News came over the wire yesterday that a pact has been struck between two institutions close to my heart, General Theological Seminary and Emory’s Candler School of Theology. Here’s the official news release from ENS. The perspective from Candler is here; GTS doesn’t have a press release on there site at the moment. One piece of data may help connect the dots: Lang Lowery—General’s Interim President—earned his MDiv at Candler the same time that M and I were there.
The key items here seem to be a book exchange. (The electronic and student exchanges don’t seem to be as significant to me.) Pitts Library in Atlanta will receive 80,000 to 90,000 books from GTS which should ease physical space conditions in New York. What Dr. Graham will do with them once they reach the ATL is an open question, though, barring a massive increase to the size of Pitts since last I was there!
What does this mean? The way I read it, Candler is helping out GTS by reducing the storage cost of the library materials. GTS is likely divesting itself of most of its non-Anglican focused materials to save space and reduce costs. I’ve said before (in chorus with others, of course) that seminaries attached to universities will be better equipped to survive in the emerging landscape than standalone institutions. What we see here is a consolidation of physical resources into a university-based seminary away from a standalone.
If this were a computer network, we’d say that there’s a trend moving from a peer-to-peer system where each unit has its own resources to a distributed computing model where a central server holds resources for thin clients. However, the resource under discussion here are books and people—physical things rather than data packets which concentrates control in the “server” institution.