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Anthony Elia has been named J.S. Bridwell Foundation Endowed Librarian and director of Bridwell Library in SMU’s Perkins School of Theology, effective June 1, 2018. He succeeds retiring director Roberta Schaafsma, who has served in that role since April 2007.
Elia, director of library and educational technology at Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis since 2013, will be responsible for providing vision, strategic direction and operational leadership for Bridwell Library. In addition, he will promote the development of collections and oversee the library’s public service and user education efforts.
“Bridwell Library is an extraordinary institution, both in the theological library world and the greater global community of research and scholarship,” Elia said. “It is a great honor to join such an exceptional staff and inclusive community, where students, teachers, scholars, lay community members, ministers, alumnae/i, and many others are able to work with world-class collections.
“The vision for Bridwell will be a vision of partnerships, engagement, and community participation, where all will continue to feel welcome to find inspiration and spirit in their work, life, and vocations,” he said.
Elia earned a B.A. degree in religious studies from St. Lawrence University, M.A. degrees in religious studies from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and in history of Christianity from the University of Chicago Divinity School, and the Master of Science in Library and Information Science (MSLIS) degree from the University of Illinois.
He brings significant expertise in library science and educational technology, which he has utilized in both U.S. and global contexts. From 2010-13, he served as head Public Services Librarian at Burke Library, Columbia University, and was a lecturer in theological writing at Union Theological Seminary, both in New York City. In addition, he has held positions at the JKM Library of McCormick Theological Seminary and Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, the American Theological Library Association, and the Regenstein Library, University of Chicago.
The author of numerous publications, he will present “The Theology of Cybersecurity” at the June 2018 American Theological Library Association (ATLA) conference in Indianapolis. Elia has held numerous leadership positions in his field, including membership on the Directors’ Committee of the Private Academic Library Network of Indiana (PALNI), where he also served as secretary of the Executive Committee. He was chair/president of the New York Area Theological Library Association (NYATLA) from 2011-12 and vice-president of the Chicago Area Theological Library Association (CATLA) in 2010. In addition, he was chair and past co-chair of the International Relations Round Table IVC Committee, American Library Association (ALA) from 2013-15.
Elia has also been awarded a number of grants, including a 2015-16 Wabash Center Grant for “Pedagogy of the Archive.”
A composer, Elia served as Composer in the Religion, Spirituality, and the Arts Seminar at Butler University and was also invited by the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra to deliver a pre-concert lecture on Olivier Messiaen and Theology in 2016.
“Anthony Elia brings extraordinary energy and intellectual curiosity to this position,” said Perkins Dean Craig C. Hill. “In addition to his academic degrees, he has studied some twenty languages, including work in Prague, Rome, and Nairobi. Just as important, he has demonstrated the ability to forge connections between a theological library and the wider university and community.”
The J.S. Bridwell Library—among the best theological libraries in the nation—includes a full range of theological, biblical, and historical materials relating to the development of Christianity. In addition to the material available in the basic lending collection of the library, which is strong in Methodist materials, Bridwell Library contains a number of special collections that are especially valuable for the study of topics related specifically to the background, rise, development, and present status of Methodism.
With total holdings exceeding 370,000 volumes, Bridwell Library’s Special Collections contain over 50,000 printed books dating from the fifteenth to the twentieth century. Most of the printed works in these holdings, often in first and early editions, are in the fields of theology, church history, scripture, liturgy, and philosophy. Many of these editions are distinguished by fine illustration and typography, notable provenances, and historically significant bindings. Holdings also include manuscript correspondence by John Wesley and other important figures in early Methodism, archival collections of American Methodism and private presses, and a small group of Medieval and Renaissance manuscripts.