On Friday, October 14, 2011 at 3:30 p.m. The General Theological Seminary (GTS) will formally dedicate the school’s new Christoph Keller Jr. Library, which opened to the GTS community late this summer. Presiding at the service will be the seminary’s Interim Dean, the Rt. Rev. Peter James Lee as well as the Chair of the Seminary’s Board of Trustees, the Rt. Rev. Mark S. Sisk, Bishop of New York. The service will begin in the Chapel with a liturgy of thanksgiving and brief remarks from many who worked so hard to make the library a reality. This will be followed by a procession to the new library and a short service of blessing at the entrance. An outdoor reception will follow. All are invited to attend this wonderful milestone in the Seminary’s history. Reservations, which are required, may be made by calling (646) 717-9735 or by sending an email to email@example.com .
The library’s new home is in a newly finished building on the eastern edge of the campus. Designed by the noted architectural firm, Polshek Partnership, the facade of the new building matches the stately brickwork of the rest of the campus while adding subtle modern touches. The library’s interior, designed by architects Beyer Blinder Belle, is a 21st century resource center, where students and scholars gather to collaborate, access online resources, and work with the unique materials of the Seminary’s special collections. Floor to ceiling windows in the library’s reading room provide sweeping views of the Seminary’s chapel and historic gardens and compact shelving on the lower level maximizes the library’s capacity.
The new library is named in honor of the Rt. Rev. Christoph Keller, Jr. (1915-1995), who served as 10th Bishop of Arkansas from 1970 to 1981. A patient pastor and a visionary leader, while serving in Mississippi Bishop Keller opened church doors that had long been closed to African Americans. Later in Arkansas, he was among the first bishops in the church to ordain women to the priesthood and he saw his diocese through years of accelerating change. A generous gift enabling the new library’s construction was made by Bishop Keller’s widow, Mrs. Caroline Keller Winter, and their son, the Rev. Canon Dr. Christoph Keller, III and his family. The Keller family has had a wonderfully long association with GTS. Mrs. Winter is a former GTS trustee. Decades earlier, Bishop Keller himself served on the Seminary’s board for close to twenty years. He studied at GTS in the 1950s and later received the Seminary’s Doctor of Sacred Theology in 1968. The Bishop’s son, Christoph Keller, III received General’s Doctor of Theology degree in 2009. Dr. Keller’s great-grandfather, the Rev. George Alexander Keller, attended GTS and was ordained deacon in 1876.
The library of GTS was begun in 1820 with donations of important books by prominent Episcopalians. It is the oldest Episcopal library in America. Its collections feature rare books from the 15th century forward, manuscripts as old as the 4th century and books and archives which make it a resource for the study of Anglicanism that is second to none. From 1885 to the late 1950s, the library was housed in Hobart Hall. When that building was replaced by Sherrill Hall in 1960, the library was called The St. Mark’s Library. The new Keller Library marks a new initiative with technology integrated into the study of theology. There are group study rooms with screens to share networked computer information, more electronic texts and databases. The Keller Library is a major theological resource supporting work of students and faculty at General and of visiting scholars from throughout the world. It is a gracious space where both old and new resources are easily reached and comfortable to use.