The library of the Institute is the largest and oldest specialized theological library in Estonia in the area of theology and history of religion. It dates back some 200 years and the collection numbers almost 70 000 units in total. Although the collections of Tartu University library have expanded faster on the account of contemporary literature and periodicals than the collection of the Institute, it is continuously relevant to the Estonian professionals as well as students of theology and history of religion, as it contains many publications from the period from 1940 to 1990, which was very rarely included in the Tartu University library during the Soviet period. All in all, for the capital area as well as for the Northern and Western region of Estonia, the Institute’s library is the closest one where such theological literature can be studied. Over the years, the library of the Institute has been shaped into the central specialized theological library of the EELC. Its readers are comprised of current students and members of the Faculty, as well as of alumni and former staff members, EELC clergy, church workers and lay members. The library is open for all visitors.
The oldest part of the collection of the library is the Pastors’ Library, founded in 1819 (Ehstländische Prediger-Bibliothek) – altogether some 3500 volumes in total, offering first rate cross section of German theological literature from the end of 18th century until 1940. Older agendas, handbooks and collections of Bible translations, importance of which exceeds the borders of Estonia, supplement this library.
A unique part of the collection of our library is made up of the handwritten or manually typed theological publications, which in a way characterize the period from 1950 to 1980ies in Estonian theological landscape, when publishing of religious material was prohibited. Some of these manually typed writings were translations of some major contemporary (mainly German) theological books.
The library collection has been continuously supplemented by legacies and book donations from Finland, Sweden, Germany, USA, Canada and other countries. Contemporary theological literature has been purchased with the support of Northern Church in Germany (Nordkirche), and with the support of several private donors, as well as with donations from The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, University of Marburg and others.