Readers and researchers get ready

Pages are turning in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle to make available one of the state’s largest religious library collections outside of Sydney.

The library will bring together the extensive resources of the Catholic Schools Office Religious Education and Spirituality Services, various diocesan collections, the Dilley Library at Lochinvar and the former Newcastle Christian Library collection.

If the storyline stays true, the resources could be available to diocesan staff, library members and the community at large as early as next month. 

The extensive collection has evolved over the past 25 years. The CSO Religious Education and Spirituality resources were originally shelved at the premises in Church Street for the use of teachers and students. When the CSO moved to its current site in Hamilton, so did this collection. 

In 2010, Bishop Michael Malone and the trustees of the Kennedy Trust reached an agreement that a collaborative collection comprising the CSO resources and the Newcastle Christian Library resources accumulated by Father Kennedy, would be housed at the St Laurence O’Toole Centre, in Broadmeadow.

This agreement allowed the Trust to sell the Hamilton site, on which the Newcastle Christian Library was located, and allocate proceeds from the interest to enable purchases of new Christian resources available to all; while the CSO provided use of the building and funded library staff and resources.

The St Laurence Resource Centre closed in October 2017, and was reopened in 2019 as the St Laurence Centre Flexible Learning Centre — a place where young people have an opportunity to re-engage with learning and community by being empowered to determine their own pathways.

Since early February, a team from the Formation and Education arm of Pastoral Ministries in the Diocese have been working to establish a Stack to house the substantial collection and make it available to the public online from July, via the library website.

In an exciting development, it will incorporate the Sisters of St Joseph’s Dilley Library collection, which has developed to support their work, as well the collection from the former Tenison Woods Education Centre.  

Resources will be available for collection at the Diocesan Offices in Newcastle, from the Dilley Library in Lochinvar or by arrangement.

In addition to the physical book collection, electronic resources including eBooks, a Religion and Philosophy database and subscriptions including La Croix and The Tablet will provide digital resources to all library members.

Expressions of Interest are now open to interested people to join the Library Resources Advisory Group. More details are available on the Adult Faith Formation page of the Diocesan Website.

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