Seminary Library Receives Remarkable Donation from Alumnus Fr. John Leonard

6 October 2011 • By Theodore C. Bazil, Associate Chancellor for Advancement

Our librarian, Eleana Silk, with part of the new collection. (Photo: Dn. Evan Freeman)Our librarian, Eleana Silk, with part of the new collection. (Photo: Dn. Evan Freeman)The Father Georges Florovsky Library of St. Vladimir’s Seminary has been recently immensely enriched by a donation of books from alumnus Fr. John Leonard (M.Div. ‘72, M.Th. ‘73). The library, now holding over 145,000 volumes and receiving over 350 periodicals each year, is considered one the richest resources available in the North American continent for research in Eastern Christianity.

Eleana Silk, librarian at St. Vladimir’s, noted the exceptional value of the collection, saying, "We have been anticipating receiving this donation for many years now. One of the greatest values of the collection is that Fr. John collected materials from a different geographic perspective during his many years in the Holy Land. His donation will bring many books from Europe and the Middle East that are not normally found in a North American library."

Theodore C. Bazil, associate chancellor for Advancement, in his letter of acknowledgement to Fr. Leonard, wrote:

I want to express profound thanks to you for your recent and most wonderful gift of approximately 3,000 volumes of your personal library to St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary. I know your nurtured collection represents over 50 years of carefully collected books that span a broad range of subjects. Your books are purposely eclectic and attest to your lifelong interest and reading in Eastern and Western theology, Christian art, literature, and biblical studies, as well as many other subjects. Over 900 titles alone comprise the Christian art and architecture section.

Your early life in the United States Foreign Service and later service as chaplain to the community of nuns in Nazareth for twenty-three years allowed you to add a rich component of books to our library on Islamic, Jewish, and biblical archeological studies. The collection attests to your mastery of languages. How many libraries can boast that they actually have a book in the Samaritan language?

Your donation is an extremely important resource that will benefit this generation and future generations of students, readers, and researchers. It brings great intellectual value to our library and buttresses the remarks of Dr. James Billington, Librarian of Congress, when speaking about our seminary library:  “[I] consider its contents to be perhaps the finest collection of eastern Christian literature in the western hemisphere (second only to the Library of Congress, of course). It is a resource which should be made available not only to Orthodox scholars but also to the general academic community.”

We are deeply grateful for this precious gift.

Browse our library collection here.