Flora Lamson Hewlett Library

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Flora Lamson Hewlett Library

1987–2022: A Global Leader for 35 Years, Transforming to Meet the Future


Flora Lamson Hewlett Library

Celebrating 35 Years of Leadership in Theological Library Services, Transforming to Serve a Global Audience 35 years ago, a landmark event took place in Berkeley. After decades of planning, collaboration, and construction, the Flora Lamson Hewlett Library dedication ceremony celebrated the completion of a centralized library that would serve the entire Graduate Theological Union consortium. Acknowledging with gratitude a substantial contribution from the Hewlett Foundation, the GTU Common Library was named the Flora Lamson Hewlett Library in May 1987. Flora Lamson Hewlett (1914–1977) devoted much of her time and energies to public service. A proud alum of the University of California, Berkeley, and an involved member of Stanford University’s Board of Trustees, Flora strove for education access for students who would have otherwise missed the opportunity she so treasured. An engaged member of her own religious tradition, Flora was an elder of the First Presbyterian Church in Palo Alto, and she served as a Trustee

of the San Francisco Theological Seminary. Flora brought to all her work a discerning intelligence, an openness to new ideas, a quiet tenacity of purpose, and a disciplined desire to learn. Named in her honor, the GTU Library remains a testament to some of Flora’s core values: education, religion, and matters of the mind and the spirit .

Flora Lamson Hewlett


A History of Innovation “ I see the library as a place where the librarian can layout the books, open especially to selected pages to seduce the reader. There should be a place with great tables on which the librarian can put the books, and the reader should be able to take the book and go to the light.” —Louis I. Kahn, Architect

1963: GTU Dean John Dillenberger appoints a GTU Library Committee.

1964: GTU Bibliographical Center established to assemble a reference collection and establish procedures for book selection, ordering, and cataloging.

1972: Renowned architect Louis I. Kahn was chosen to design a central library and administration building for the GTU.

“The GTU collection is diverse, rich, and broad, comprising a great ‘invisible faculty’ who speak regardless of the passage of time . . . It is possible to put a remarkable array of ideas in the light from among the pages of this collection.” — John D. Baker-Batsel, Flora Lamson Hewlett Library Director (1977 to 1990) March 23, 1981

1981: Construction of the basement and Level I completed.

“We are fortunate to have in Berkeley one of Louis Kahn’s last projects, the Graduate Theological Union Common Library . . . When its final phase is completed, the Common Library will show very well the range of Kahn’s concerns as an architect—the building’s relation and contributions to its site, its use of daylight as an integral aesthetic and functional element in the interior, and its formal character as architecture . . . we are fortunate to have this wonderful example in our own midst.” —R ichard Bender Dean, College of Environmental Design UC Berkeley December 12, 1984

1986: The Hewlett Library Acquisitions began automated ordering.

September 19, 1985 “We give thanks this day, O Lord, for the dedicated people who started the schools we represent as we meet together. We are grateful for their sacrifices. We give thanks that a new spirit of cooperation has made possible this new vision of a Graduate Theological Union . . . we are grateful, Lord. Without the generous gifts of some individuals and groups this Library would not be possible. Grant to these kind people your blessing, O Lord.”

An early sketch of the Graduate Theological Union library and administrative offices by Louis I. Kahn, who was selected as the original architect and provided the vision for the project.

— Student Leaders of the Nine GTU Member Schools, “Pause for Prayer as We Pour the Pillars” to complete the Graduate Theological Library

The original plan for the GTU Library from the 1970s. Ridge Road at the intersection with Le Conte and Scenic Ave was to be closed for foot traffic.

1987: Construction of Levels II and III complete, including the library and GTU Administration Offices.

1992: The online catalog, named GRACE (GTU Reference Access Catalog Experience), was opened in 1992.

1993: Hewlett Library’s circulation functions went online, completing library automation.

May 1987: The GTU Common Library was named the Flora Lamson Hewlett Library.

“ I earnestly believe that, despite her passion for anonymity and her modesty, she would be pleased by this moment. And, perhaps, even more, she would be pleased at our pleasure—the joining of a most important facility, dedicated to the matters of the mind and the spirit, with the name of a woman whose life was similarly dedicated and whose devotion to these matters continues to enrich our lives.”

2000–2001: The Hewlett Library underwent significant renovations to accommodate a growing collection and technological innovations.

2006–2017: Additional technological and storage expansions were made to The Hewlett Library, including an expanded online database, wireless internet access, multiple points of access to digitized material from Special Collections, and off-site storage for physical collections.

— Roger W. Heyns President, Hewlett Foundation Dedication of the Flora Lamson Hewlett Library, Graduate Theological Union May 6, 1987


Transforming to Support GTU 2.0 The Flora Lamson Hewlett Library is the heart of the Graduate Theological Union—symbolically, intellectually, and physically. The building and its services are central to preparing GTU students to create transformative impact felt around the world. In our commitment to offering students the cutting-edge resources they need to respond to the needs of today and tomorrow, the Hewlett Library building is undergoing significant alterations. The Hewlett Library will maintain its connection to traditional modes of reading and knowledge transmission, while boldly expanding into digital scholarship in theology and religion. The Flora Lamson Hewlett Library alterations will include: ransforming digital collections: improving ■T access to resources to support online education. As digital collections are expanded, print resources are not being replaced. ransforming infrastructure: to support hybrid ■T services. The Hewlett Library will maintain traditional library services, while advancing cutting-edge resources, technologies, and services. ransforming campus footprint: the Hewlett ■T Library alterations will bring the GTU community together under one roof, increasing unity and collaborative opportunities.


A Legacy of Transformative Impact

From its inception, the GTU’s Library has been driven by its commitment to equipping innovative scholars for groundbreaking interreligious and interdisciplinary study. Thanks to the generous contributions of Flora Lamson Hewlett and others, the Hewlett Library has been home to some of the world’s pre-eminent interreligious scholarship, dialogue, and leadership for the past 35 years. This work has produced transformative impact felt around the world. Without this robust resource, the future of interreligious and interdisciplinary learning and dialogue would be profoundly hindered, when it is most needed.

Become Involved

With your commitment, this work will not only continue, but it will develop into new areas of growth, as the Hewlett Library alterations equip the GTU to enter into GTU 2.0 with cutting-edge technology, services, and programs for all its community members and guests. Invest today to help secure the future of interreligious and interdisciplinary study, dialogue, and collaboration, equipping the next generation of scholars, leaders, and innovators. Learn more about how you can make an investment to help the Library realize the vision of GTU 2.0 by contacting us at advancement@gtu.edu. We can work with you to explore the most impactful opportunities for your support.

Graduate Theological Union 2400 Ridge Road Berkeley, CA 94709

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