Theological Seminary Studies: Books

Where to Find Books

Use CLIO (the online catalog) to search for books, articles, and other media...


NOTE: please see the Library Status Updates page to view currently-available services and resources such as Scanning, Pick-Up service, etc. during the ongoing COVID-19 period.

The Burke Library

image of a typical area of the stacks in the Burke Library Stacks in the Burke Library.

The Burke Library has five (5) levels of stacks* (floors S1-S5) with over 700,000 books! Enter the stacks through the red door on the main floor (L1) or via the elevator. The Burke Library stacks consist of three sections:

The "LC Stacks" (levels S4 and S5) books acquired from 1973 onward and catalogued under the Library of Congress (LC) classification system of call numbers.

The "Union Stacks" (level S3) books acquired before 1973 were catalogued under the Julia Pettee theological classification system of call numbers used at the Burke in the early-20th century.

Bound periodicals (levels S1 and S2) past issues of journals in theology and religion bound in book-like covers for ease of use. (Current issues** of subscription periodicals are available on level L2.)


* "Stacks" is a library term for areas containing shelves of books.

** More current academic journals, newspapers, and popular magazines can be found in the Periodicals Reading Room at Butler Library.

Featured Books in the Burke Library

New Books are shelved by call number in three bookshelves on L1 of the Burke Library. These are available to be checked out from the library.

Books by Faculty are shelved together on L1 near the entrance to the "green room" glass-walled study area. These can be read in the library but not checked out.

Reference Books such as encyclopedias, dictionaries, atlases, and Biblical commentaries are shelved in the Main Reading Room on L3 of the Burke Library. These can be used but cannot be taken out of the library.

Rare Books & Special Collections include the Burke Library's treasured manuscripts, incunabula, and scrolls, as well as unique contemporary books and archives. These items are housed separately and available by appointment only – schedule a visit at our Special Collections page.


Interlibrary Loan and Delivery Services

Not all books are available in this library system. We share with other schools and organizations through several delivery services (BorrowDirect, Interlibrary Loan, Scan & Deliver, ReCAP/Offsite/Shared Collections, etc.) If you cannot find a book or other type of media here, we can almost always get another copy delivered in a matter of days.

View the Interlibrary Loan/Delivery tab above to learn more.


Books at other Columbia University Library locations

There are 22 locations in the Columbia University Libraries system. This map shows every library, including the Burke Library and Butler Library (Columbia's largest and most central library), where students can read and study. Butler Library holds materials on the history of religions; the Burke Library has resources for biblical studies, theology, and the history of Christianity (including the extensive Missionary Research Library); Lehman Social Sciences Library and the C.V. Starr East Asian Library both contain materials on religions unique to the Global Studies locales each library serves.

How to Borrow Books

Books that circulate in the Columbia University Libraries are available to be checked out using your University ID card. Here's how borrowing works in the Columbia University Libraries:

  • Go to any library at Columbia
  • Look for books in the CLIO Catalog
  • Try to find the book in the Stacks
  • Books are shelved by "call number," a series of letters and numbers on the spine
  • Staff can help if a book cannot be found
  • Bring the books you want to the Circulation Desk.
  • Show and scan your University ID card.
  • Books can then be charged to your account.
  • Loan periods vary but can be a few weeks to a whole semester.
  • Books can be renewed online.
  • Check your Library Account to see due dates, renew books, and view your fines and fees.

How to Find Journals & Articles

There are several ways to find and discover articles in journals throughout the Columbia University Libraries:

  • See the Databases tab above to explore databases of journal articles in many subjects including theology
  • Go to CLIO Databases to find a journal database for any subject
  • Search for specific journal titles in CLIO
  • Use CLIO's Articles feature to locate a specific article by title