New Pitts Director Talks Libraries in Digital Age

The newly appointed director of Pitts Theology Library, Richard Manly “Bo” Adams Jr. (05T, 12G), plans to make the library more accessible to other universities and people outside Emory by digitizing the library’s collections.

Adams replaces former Director M. Patrick Graham, who retired in August after serving as director of the Pitts Theology Library since 1994. Adams had served as interim director since September.

“We cannot simply think we have all these neat things,” Adams said. “We’re all trying to figure out what changes in the digital age mean for a library that’s print heavy and has a big building. … We’re thinking more strategically about not just what we digitize but what we do with digital material.”

The director’s responsibilities include overseeing exhibitions, managing the preservation of books and supervising the professional development of the staff.

The Candler School of Theology held a “very competitive” national search for the position, Dean of Candler School of Theology Jan Love wrote in a Nov. 13 email to the Wheel.

“In the context of inviting four excellent, fascinating candidates to campus, we were delighted and heartened to learn that the best of these was already our employee,” Love wrote. “Dr. Adams richly deserves this promotion.”

Adams served as the head of public services of Pitts Library from 2015 to 2017 and a systems and reference librarian from 2013 to 2015. He was an instructional technologist for Candler School of Theology from 2011 to 2013.

“What I like most about my job is the continual context switching in the various things that I do,” Adams said. “I don’t do one thing for long periods of time. It’s a lot of little things … so for my personality, as someone who likes to be distracted, it’s a really nice fit.”

Adams said he hopes to increase the number of visitors who view the library’s rare books collection. Pitts Theology Library has more than 620,000 volumes and adds more than 7,000 new volumes to its collection annually, according to its website. Adams also spoke about an upcoming exhibit on the materials of John Wesley, the founder of Methodism.

“There will be a new three-months focus on our Wesley materials [starting in December],” Adams said.

Adams received a bachelor’s degree in computer science at Dartmouth College (N.H.), according to the American Theological Library Association. He received a master’s and doctorate in theology from the Candler School of Theology and a library science degree at the University of Alabama.

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