A visit to Heythrop Library

August 3, 2023

The Heythrop Library welcomed members of the Heythrop Association to the Library’s reading room at the London Jesuit Centre. About 30 former staff and alumni of Heythrop College (which closed in 2018) signed up for a tour of the Library and a talk about the collection.

The collection covers all the principal areas of theology and philosophy with a particular emphasis on works in the Catholic tradition. It is used by both students and researchers, and includes complete runs of periodicals, some of which are unique in this country. The Library is solely funded by the Jesuits in Britain and access is open to researchers, academics and those with a serious interest in theology and philosophy.

Clemens Gresser, the Heythrop Librarian, talked to the group about how the vast majority of books from the College days had been moved to one of two offsite stores, how the library has continued to develop the collection past the College’s closure, and about the diversity of people using the Library, from Jesuits and other Religious, to university and London Jesuit Centre students, as well as individuals with a serious interest in theology and philosophy.

Commenting, Clemens said:

"Most of these members of the Heythrop Association visited the Library for the first time since the Heythrop College closed in 2018. It was important to me to impress on them that the College’s library collection is not only preserved, but that the Heythrop Library’s collection continues to grow and is being developed further. There are two full-time librarians, and with the help of over 30 experts suggesting new titles to us, we add over 700 new books per year. Some of these books are in disciplines within theology or philosophy which former members of the College would have studied 10 or 15 years ago (such as the historic Jesus, metaphysics or theodicy, to name only a few); however, the library has a growing collection in black theology, post-colonial theology and womanist theology, and is picking up books on topics hitherto not studied, such as transhumanism. I felt that some of the people who visited the Library were noticeably and pleasantly surprised that the Heythrop Library continues to be a very important collection for books and journals in the fields of theology and philosophy – not only for the Jesuits of Britain, but also anyone in the UK with a serious interest in the disciplines covered by us."

There were many questions during the visit, showing how enthusiastic the former Heythrop College staff and students are about theology and philosophy. You can follow the Heythrop Library on Twitter here.

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