In 1923 the library at Asbury Theological Seminary operated as part of the Asbury College library before moving to basement of the Larabee-Morris building in 1939. Due to its growing collection, it changed locations two more times, securing a more permanent home in the bottom of Estes Chapel in 1953. The library moved into its current location in 1967 and was officially named the B. L. Fisher Library.
During this time the collection grew from 640 volumes in 1940, to 28,000 volumes in 1950, to 44,000 volumes in 1963. The growing collection necessitated a new, purpose built building. Reporting to the Trustees in 1963, then librarian Susan Shultz wrote:
Lack of adequate reader-space is only one cause for serious concern. Space in the workroom is now so limited that constant shifting is necessary and this eventually affects staff morale. From now on the administration of the library will become an increasingly expensive operation since constant shifting of materials will be necessary to make room for new acquisitions. It is quite obvious that some steps must soon be taken to remedy this situation.
The building is three stories and 37,100 square feet, designed to hold 150,00 volumes. By 1975 the collection had grown to over 100,000 volumes.
Susan Shultz retired in 1978 and William Faupel was named the new director of the B. L. Fisher Library. He successfully led the library until 2003 when then president Maxie Dunnam merged the B. L. Fisher Library and Information Technology into a department called "Information Services." Kenneth Boyd was named the dean, retiring in 2010. President Timothy Tennent once again split the library and IT departments, and Paul Tippey has served as the director of the B. L. Fisher Library since 2010. As of 2016 the library contains holdings of over 700,000 items.
The Library and Technology
With the merger of of the library and Information Technology in 2003, the library adopted the Information Commons model, blending the traditional services offered by libraries with a new emphasis on technology. Kenneth Boyd oversaw Asbury Theological Seminary's ATS 2000 project which brought state of the art voice, video, and data systems to ATS. In his role as Dean of Information Services, he oversaw the renovation and redesign of the library's building and services. The old computer lab that was housed on the main floor of the library, but managed by the IT department was removed and computers were dispersed over all three floors of the library. The reserves, circulation, and reference desks were consolidated into one new "Information Commons" desk that became a one stop shop where patrons received just in time learning for all questions and services ranging from checkout of books to technology support. The new Information Commons also opened a sports themed coffee shop on the first floor named "Time Out" that served Starbucks Coffee as well as snacks. The Information Commons also offered dedicated video editing computers and software.
Recently, the Information Commons took a new name. Now known as the Help Desk, the library staff still strive to meet the academic needs of students - both with regard to traditional library resources and technology. The B.L. Fisher Library offers approximately 16 computer terminals, audio and video equipment checkout, video editing stations, technology support, and a constantly growing collection of digital resources for library patron use.
*Portions of this section include material adapted from:
Kinghorn, Kenneth C. The story of Asbury Theological Seminary. n.p.: Lexington, KY : Emeth Press, 2010.
Shipps, Howard Fenimore, Robert A. Danielson, and Faith E. Perry. A short history of Asbury Theological Seminary. n.p.: Wilmore, Ky. : First Fruits Press, c2013.
The Asbury Theological Seminary (ATS) B.L. Fisher Library exists to support the objectives of the seminary by providing appropriate resources and services. The library (KY and FL) is committed to:
Playing a vital role in enhancing the global reputation of the Seminary.
Supporting teaching, learning, research, and service missions in all disciplines.
The transformation of teaching and learning across the Seminary.