Graduate dissertations and theses now available online

Graduate dissertations and theses now available online

Library NEWS

The Grogan Library aims to be a key specialist theological resource here in Scotland, but also serving the world. We have now added to our online offer, providing full-text access to dissertations and theses written by graduates of all the former colleges of SSCM.

This includes BA(Hons), MA, PhD, and Cambridge Diploma theses and dissertations produced by graduates of International Christian College, Glasgow Bible College, the Bible Training Institute, Northumbria Bible College, and Lebanon Missionary Bible College, going back as far as the 1970s. This excellent resource provides access to in-depth research in all aspects of theology and Christianity, with a focus on mission and local studies.

Here are some sample dissertations that are already available to read online:

  • Towards a Christian Understanding of the Concept of Suffering
  • Drug Abuse in Glasgow: A Christian Response. Towards an understanding of Glasgow’s drug culture and the development of a strategy to reduce the number of drug-related deaths in the city
  • Fighting for God? Islamic Fundamentalism and Violence: Origins, Implications and Possible Faith-Based Responses
  • Faith Without Deeds is Dead: how might the evangelical church best display the compassion of God as it lives and works in its local community?
  • Understanding and Helping the Self-Harmer: how can the Christian best understand self-harm and effectively help the self-harmer?
  • Maintenance and Mission:  Enabling Declining and Ageing Congregations to Care for Themselves and be Mission-Focused

All these papers have been scanned in pdf format and are available to be read online. They can be found through the Grogan Library catalogue. Full access is restricted to members of the Grogan Library.

Over 170 dissertations and theses are already available for viewing online, and over 400 will eventually be uploaded and made available to members.

Find out more about the Grogan Library Readership Scheme.

A Manifesto for Libraries

A Manifesto for Libraries


Recent publication of BBC shows dramatic decrease in the number libraries and librarians across UK. The BBC has compiled data from 207 authorities responsible for running libraries through the Freedom of Information Act. The survey revealed that between 2010 and today number of council-run libraries dropped from 4290 to 3765. In some areas: Sefton in Merseyside; Brent in north London, Stoke-on-Trent and Sunderland, more than half the libraries have closed since 2010, either buildings, mobile or both. Next 111 are proposed to close in next year.

The number of paid staff has dropped by 25%: almost 8000 jobs have been cut, while the number of volunteers doubled. Glasgow area has not suffer severely from libraries closures, however jobs dropped mean dropped by 20%. Fife Council will replace librarians with library assistants. Falkirk Council agreed the removal of the centralised school library service and a 50% reduction of the number of school librarians. The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland described school libraries as “standing on the edge of a cliff”. Alan Gibbons said the public library service faced the “greatest crisis in its history.”

Are libraries worth saving? Libraries are an essential part of communities, as they not only raise the level of reading and literacy, but also offer free services in variety of areas:  work on digital inclusion, support health services, job seeking, mental health – the broad of services answers for all community needs. Closing libraries is taking away from communities’ free help, free support and free development opportunity and is a fine way to keep the poor powerless (Independent, 2016). Libraries are a safe places, welcoming everyone, without questions about background, race, nationality and believes. “They are the last democratic free space we have. You don’t have to have any money, it doesn’t matter where you come from, what age you are, what you believe in. None of that is asked or relevant. You can still walk into this space and use it like everybody else can,” says Philippa Cochrane, head of reader development at the Scottish Book Trust.

To save libraries, while many of institutions struggle today both with risk of closing as well with deep budget cuts, which impacts on opening hours, qualified staff, offered services and collection development, the advocacy is necessary to widen the awareness about significance of library services.  National and local campaigns working forward to give an access to quality knowledge, learning and reading for all public members today and in the future. CILIPS launched campaign ‘Scotland’s Libraries: Inspiration for the Nation’, aims to emphasize Scotland’s libraries role in improving wellbeing and health of society and preserving the culture of the nation. One of campaign’s activities is A Manifesto for Libraries, targeted to candidates standing for election to ensure support for development of libraries in next Parliament. Keep Fife’s Libraries Open is a petition against closure of 16 libraries by Fife Council. My Library by Right is campaign showing access to library aim to promote the importance of the library as a statutory human right.

One of Manifesto question asks election candidates: When did you last visit your local library? and this is the question for ourselves as well before we will need to ask: What will I do to save my local library?


More information about campaigns can be found on websites:



BBC (2016) Libraries lose a quarter of staff as hundreds close, Available:, [Last Access: 1st of April 2016].

CILIP (2016) My Library by Right, Available:, [Last Access: 1st of April 2016].

CILIPS (2016a) Local authority proposals and consultations on changes to library services, Available:, [Last Access: 1st of April 2016].

CILIPS (2016b) Scotland’s Libraries: Inspiration for the Nation, Available:, [Last Access: 1st of April 2016].

CILIPS (2016c) A manifesto for Libraries, Available:, [Last Access: 1st of April 2016].

Fife (2016) Keep Fife’s Libraries Open, Available:, [Last Access: 1st of April 2016].

Independent (2016) Closing libraries is a fine way to keep the poor powerless, Available:, [Last Access: 1st of April 2016].

Scotsman (2016) Dani Garavelli: Why libraries are worth saving, Available:, [Last Access: 1st of April 2016].

The relaunch of the Grogan Library

The relaunch of the Grogan Library

Library NEWS

The Grogan Library is unique across Scotland amongst those involved in theological training and education. The library ensures that students of the all courses offered by the Scottish School of Christian Mission will have comprehensive and adequate resources and support during their study years.

But what makes theological libraries different? The potential and meaning is found in the content of resources and its impact on readers. Christian and theological books are important for students of the institution and for the lifelong development of faith and belief. Theological libraries play an important role in church communities, offering help and making an impact on Christians.

Theological libraries are dealing with similar challenges to those faced by public and school libraries. Firstly, the development of technology is forcing institutions to change their resources, into those that are more accessible online. They respond on modern trends of the current information world, leaving behind the idea of being a ‘repository’ and looking forward to ensure the accessibility and accuracy of the collection and services offered. Secondly, libraries follow into their institutions’ problems, which in theological and Christian colleges are limited budgets, a decreasing number of students and funding difficulties, leading to the need to be more focussed and specialised. Moreover, continual changes in the higher education sector impact on collection development, and leave librarians with questions about breadth and adequacy of subjects in their resources.

Nancy K. Maxwell in her book Sacred Stacks: The Higher Purpose of Libraries and Librarianship (ALA, 2006) suggests a special mission for libraries in the modern world as places with a “higher purpose” and suggests that there are similarities between libraries and religious institutions, and between librarians and ministers. The theological libraries of the world therefore have a double responsibility to serve their members, their communities and the wider world.

The collection in the Grogan Library is currently being refined and developed, both for the new students who will start their studies at SSCM in September, and for the relaunch of our external readers scheme during the summer.

Find out more about The Grogan Library.

Sylwia Grabowska-Szumska

Job vacancy – Librarian

Job vacancy – Librarian

Library NEWS

The Scottish School of Christian Mission is a new and exciting phase in its development, and seeks to appoint a part-time Librarian to lead the development of the Grogan Library to support and enhance the development of the college in its new focus and identity.

Deadline for receipt of applications: 9am, Tuesday 1st December 2015. Applications for this post are now closed.

The future of the Grogan Library

The future of the Grogan Library


Colin Wilson, SSCM Librarian

Let me begin on a tangent, giving yet another affirmation of the importance of libraries. In April, The New York Times published an editorial asking this question – guess where people spend at least some of their time in the city (of New York). For instance, what attractions draw the most visitors?

  • Major Museums, like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, American Museum of Natural History, Brooklyn Museum or Museum of the City of New York.
  • Libraries, including the neighbourhood branches and research centers.
  • Performing arts, like those at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, City Center and Snug Harbor.
  • Sports teams like the Yankees, Mets, Knicks, Nets, Rangers, Jets and Giants.
  • Natural-world attractions: the botanical gardens, Wave Hill, the zoos and aquariums.

The Yankees listed attendance as 3.4 million; the Mets, 2.14 million. At Madison Square Garden and the Barclays Center, the two basketball teams and the Rangers hockey team brought in 2.2 million. The two professional football teams in northern New Jersey drew 1.3 million. How about attendance at museums, live performances and zoos? The Mayor’s Office reported that 21 million New Yorkers and other visitors attended the 33 city-owned museums, performing arts centers, botanical gardens, zoos and historical sites.

But wait.

The city’s libraries had 37 million visitors in the last financial year.

So the city’s libraries have more users than major professional sports, performing arts, museums, gardens and zoos combined. No one who has set foot in a library – crowded at all hours with adults learning languages, using computers, borrowing books, hunting for jobs, or schoolchildren researching projects or discovering stories, or with older people or the homeless simply trying to keep warm – can mistake them for anything other than a social good, distributed without regard to wealth, creating human capital before the term was trendy. The problem in the UK is that they are not crowded at all hours. Perhaps a culture and funding change should be on the cards in the UK?

My blog posts are beginning to reveal the fact that I, am at heart, a public librarian. It is the belief in the value of public libraries that underpins my ambitions and aspirations for the future direction of the Grogan Library.

So, here’s what will be happening over the next year:

  • A review of the entire collection will be carried out, ensuring that it fits the ethos and future direction of the Scottish School of Christian Mission. Yes, the collection will be a bit smaller as a result, but its depth and breadth will remain.
  • We will look to find suitable and strategic ways of using the books that are withdrawn from the collection. SSCM staff are involved in assisting the development of theological colleges and libraries in Non-Western countries, and it is likely that some of our books will go to them.
  • The dissertation collection which covers work submitted to Lebanon Missionary Bible College, Northumbria Bible College, Bible Training Institute, Glasgow Bible College and International Christian College will be digitised and, where appropriate, made available through the online library catalogue.
  • The archive collection which covers the same institutions will also be fully digitised and made available in the same way.

As always, any suggestions, opinions or support/criticism can be emailed to the College Librarian.

Do we need libraries any more?

Do we need libraries any more?


SSCM librarian Colin Wilson writes:

The building of private prisons is a huge growth industry in the United States. The industry needs to plan for future growth: how many cells are they going to need for the prisoners there are going to be fifteen years from now? They found that they could predict it very easily, using a pretty simple algorithm, based on asking what percentage of 10 and 11 year-olds couldn’t read or had never been in a Library.

In a week that has seen Birmingham City Council place a pause on funding acquisitions for its public Libraries it is important to reaffirm a few suggestions why Libraries are irreplaceable.

  1. Not everything is available on the internet: The amount of information on the web has engendered the false assumption that everything can be found online. Even if Google does successfully digitize the sum of human knowledge, it is already prohibited by law to make copyrighted books fully accessible.
  1. The internet isn’t free (or digital Libraries are not the internet): Digital Libraries include materials that have been published via rigorous editorial processes and usually contain analysis, rather than opinion. These research papers and journals are virtually inaccessible to someone seeking to pull them off the web for free. Users might use the internet to find these databases but deeper access to them requires registration. You are still online, but you are no longer on the internet. You are in a Library.
  1. Libraries are adapting to cultural change: Anyone subscribing to the theories of McLuhan might think that with changed life patterns brought on by electronic technology, knowledge that was once only in books is now being liberally disseminated, rendering obsolete the austerity of Libraries. But this cultural change pre-dates use of the internet. Society has always been seeking a deeper understanding of the world, and increased access to information. The search for new methods of organizing educational structures has long been active and there is a growing movement to maximise the social and interactive nature of physical Library space. Group study, art exhibits, food and coffee, talking not whispering…
  1. Libraries are creating cultural change: The Library that most are familiar with today is at the forefront of the democratization of knowledge. Where else can people access information regardless of technology, format, or methods of delivery that is readily, equally, and equitably accessible to all Library users? Libraries have broad social responsibilities and provide free and equal access to information for all people in the community the Library serves.
  1. Wisdom of Crowds is untrustworthy: The high visibility of certain viewpoints, analysis and facts found online through social networking sites is engineered to be the result of objective group consensus. Google’s algorithm hinges on this collective principle: rather than an expert deciding what resource is the most authoritative; let the web decide. In a vacuum, crowds probably are very wise. But all too often we see the caveat to Surowiecki’s crowd wisdom in Gladwell’s Tipping Point, which, in this context, explains that groups are easily influenced by their vanguard, even if what they are doing is not necessarily the best idea. The highly social nature of the internet makes it highly susceptible to sensationalized, low-quality information with the sole merit of popularity. Libraries provide quality control. Only information that is carefully vetted, but never censored, is allowed in and provides a counterpoint to the fragile populism of the web.
  1. Libraries improve student results: At the recent graduation, students received special prizes for their achievements. All were in the top five Library users in terms of items issued and the breadth of subjects read during the academic year.
Library Science

Library Science


Welcome to Library Science. The first rule of Library Science is: you do not talk about Library Science…


This post will seek to answer the most common question put to me since the launch of SSCM: What does it mean for the Grogan Library?


Before answering, it may be useful to provide some insight into the decision making process that a Librarian goes through and this involves doing the equivalent of exposing how to pull of the prestige in a magic trick. Hopefully without destroying any of the mythical aspects surrounding Librarianship, I can disclose that there are ‘Five Laws of Library Science’. Proposed by Dr. Shiyali Ramamrita Ranganathan in 1931, Librarians generally accept these ‘laws’ as the foundations of their philosophy.


These laws are:

  1. Books are for use.

Without the use of materials, there is little value in the items; books in libraries are not meant to be shut away from its users.

  1. Every reader his/her book.

All individuals from all social environments are entitled to library service; the basis of library use is education, to which all are entitled.

  1. Every book its reader.

Each item in a library has an individual or individuals who would find that item useful; books have a place in the library even if a smaller demographic might choose to read it.

  1. Save the time of the reader.

All library users should be able to easily locate the material they desire quickly and efficiently.

  1. The library is a growing organism.

A library should be a continually changing institution, never static in its outlook; books, methods, and the physical library should be updated over time.


In my first blog post, I wrote about the need for libraries to modernise. Here, I have outlined the philosophy that is used when making decisions in libraries. And now to the question of ‘What does it mean for the Grogan Library?’


The coming year will see changes. No decision has been made in terms of what the collection will look like in x years but there are obviously restrictions that will inform the review that will take place over the coming year. As a Librarian it is a challenge attempting to balance a belief in the Five Laws and radical modernisation with spatial restrictions and a changing focus of the institution the collection primarily serves. Throughout the upcoming collection review I will be referring to a modern interpretation of Law 1: ‘I will build collections not for vanity but for use’.


As always, any suggestions, opinions or support/criticism can be emailed to the College Librarian.


Colin Wilson


Scottish School of Christian Mission

The (contemporary) theological library

The (contemporary) theological library


The changing nature of how education is delivered has been creating a set of new and complex challenges for those delivering library services and managing library spaces.

The libraries of the 21st century can no longer be familiar repositories for books. They should be changed and expanded, be rethought and redesigned. Libraries should now provide an increasing range of different services, using a multitude of media, and attempt to reach as wide an audience as possible.

Social trends underwrite the need to review what a library should be in terms of physical space and the historic library atmosphere of hushed silence is no longer appropriate in a culture of dynamic learning and social interaction. A library should be a neutral place that plays a distinct role in collective culture where different age, social and cultural groups with differing needs come into contact.

The Grogan Library aims to:
• Build and preserve a library collection with a breadth and depth of subjects, religious and theological perspectives.
• Raise awareness of responses to contemporary social issues from a faith perspective.
• Provide access to a specialised resource base on Christian theology and practice, particularly its role in local, national and international mission.
• Promote research, learning and education regarding Scotland’s Christian heritage.

Meeting these objectives will be done through the modernising of library service delivery and updates and proposals will be discussed in future blogs. It is important for libraries to encourage community collaboration when developing library services and managing related resources. Any suggestions, opinions or support/criticism can be emailed to the College Librarian.

Colin Wilson
College Librarian
Scottish School of Mission