Librarian Highlight: Anthony J. Elia

Name: Anthony J. Elia

Title: Public Services Librarian

Subject Specialities: Bible; Historical Theology; Church History; Theological Education, Technology, & Pedagogy; History & Sociology of Reading & the Book

Contact info:, (212) 851-5608, (sorry, no Twitter)

Library: The Burke Library (inside Union Theological Seminary)

@ Columbia since: September 2010

Education info: A.B. St. Lawrence University (Religion); M.A. Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Religion—Bible focus); A.M. University of Chicago (History of Christianity); M.S.L.I.S. University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign (Library Science); Non-Degree work: Study Abroad in Kenya; Gregorian University (Rome); Charles University (Prague)

About me: As a kid I wanted to be either a train engineer or the Pope.  But I was both color blind and not Catholic, so somehow that disqualified me from both.

Later on I dabbled in music and wrote an opera called Silas (1995) about New York Governor Silas Wright and U.S. politics in the 1840s.  Sorry, no Spitzer-drama here—the most exciting part of the piece was an aria with Martin Van Buren and a recitative about a heart attack!  After that, I stuck to religion and travel; I lived abroad, sipped Sprite with an Armenian Patriarch, climbed Mt. Fuji, pressed my luck with Serbian border guards averse to Croatian cheeses, and studied with the Pope’s Latinist (as close to my childhood dream as I’d ever get).  These days I occasionally blog (“On Books and Biblios") and am involved in building a theological library in Guyana.

What’s new at my library: I was new 5 months ago!  But newest is our colleague, Matthew Baker, our new Collection Services Librarian at Burke.  We’ve also re-started a program of exhibits featuring our rare and special collections.  Our first exhibit this year features 19th century hymnals published by NY composers associated with Union Seminary.  We’re organizing a community hymn concert at Burke in April to highlight the collection.

Personal favorite: (Is this where I put my kids’ photos?)

Recommended resources: My colleagues both at Burke and the whole Columbia system, NYPL, Librarians in general.  People ARE resources!  If you have questions, ASK!  You can’t have a conversation with a database!  Well, at least I can’t.