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IBR research library to locate adjacent to seminary campus

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–Officers of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and the Institute for Biblical Research have signed a lease providing a home for the institute’s residential reference research library.

The seminary and the institute had signed a lease in 1994 which made available property for the IBR to build a facility, but the signing of the amended 30-year lease Nov. 19 grants the IBR an existing freestanding building at the northeast corner of Southwestern’s campus for $1 per year.

Renovations on the facility are scheduled for completion within 18 months, said Joe Breshears, executive director of development and general counsel for the seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.

The new IBR facility will consist of three first-floor reading rooms, study carrels and a chapel and lounge where scholars can host discussion groups. The second floor of the facility will serve as guest accommodations and as an apartment for the research library manager.

An anonymous donation of 6,800 volumes to the research library has provided the institute with numerous out-of-print volumes and rare books, said E. Earle Ellis, currently research professor of theology emeritus and scholar in residence at Southwestern. The volumes, collected by the donor over the past 40 to 50 years, will serve as the base of the library.

“It is a blessing to Southwestern to have a research center located adjacent to our campus, and it is a blessing to the IBR because as we build our own collection we will also have access to Southwestern’s Roberts Library,” added Ellis, who founded the IBR in 1970 and also is chairman of the IBR’s library trustees.

“The great advantage is that we are now within a three-minute walk from the seminary’s Roberts Library,” he said. “And because we have a major airport hub nearby, we are a three-and-a-half-hour commute by air from anywhere in the country.”

The establishment of the research library has been Ellis’ dream for more than a decade. The author of numerous biblical theology texts, Ellis studied in England at Cambridge University, home of Tyndale House, a biblical research library with manuscript resources and guest accommodations.

He conceived the idea of establishing a North American “Tyndale House” near Southwestern’s campus almost 10 years ago.

Southwestern President Kenneth Hemphill said the availability of the IBR research library and the abundant holdings of the seminary’s Roberts Library “will make Southwestern Seminary an attractive destination for leading theologians to do research and writing.”

The 100,000-square-foot Roberts Library is the fifth-largest theological library in the country, containing more than 300,000 volumes.

Hemphill also said the seminary’s new Leadership Development Complex will provide excellent accommodations for visiting scholars.

Craig Blaising, executive vice president and provost at Southwestern, said the seminary has had a good relationship with the IBR and looks forward to having the institute’s library on the campus.

“We are really pleased to see this coming to fruition with the agreement that has been formulated between the IBR and Southwestern. … We hope that biblical scholars with the IBR will avail themselves of the hospitality of Southwestern Seminary and Fort Worth to research biblical texts here.”

Ellis and others have raised $1.1 million for the endowment, furnishing and renovation of the leased facility and are hopeful of raising further funds to expand the library’s holdings.
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: LEASE SIGNED.

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  • Gregory Tomlin