Mission of the DTL
The mission of the DTL is to provide digital library support to not-for-profit educational institutions that specialize in religious studies.
History of the DTL
The DTL began as a conversation over lunch. Dr. Thomas E. Phillips, then dean of the library at Claremont School of Theology, and Mr. Gamward Quan, then CFO at Claremont School Theology, were talking about the difficulties associated with building a quality research library at a small theological seminary.
Those challenges are well-known: the content (both print and digital) is expensive; expert staffing is difficult to train and retain; and carrying costs for collections can be exorbitant.
Mr. Quan suggested that we needed to think very differently about libraries. He suggested that we create an independent not-for-profit corporation with the mission of creating one co-owned library for a large group of small seminaries. This corporation could then centralize operations for a cohort of seminaries, thereby vastly expanding access while reducing costs. That conversation took place in October of 2015.
The DTL was formed in January of 2016 as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation. Our first library, The Original DTL, went live on July 1, 2016, largely thanks to the extraordinary efforts of Dr. Drew Baker, then metadata librarian at Claremont School of Theology.
As of 2023, the DTL operates four separate libraries:
- The Original DTL (closed to new members)
- The Global DTL (now accepting new members in developing nations)
- The DTL 2 (now accepting new members)
- The Open Access DTL (free for all persons everywhere)
- The Seminary Bookshelf (now accepting individual members)
Collection Practices of the DTL
Although all DTL members are engaged in religious studies education, the DTL is non-confessional and non-sectarian. The DTL collects in all areas of religious studies (and related disciplines) without regard for tradition. The DTL rejects all forms of censorship.
Core Values of the DTL
Although the DTL is non-confessional, the DTL board has affirmed the following core values:
- Consistent Truthfulness in all its interactions with its members and vendors
- Treatment of all people as we would wish to be treated
- Respect for each school’s individual and unique mission
- Regard for the stability and sustainability of the DTL
- Commitment to co-ownership of the DTL and partnership for mutual advantage
- Desire for service beyond the narrow confines of the DTL membership