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Erected in 1882 as part of Whinham College, the current building was dedicated as the Löhe Memorial Library on 2 October 1960 and named in memory of Johannes Paul Löhe, former principal of Immanuel Theological Seminary. Amalgamation with Concordia Seminary in 1967 led to Löhe Memorial Library becoming the library of the newly formed Luther Seminary.

The development of the library owes much to a group of dedicated people associated with the seminary, none more than the first full-time professional Librarian, installed in February 1980, Rev Trevor Zweck.

When Lutheran Teachers College moved onto Luther Campus at the beginning of 1990, its collection was also moved into the Löhe Memorial Library. At the beginning of 1998 Luther Campus reverted to being called Luther Seminary. The Seminary was renamed Australian Lutheran College (ALC) at the beginning of 2004. The collections of the library now number over 100,000 items.

From 2010, ALC’s association with the University of Divinity (formerly the Melbourne College of Divinity) opened up new possibilities of cooperation with the libraries of other colleges of the University of Divinity.

In 2010, ALC’s Library celebrated fifty years in the service of theological education for the Lutheran Church of Australia. Continue reading below for a more detailed history of the development between 1960 and 2010.


Fifty years ago the campus of the then Immanuel Seminary was alive with movement, as students transported books from the first floor of the seminary building, trundling them in wheelbarrow and trailer to a hall at the other end of the campus, known as Angas Hall, which was to become the home of the new Löhe Memorial Library.

Löhe Memorial Library in the 1960's

Löhe Memorial Library in the 1960's

A service of dedication was held on 2 October 1960, to herald the establishment of ‘one of the most commodious theological student libraries yet used in this State’.1

The sense of drama that marked this occasion was not misplaced. Through the vision and enterprise of those who nurtured it in the ensuing fifty years, Löhe Memorial Library was to develop into a first rate theological library, prominent amongst its peers in Australia.

The story of the library is in many senses also the history of theological libraries in Australia. From ‘a pile of books’ was to rise a modern professional library which has claimed its place in the ‘distributed national collection’ and offers a sophisticated focus on information literacy, with online and multimedia resources and wireless access to the internet.

In 1956 it was recommended to the Synod of the United Evangelical Lutheran Church in Australia (UELCA) that the hall which had been a gymnasium and lecture hall for the seminary be converted into a library.2

Originally built in 1882 by Thomas Frost for Whinham College, a prestigious private grammar school, it was designed in the Tudor style with rounded windows and featured a matchboard ceiling and exposed roof ties of iron. The hall was renovated in 1959 to a design of Eric von Schramek, with a Georgian entry porch featuring square pillars, and ‘modern’ rectangular windows. Inside, the former stage, gallery and wooden floor were removed, adding ‘to the spaciousness of this large and lofty building. The light apricot wall and vinyl tiles of predominantly lighter shading contribute to the pleasing atmosphere. The steel shelving, claret in colour, is so installed as to permit of a mezzanine second floor’.3 The total cost of the renovations was approximately £8000.

Naming and dedication 

The new library was opened on October 2nd 1960 with a book stock of almost 10,000 volumes.4 It was named after Pastor Johannes P. Löhe, the first principal of the seminary at North Adelaide, grand-nephew of the famous Wilhelm Löhe (1808–1872) who had founded the Mission house in Neuendettelsau, Bavaria, which supplied so many Lutheran pastors to Australia in the nineteenth century.

Johannes Löhe, who came to Australia in 1889 as a twenty year old pastor, was one of these. In 1921 he was appointed President-General of the UELCA. From 1923 to 1944 he was the Principal of Immanuel Seminary.5

His own library, consisting of many theological tomes and the fruit of a lifetime of book collecting, formed a notable part of the new collection. The Löhe Collection includes, as expected, many volumes of theology and philosophy, more in English than in German. However, his breadth of interest is reflected in the large selection of English church biographies from the Victorian era.

Most interesting for this reader is the comprehensive collection of the works of Friedrich Max Müller, a leading scholar of the study of comparative religion in England in the nineteenth century, and one of the first translators of the Rig Veda into English. Müller and Löhe both bequeathed an English language legacy to their adopted English speaking countries!

Max Lohe, the President-General of the UELCA and son of J.P., did not, however, highlight his father’s books at the opening of the library. Instead, he spoke of the collection of Weimarer Ausgabe, the complete works of Martin Luther in German and Latin, which held pride of place in the new library. The first volume of this collection was published in 1883 for the four hundredth anniversary of Luther’s birth. One hundred and twenty seven years and as many volumes later, we are still receiving index volumes of the “Weimarana”. German publishers are nothing if not thorough!

The generosity of donors had bequeathed many valuable items to the library, including a beautiful 1550 printed German Bible (an early edition of the translation by Martin Luther), with Gothic script and hand painted engravings.

The early years 

Paul Lohe, a final year student at Immanuel Seminary and grandson of Johannes Löhe, became the first librarian on a voluntary basis. The job was barely begun when it was rudely interrupted on Reformation Day 1960, when students of a rival theological college deposited a huge pile of newspapers at the entrance to the library, presumably in memory of the 95 Theses.6

In the early years, the books could not be borrowed, but had to be used on site. Following a number of voluntary student librarians, Mrs Annie Hebart, the wife of the Principal, Dr S. P. Hebart, took over as cataloguer for 16 years (1965–1981) and was chiefly responsible for the establishment of a library from shelves and shelves of books.

When she began the books had been shelved roughly according to the various disciplines, but individual titles could not easily be located and card-indexes were non-existent. Working frequently through the evening, Mrs Hebart organised and catalogued the collection according to the Pettee System, an alpha-numeric classification developed by Julia Pettee at Union Theological Seminary in New York specifically for theological libraries. Dr Helga Zinnbauer, a retired librarian, assisted her from 1974 till her death in 1980.7 The library also had its own resident bookbinder, Mr A. Lopez, from1966–1997.

Expansion of the library 

In 1967, after the union of Lutheran synods into the Lutheran Church of Australia, the new Luther Seminary was born and the library was greatly extended. The architect wrote at its completion the following year:

The library extensions, built around a central courtyard…provide additional study places, a periodical room, cataloguing facilities and a work-room for book binding and book repairs. The ground and mezzanine floors provide additional book storage and through the large anti-glare glass windows, the peaceful little courtyard can be viewed…acoustic ceilings have been used to control the noise level which is so important for the quiet atmosphere of a library.8

The library was considerably augmented with most of the collection of the former Concordia Seminary Library, belonging to the former Evangelical Lutheran Church of Australia (ELCA). These books had been completely catalogued by Dr F.J.E. Blaess according to the Dewey system. They were incorporated into the library by Mrs Hebart and reclassified into Pettee. In 1973 Löhe was one of the few theological libraries selected to appear in the Union Catalogue of the National Library.9

Major extensions were again carried out in 1979, when another mezzanine floor was added within the main building, which doubled the shelf space available for books. Dr Vic Pfitzner took on the role of Associate Librarian between 1980–81 and spent many hours typing catalogue cards, especially for German books, and sorting through the many boxes of donations from retired and deceased pastors. He was responsible for setting up the Rare Books as a separate collection. His interest in the library was ongoing, though with less time for practical involvement, especially when he became Seminary Principal.

Professional staff 

Up to this point the story is similar to that of many other theological libraries which were maintained with dedication by amateur or voluntary staff. However, owing to a combination of circumstances, a decision was made to appoint a full-time professional librarian.

Pastor Trevor Zweck spent the year 1980 at the SA Institute of Technology studying for a Graduate Diploma in Librarianship. He graduated with distinction and took up his position as Librarian the following year. He was proactive: ‘The librarian’s express aim is that all students get to know, and are able to make full use of, the facilities supplied by the library.10

His first contribution was to set up a circulation system which enabled books to be borrowed from the collection of 35,000 volumes, using a card system. Trevor’s office was initially at the front desk, where he could supervise proceedings. Seminary students were rostered during the late afternoon and evening to staff the desk. Students are still employed as trained library assistants after hours.

Trevor Zweck was a stickler for professional standards. He became one of the world’s experts on the Pettee classification system, and helped to expand and refine the sections on Australia, New Guinea and New Zealand, which the American system had treated very concisely. Those who knew him say he could have written the Pettee manual, he knew it so well. He built up the collections, with special attention to international material from Asia and Melanesia. He was also a scholar, contributing articles and book reviews to this journal.11

From May to July, 1986, Trevor undertook a two month study tour of theological libraries in the USA. During this tour he visited thirty libraries in thirteen locations, from Fuller in Pasadena on the west coast, to Yale on the east coast.

He observed and assessed the libraries in terms of automation, cataloguing, acquisitions, co-operation and buildings. He stated that copy cataloguing by means of automated databases had considerable advantages over original cataloguing by manual methods. This was the method he then introduced to Löhe Library. He noted that it is ‘frequently evident that libraries have outgrown the most optimistic projections of their designers.’12

In 1990, Trevor returned for seven months to one of these libraries, Trinity Lutheran Seminary Library in Columbus, Ohio, exchanging positions with the librarian, Richard Mintel, who headed down under to Adelaide. Trevor stayed in a seminary apartment and enjoyed American hospitality in the form of summer courtyard potlucks with the students and their families. He was joined by his wife, Pam and their youngest daughter, Leah, for the last weeks of his stay.13

Further improvements 

At this time, the present periodicals room, an ATCO transportable shed, was placed within the larger shed which had once been the garage for the bakery on Archer Street. The ATCO sits on top of the pit which was used by the mechanics to work on trucks in the garage. For a long time, this was the only air-conditioned room in the library, and thus a popular place to study in the summer heat. It also accounts for the curious library layout, with a tacked on wing and a ‘room within a room’.

From the first Trevor set about assembling a trained staff of colleagues. Wendy Davis, a fellow student at SAIT, assisted from 1982–1984, along with Meredith Whitten and Jane Anthony, also SAIT graduates, who gained valuable work experience before commencing formal employment. Ruth Strelan was recruited in 1987 and Natalie Schwarz joined the staff in 1990, when the Lutheran Teachers College Library was amalgamated into this library. Chris Cooper joined on a voluntary basis and still processes library donations. Helen Schubert was appointed in 1992 to help transfer the card catalogue on to the computer database.

Trevor’s office became the workroom. In it there were two computers, one used by Trevor and the other shared between the three other staff. The room was lined with shelves of books and there were books stacked up on the tables, and sometimes on the floor as well. The task was to create order out of seeming chaos, tapping information into that one computer as fast as they could, and delivering the most wanted books back onto the shelves for easy access by students. Trevor was well in command of his computer and kept up a cracking pace through the day, fuelled by cups of very strong coffee.14

Having seen the need for an automated library system, Trevor argued and won the case for an expensive and sophisticated system with excellent searching capabilities (Dynix). He told the Seminary Board, ‘We have to convert a pile of books into a functioning library.’

He upgraded the cataloguing to professional Marc standards and employed two professional librarians, Lavinia Gent and Lyndall Simonsen, to handle the backlog of cataloguing when the new Dynix system was first used in the library in 1992. The library became a full member of the ABN (Australian Bibliographical Network, now Libraries Australia), contributing so many original cataloguing records that Trevor had to negotiate with ABN not to lose the credits the library accumulated.

On 8 September 1992, Löhe Memorial Library took a bold step into the new world of information technology. Before a small gathering of library staff, faculty and students, LOHIS (Löhe Memorial Library Information System) was switched on and the first book borrowed. This followed six months of planning, scrutinising almost every aspect of the library’s operations, envisaging new workflow patterns, detailing the most intricate specifications, and training staff to operate the new system.15

Legacy of Pastor Trevor Zweck 

Always the practical visionary, Trevor and several other theological librarians perceived the need for cooperation and the advantages of building an association of libraries in Australia and the Pacific. An ANZATS Library Consultation was held at Luther Seminary on 27 August 1985. The 22 librarians and 11 others present decided to establish the Australian and New Zealand Theological Library Association.

The inaugural conference was held at St. Mark’s Library in Canberra in August 1986. Trevor Zweck became the founding president of ANZTLA in 1985 till his death in 1996.16 He was a dedicated advocate for theological libraries, supporting and cajoling smaller institutions into a wider vision of what might be achieved, encouraging all members to add their holdings to the national database, and pushing for the development of standards in theological libraries.

When Trevor died, a fellow member of the library staff penned a moving tribute to him:

He strove for perfection, gently but purposefully—for himself, for his staff, for his library…His sense of humour was sharp but considered. Trevor enjoyed every joke that was ever told in the office, however suspect. Rolled his eyes with comic fervour when the intercom announced a ‘difficult customer’ on the phone …. Perhaps Trevor's greatest gift was his generosity—of his knowledge, of his time, of his sociability …. 17

A substantial tribute in the American Theological Library Association proceedings testified to the impact that Trevor had made on the wider theological library community.18

The ‘Bundy report’ 

Ruth Strelan became the acting librarian after Trevor’s death. Almost her first task was to help with a consultancy undertaken from December 1996 to January 1997 by Alan Bundy, University Librarian at the University of South Australia. One of his recommendations was that the new Head Librarian, when appointed, should be a full voting member of the Faculty (now the Teaching Staff).

He also recommended that the position required a professional library qualification, and that it be advertised nationally. Some of his other suggestions included, under a photo of the heavy, old wooden doors at the entrance: ‘A good place to nail 95 theses, but not an inviting library entrance’; and, speaking of the Technical Services workroom:‘too many wires, too many books, too many outstations, too little space.’19

The ‘Salisbury shift’ 

Another major task that Ruth ably oversaw was the great “Salisbury Shift”. Alan Bundy had suggested that Luther Seminary acquire books from the library of the Salisbury Campus of UniSA, which was closing at the end of 1996.

Dr Malcolm Bartsch and Natalie Schwarz evaluated the residue of the collection at that time, with the view to building up library resources for the MEd course which was then at the research phase. In February 1997 a team of ten students under the supervision of Ruth and Natalie handled approximately 50,000 items in two weeks: computer-processing, packing and stacking. I was one of those students and it gave me my entrance to work at this library.20

What followed was the daunting task of loading the computer records for the 37,000 books on to the Löhe system, and the labour-intensive job of unpacking these books on to the shelves ready to be borrowed.

But where were we going to put all these books? The maintenance team cleaned out the remainder of the shed where the ATCO stood and made it habitable, with long banks of fluorescent lights set up by the electrician. The books were then shelved in order on wooden shelves which had also been purchased from Salisbury campus. Thus was created the ‘Bundy Wing’ of the library, better known as ‘the Shed’.

Staff changes 

The recommendations of the Bundy Report concerning the librarian were followed, and Mark Sutherland, formerly Senior Deputy Director of the University of South Africa Library in Pretoria, was appointed in January 1998. Mark was a quietly efficient person who saw his role as a ‘managing librarian’ and knew well how to get the best from his staff without being obtrusive.

However, working in an environment where young men were training for the ministry gave Mark a taste for this himself, and he left the library midway through 1999 to take up his own studies. Ruth Strelan also retired at the same time, leaving us to fill some major gaps.

The new head of the library, Jocelyn Morris, came from Camden Theological College Library in NSW in July 1999. She took the name of ‘Library Manager’ and set about her job with a furious energy that took our breath away. In less than three years, she oversaw a complete stocktake of the main collection, installed security gates inside the library entrance and replaced the wooden doors with more inviting glass doors, installed three large compactus for shelving the older books from the main collection and for the Rare Books, whisked away the shelving from the front entrance, replacing it with a new, spacious reference area set off by a magnificent old wooden table, and prepared an extensive plan for the redevelopment of the library buildings.

She joined numerous committees at the seminary and was a strong advocate for the library in a situation where funding had contracted in real terms over some years:

‘The library has been severely stretched financially. Further reductions will result in a harsh and negative impact on service delivery and support to courses and programs of the seminary.’21

Unfortunately, the reductions continued, not least in the staff. Natalie Schwarz resigned in May 2000 and was not replaced. Lavinia Gent took on the administration of interlibrary loans, which grew in volume because of her quick turnaround in supplying material to other libraries. Lyndall Timmis was now in charge of system maintenance of Dynix. She also completed the painstaking task of cataloguing all the rare books, most of them in German.

When Jocelyn herself resigned early in 2003 we were looking for our fourth library manager in as many years. Lavinia Gent took on the role of acting library manager for the remainder of the year, while a Library review was conducted. The end result was the loss of more staff at the end of 2003. Today there are 3.5 permanent staff working at the library, half the number who worked here at the time of Trevor’s death.

2004 to 2010 

Early in 2004 Blan MacDonagh was appointed Library Manager, bringing with her years of experience in another ANZTLA library. She initiated the installation of an air conditioning system and the conversion of the library management system. When Blan took over maintenance of the library management system, Dynix, it was over ten years old, an eternity in electronic terms.

Over the next few years, it became obvious that the library could not continue indefinitely with a system that would not be supported by the vendor. Finally, in 2008, Löhe Library moved to a new library management system called Symphony. From July to September, data was analysed for the conversion, extensive documentation was completed, and the staff were trained in the new system by a SirsiDynix trainer from Melbourne.22

Staff changes continued as Helen Schubert finally retired in 2008 after sixteen years working here. Her position as Acquisitions Librarian was taken by Pam Zweck Silcock.

Luther Seminary had become Australian Lutheran College in 2004 and in 2005 was registered as a Higher Education Provider. In 2010 the College extended its activities into the VET sector and plans to provide professional development courses, as well as a research arm. The library responds efficiently and proactively to such changes and the ongoing challenge of new technologies.

Currently, in 2010 the collections of Löhe Memorial Library comprise approximately 90,000 books and 13,500 bound volumes of periodicals. The library subscribes to 300 current periodicals and there is also a growing collection of items in digital format.23 The often predicted demise of the printed book has not yet occurred, although some items like multi-volume encyclopaedias are definitely endangered.

The Rare Books Collection is a reminder of the last great information revolution, when printed books took the place of handwritten manuscripts. We are still living through the latest information revolution, and the internet, e-books and and wikipedia have become for many the preferred way of accessing information. It remains to be seen if they can replace books as a means of acquiring knowledge.

As part of the celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the library, students and patrons have already benefited from a month-long amnesty on fines for overdue items. This recalls the biblical tradition of jubilee. We hope to celebrate the anniversary in other ways later in the year.

On reflection, it is remarkable to observe how much has changed in 50 years in terms of technology and staffing. Yet so much has remained the same in terms of service and dedication. As part of our jubilee, we can give thanks for all our faithful staff who have adapted to institutional and technological change as we look forward to the challenges of the future.

Trevor Schaefer
Circulation Services Librarian


1. The Dedication of Loehe Memorial Library, Immanuel Theological Seminary North Adelaide, sixteenth Sunday after Trinity, 2nd October, 1960 at 2.45 p.m., Immanuel Seminary, Adelaide.
2. Cross, Jack, 1959. ‘Angas Hall’, The Bond, July, 31.
3. Pfitzner, C J, 1960. Lutheran Herald 40/9 (14 May), 132.
4. Paul Lohe, 1960. The Bond, July, 39.
5. Zweck, Dean, 2009. ‘Wilhelm Löhe’ in LCA Yearbook, 8.
6. Lohe, Paul, 1961. The Bond, June, 22, 32.
7. Tangara, 1976, 32.
8. Von Schramek, Eric, 1968. ‘Features of interest in Luther Seminary’, The Lutheran, 25 March, 18.<
9. Tangara, 1976, 32.
10. Rohrlach, Lionel, 1981. ‘Library looms larger’, Tangara, 22.
11. Zweck, Trevor, 1983. ‘Luther and the Mass Media’, Lutheran Theological Journal 17/3 (Dec), 93–102; Zweck, Trevor, 1990. ‘My 50 best books of 1988–1989’, Lutheran Theological Journal 24/3 (Dec), 99–109.
12. Zweck, Trevor, 1987. ANZTLA Newsletter 1, 13.
13. Fry, Linda L, 1997. ‘Trevor John Zweck (1939–1996)’, American Theological Library Association Summary of Proceedings 51, 347.
14. Schubert, Helen, 2008. ‘ALC librarian checks out’, The Lutheran, Sep, 295.
15. Zweck, Trevor, 1994. ‘Automation of the Löhe Memorial Library’, Tangara, 6.
16. Zweck, Trevor, 1995. ‘A decade of working together’, in Philip Harvey & Lynn Pryor, eds, So Great a cloud of witnesses: libraries and theologies, ANZTLA, Melbourne Vic, 1995,13;
Canty, Val, 2003. ‘ANZTLA SA: a chapter with a story’, ANZTLA Newsletter 51, 27.
17. Gent, Lavinia, 1997. ‘In Memoriam: Trevor John Zweck 1939–1996’, Tangara, 2–3.
18. Fry, Linda L, 1997. ‘Trevor John Zweck (1939–1996)’, American Theological Library Association Summary of Proceedings 51, 347–349.
19. Bundy, Alan, 1997. Partner in Learning: the development of the Löhe Memorial Library, Luther Campus: report of a consultancy undertaken December 1996 – January 1997, University of South Australia, Adelaide, 3.
20. Strelan, Ruth, 1997. ‘Just what we needed – MORE BOOKS!’ in Teamspirit.
21. Morris, Jocelyn, 2001. Report to Library Committee, 5 November 2001.
22. Blan MacDonagh, 2008. Report to Library Committee, 28 August 2008.
23., accessed 4 June 2010.