Librarian seeks to make stacks a tool for kingdom of God

Communications Staff — April 3, 2003

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP) – The James P. Boyce Centennial Library can be a powerful tool to impact the world for the Kingdom of God, according to Bruce Keisling, librarian at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Keisling, who was named Seminary Librarian in August 2002, says that his ministry is to provide resources to members of the Southern Seminary community so that their ministries “are marked by dedicated study for the glory of God and the advancement of His Kingdom.”

But it was not until 1993 that Keisling began to see his administrative and organizational gifts as tools for ministry, opting for a career in librarianship.

“By 1993 I realized that I needed to sort out my career goals, and decided to pursue a vocation of librarianship that would unite administrative and organizational gifts with a general love for learning,” said Keisling.

This realization led him to pursue a Master of Science degree in Library Science (M.S.L.S) at The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. While at Catholic University, Keisling began working at the library of Virginia Theological Seminary—a job that further helped him to view library science as a ministry.

“By the time I completed my M.S.L.S., I felt complete affirmation in my career choice and that God was using me in meaningful ways to further His Kingdom at work through involvement in my local church,” he said.

During those years in Washington, Keisling experienced a period that he labels “a spiritual restoration.” Though he had committed his life to Christ at age 12, Keisling admits that his early adulthood was spiritually unhealthy. Yet through the ministry of Capitol Hill Baptist Church, the Lord renewed his spiritual condition.

In 1998, Keisling left his post at Virginia Theological Seminary to become Associate Librarian at Southern Seminary, having been introduced to Southern by his pastor and seminary trustee Mark Dever.

Ever since his arrival at Southern, Keisling has led the library in a vibrant ministry of theological research, a ministry he describes as providing collections and services that prepare ministers for service to the local church.

“The library’s rich heritage and our ongoing work of stewarding library resources help to prepare ministers of the gospel for more faithful service by offering materials that encourage the pursuit of truth and wisdom,” said Keisling.

“Essentially what we are trying to say here is that we see collections and services as the two most important things we provide to the seminary community. We want to acquire all of the relevant material and to provide all the necessary services to support the institution’s mission of training, educating, and preparing ministers of the gospel for more faithful service in the Kingdom.”

After four years of service at Southern, Keisling was named Seminary Librarian in 2002, replacing Ronald Deering, who retired after serving in the position for 40 years.

Since assuming that post, Keisling says he feels an overwhelming sense of responsibility to uphold the seminary’s rich academic heritage—having been particularly influenced through reading about James P. Boyce.

“I have come to have an overwhelming sense of having become a caretaker of Dr. Boyce’s personal library, his vision for the seminary library, and for the endowment his family donated that funds current library acquisitions,” Keisling said.

He additionally cites the works of Richard Baxter, Jonathan Edwards, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer as influential in his ministry.

Keisling hails from Franklindale, Pa., where his father pastored the Franklindale Christian Church. He attended college at Cedarville University in Cedarville, OH.

Keisling and his wife Jennifer are currently members of Third Avenue Baptist Church in Louisville. They have two children, Jacob (3) and Elizabeth (15 months).

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