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Collection Development and Access Policy: Bishop Payne Library

The current collection development and access policy adopted by the Bishop Payne Library. This policy document is guided by our mission and serves to support acquisitions and ensure the accessibility of the collection.

Current Revision

Current text adopted by library staff March 4, 2021; revised and adopted by Library Committee March 23, 2021; adopted by the VTS faculty April 20, 2021.


Bishop Payne Library’s purpose is to instruct and empower seminary patrons to utilize a curated print and digital research collection, to offer an inviting environment for scholarship, and to conserve the seminary’s archival record. Reflecting its motto, “Seek the Truth,” Bishop Payne Library enhances the curricular mission of the seminary by inspiring student/faculty engagement with the church’s theological heritage and contemporary witness, from diverse perspectives.

History & Context

The seminary’s library dates from the seminary’s founding in 1823. Francis Scott Key Hall (now Bicentennial Hall) was built as the first separate library building in 1855 for a collection of 7,000 volumes. The Bishop Payne Library building was built in 1957 to hold 100,000 volumes, doubled in size in 1980, and completely renovated in 2020-2021. In 1973 the library was named to honor the Bishop Payne Divinity School, the separate Episcopal seminary for African Americans during segregation that merged into VTS in 1953.

The library’s primary patrons are the students, faculty, staff, and trustees of Virginia Seminary.