie Cintrón-Olivieri.  We gave her a tour of the beautiful William Smith Morton Library, and then a peek at a treasure of the history of Presbyterianism in Virginia.  This manuscript book contains the Minutes of the Synod of Virginia, founded in 1788 (the year the Constitution of the new United States of America was ratified).  It faithfully records in detail the business of the Synod, in beautiful 18th-century handwriting, offering a meaningful link to the Presbyterian church here through the centuries.

We also showed her the Makemie Desk (just visible in the background), owned by Francis Makemie, who came to the colony of Virginia in 1683 from Ireland and began the first four Presbyterian congregations.  Our Library also houses the manuscript minutes of the Presbytery of Hanover, founded by Samuel Davies in 1755.  We are now engaged in a digitizing project intended to make high-quality scans of these precious documents available for research online.  This page provides access to the volumes we have completed so far.

Julia Ward Howe and Victorian Women Hymn Writers

Posted on July 3, 2019

2019 is the 200th anniversary of the birth of the poet Julia Ward, later Howe, contemporary of Walt Whitman and Herman Melville (also born in 1819).   During the Civil War, she composed lyrics to the popular tune “John Brown’s Body,” offering the Union its most inspiring theme song.  She published volumes of poetry, travel narratives, and other writings.   She was very active in the struggle for the abolition of slavery and for women’s suffrage.  Howe was the first woman elected into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, in 1908.

Poetry and hymnody were among the few creative outlets considered acceptable for women during her lifetime.   Experiences of illness, bereavement, and suffering often were transformed by them into songs of faith and hope.   Many other women of the Victorian era likewise gave the church hundreds of immortal and meaningful hymns.

The William Smith Morton Library is offering a summer exhibit of items from our collection representing the contribution of Victorian women to the history of music in the church.

Summer Hours Now

Posted on May 29, 2019

Just a reminder that Summer Hours are now in effect at the Morton Library.  Because we have far fewer student workers during the summer, it’s more difficult to staff the Circulation Desk, and we need to cut back on open hours.  Thank you for understanding.

Please consult the Hours page under the About the Library tab :


Katie Geneva Cannon Research Collection

Posted on May 16, 2019

We are pleased to announce the inauguration of a new central source for information relating to the extraordinary life and work of Professor Katie Geneva Cannon, an esteemed and beloved leader of the Union Presbyterian Seminary community and a major scholar and authority in the field of Womanist theology and ethics.

This project was undertaken by the Library at the request of the 2019 graduating class, to honor the memory of Dr. Cannon and to promote and enable research in the field of which she was a pioneer.  The Director of our Instructional Resource Center, Dora Rowe, is curating this special collection of digital and physical information, and she has prepared the research guide you will find HERE.  This new guide will be enhanced and maintained over time as new resources become available.

The Class of 2019 welcomes gifts in aid of the purchase of new materials for this collection.  Class member Ben Brannan has prepared a donation site to support this project.  For more information and an opportunity to participate, please see Ben’s site HERE.

We welcome the addition to the Union Presbyterian Seminary community of new faculty member Rev. Melanie C. Jones as Instructor of Ethics, Theology and Culture, beginning this summer.  She will serve as Director of the Katie Geneva Cannon Center for Womanist Leadership on the Richmond campus.  We intend to work closely with Rev. Jones to develop the Cannon Research Collection and to enrich the work of Womanist theology and ethics at UPSem.


Wifi problems in Morton Library

Posted on May 15, 2019

UPDATE : John Wilson has installed a temporary router in the Ref Room, so you should be able to get online for now (a new permanent router has been ordered).  The network ID is SRC1002; you don’t need a password.


We regret to say that we have suffered a failure in our WSML wifi network here in the Morton Library.   All of the routers and repeaters are out of order.  However, it is possible to get online on the south end of the second floor, if you pick up the network called “Library 2F.”  We realize that this location is not convenient.

It’s also possible to use the desk computers in the Atrium, Reference Room or Patron Lounge if you need online access.  Those are working — it’s only the wireless that is affected.

Our IT department is aware of this difficulty and they are taking steps to deal with it.  When we have more information, we will share it with you.  We do apologize for this unwelcome development.


Faith in India : Her Faces and Spaces

Posted on March 25, 2019

Union Presbyterian Seminary will host a free public exhibit, titled “Faith in India: Her Faces and Spaces,” March 25 through May 10, 2019, at William Smith Morton Library, 3406 Chamberlayne Avenue, Richmond, Virginia 23227.

The exhibit will feature photography by local artist Zacchaeus Katta along with books from Morton Library’s collection pertaining to Indian Christianity. The Syngman Rhee Global Mission Center will sponsor a free gallery talk by the artist at 4 p.m. on April 4.

While almost 80 percent of the population of India is Hindu, other faiths are also practiced. India’s small but vibrant Christian community is arguably one of the oldest in the world. Tradition tells us that they were first evangelized by the Apostle Thomas, and the 16th century Portuguese definitely found an active and worshiping Christian family when they first arrived in India. Today, irrespective of religious-cultural diversity, universal values are, ostensibly, shared and practiced with respect and dignity throughout the country.

However, India struggles with the oppression of its past, and how it informs and continues into its present. Women, children and those in poverty are at risk, as are many of those who are not Hindu. Hundreds of thousands of people now resist subjugation by the rigid caste system that has controlled them for over three millennia and, even today, renders them socially invisible.

Zacchaeus Katta is an ordained pastor as well as an award-winning artist currently pursuing his Master of Science in patient counseling at Virginia Commonwealth University. His exhibitions have been housed in Richmond institutions, churches, and galleries like VCU Health System, Cross Roads Art Gallery, and Art Works Studio. Before coming to the United States, his work was exhibited in his native country South India, at United Theological College Bangalore, National Council of Churches in India, Nagpur; Medak Diocese, Hyderabad; and Yashoda Hospital, Secunderabad.



Dora Byrd Rowe
Instructional Services Librarian
Union Presbyterian Seminary



Feasting on the Word e-books now available

Posted on February 26, 2019

We’re happy to announce that we can now provide the whole Feasting on the Word series of lectionary study helps published by Westminster John Knox … remotely as e-books for our authorized users (current students, faculty and staff).  You will find bib records for each volume in our Library catalog.

In addition to the original Feasting on the Word : Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary series for Years A, B and C, we also have the Gospels series, the Children’s Sermons, the Worship Companions (liturgical resources), and the Thematic series for Lent and Advent.

To see the full e-book options, go to our Library homepage.  In the search box, enter a few words from the title, such as FEASTING WORD.  When you receive your search results, at the top of the filtering column on the left you can limit to ELECTRONIC RESOURCE.  There is a link to the electronic location of each book in its bib record.  If prompted, use your usual Library login (barcode number and PIN).

The e-book format is the capable and easy-to-use ProQuest Ebook Central interface.  You can read the book online, use the Table of Contents to go to a specific place in the book, download chapters, search within the book by keyword, print portions, save sections to your Bookshelf, etc.  Also, any Library user can make use of these features while working inside the Library (either Richmond or Charlotte), while authorized users can also do this remotely.

We hope you will enjoy using this new resource!


Icons Reimagined : Art Exhibit

Posted on November 8, 2018


Union Presbyterian Seminary is hosting a free public exhibit, titled “Icons Reimagined,” beginning November 1, 2018, at William Smith Morton Library, 3406 Chamberlayne Avenue, Richmond, Virginia 23227.

The exhibit features oil paintings and collage/mixed media works by local artist Kay Vass Darling, along with books from Morton Library’s collection pertaining to icons, worship, and iconography.  Twelve beautiful images are available for viewing.

“I have been creating and developing art based on icons since 2000. Visual influences range from the sacred art of Ethiopia, traditional religious images and Byzantine icons, decorative needlework, the Pattern and Decoration movement, and vernacular art,” said Darling. “I was interested in Byzantine Icons but was not interested in repeating that tradition as such. Seeing Ethiopian icons helped me to realize that there were different visual traditions in Christianity, that I was not tied to what I grew up with.”

A Virginia native who currently lives in Richmond, Darling has exhibited art at the Massey Cancer Center, Richmond Public Library’s Dooley Hall, and The Gallery at Convergence in Alexandria, VA. The Centre Gallery East at ArtWorks, the Petersburg Regional Art Center, and the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart have also exhibited her work, which is in many private collections.

She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art from Greensboro College, a Master of Theological Studies in Religion and the Arts from Wesley Theological Seminary, and a Master of Science in Information Science from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She has taught both art and religion in a variety of venues and was, until recently, the theological librarian at Virginia Union University’s Wilder Library, serving the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology.

The exhibit will be in place through mid-January 2019.

Compact Shelving Project

Posted on October 5, 2018

For several years now, we have been hoping to install some specially-fitted custom compact shelving in a secure space on the Lower Level.  We intend this area to house rare and unique items for which there is no room in the current Archives facility.

Well, it has actually happened!  We were able to obtain and install some spacious brand-new moveable shelving that will make that formerly inadequate space much cleaner and more functional.  It’s always amusing to see a writer or reporter refer to Archives as “musty” or “dusty” hiding places where objects go to die.  A modern, well-managed Archives facility is relentlessly organized and almost antiseptically clean, with everything boxed or wrapped in appropriate enclosures and placed in order on the shelves.  We have not yet reached that ideal, but we are moving toward it as steadily as possible.

These new shelves will initially be used to hold our pamphlet and church records collections.  When we are able to add more compact shelving in a larger space, this storage area will become essential for carrying out the large-scale stacks shifting necessary for our Library of Congress reclassification project.

We’re celebrating this step forward!


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