Technology: Printing, Scanning, and Online/Off-site access to Library resources

This page gathers all of the policies we have at the Divinity School Library this semester for technology resources. We will cover Duke’s Virtual Private Network, software available through Duke, ePrint/on-campus printers, self-checkout, and public computers and scanners.

Duke’s Virtual Private Network (VPN)

Most library resources are available from off-campus through the EZProxy service—no VPN connection is necessary–all you need to do is log in with your Duke NetID and password. However, some library databases work better when the VPN is running in the background, creating a secure connection from your computer to Duke over a public network while you are working remotely. Visit these pages to learn more about accessing library services from off-campus, connecting to Duke’s network using the VPN, or using the 13 search strategies and databases we think Divinity students should know about.

Software available through Duke

Duke University provides students, faculty, and staff with free and discounted software that is useful to academic work. In addition to the complete Microsoft Office software suite (including Word, Excel, and Power Point), Duke students have access to RefWorks and EndNote, two popular tools for managing bibliographies and citations. Learn more about software available through Duke at OIT’s software licensing page.

Duke ePrint: the software for on-campus printing

Duke’s ePrint system allows students to print from their own computer or other device to any campus printing station. Download and install the ePrint client software to your computer, or search your mobile device’s app store for the Pharos App to connect to Duke’s printers. Learn more about ePrint, see instructions for installing ePrint on your Mac computer, or installing eprint on your Windows computerlearn more about mobile printing (including printing via email).

You can use this program to print to any of Duke’s on-campus printers, which are located at the Bryan Center, the campus libraries, and most academic buildings. The Divinity School has three print stations: one in the Student Lounge area of the Gray Building, one inside the Divinity Library, and one just outside the Divinity Library’s main entrance (next to our lockers).

Duke Self-Checkout

The Divinity School Library has a self-checkout station in front of our circulation desk. To use the self-checkout, install the “Duke Self-Checkout” app on your mobile device and log in with your Duke NetID and password. (Our self-checkout station also has an iPad you can use, but we highly recommend using your own device.) Use your phone or tablet’s integrated camera to scan the Duke Library barcode on your book(s), then use the station’s desensitizer to finish checking out. Learn more about self-checkout here; there are also instructions for using self-checkout posted at the station.

Computers and Scanners

The Divinity Library has several computer stations and scanners available for students to use. Also, please feel free to consider making a scan from your mobile device: the Notes app on your iPhone or iPad has an integrated scanner; we also recommend Genius Scanner or Adobe Scan.

Re-Opening the Divinity Library

Welcome to the Fall 2020 semester!

The Divinity School Library is open by reservation only (follow this link to make a reservation). In line with University policy, the Divinity School Library will be open to Duke faculty, staff, and students only. We cannot welcome Duke alumni, Friends of the Library, or other guests and visitors at this time; we apologize.

Divinity School Library hours this semester will be 8am-5pm, Monday – Friday.

You must make a reservation in advance to visit the Divinity School Library. There will be no food or drink allowed in the library this semester (apart from water bottles). All library users will need to wear a face mask, present their Duke ID to Library Staff at the Circulation Desk, and abide by the Duke Compact at all times. Please return any books you handle during your reservation to a marked book cart. Do not hand them to a librarian, and do not attempt to re-shelve them yourself. (We do appreciate the thought! But don’t do it.)

Additional rules and instructions for making a reservation are below. If you are looking for information on how to access library services without coming into the library itself, here are some other pages that might interest you:

Divinity Library E-Reserves

Requesting Divinity Library books for pickup

Requesting books from other Duke Libraries

Returning Duke Library books

Technology: Printing, Scanning, and Online/Off-site access to Library resources

Duke Libraries’ FAQ on re-opening and resuming services for Perkins, Bostock, Lilly, etc.

Reserving study seats and equipment in other Duke Libraries


Making a Reservation at the Divinity School Library

It is extremely important to your librarians that all Divinity students have space available to do the important, difficult work you are being asked to do for your classes. We also know our students have different needs. Some of you will be doing all your coursework remotely and may want to spend time in the library just once or twice this semester. Some of you will want to be regulars in the library on a particular day of the week, perhaps because you have multiple classes on campus that day. Some of you need to escape noisy roommates or small children so that you can read or write for your classes. And  some of you will want to spend every hour of every day in the library. We get it. We want the Divinity Library to be here for all of you.

Right now our Booking system is weighted toward letting a lot of students spend a little bit of time in the Divinity Library. As the semester gets underway and we learn more about students’ library needs, we will adapt. Here are some of the limitations you can expect right now:

  • Reservations are available from 9am-4pm, Monday to Friday.
  • You can reserve a seat for anywhere between 1 hour and the maximum 7-hour window.
  • Bookings are available 14 days in advance. (So you can make a reservation for next Tuesday, but you cannot make a reservation for November. Yet.)

Ready to get started? Go to the Divinity School Library Reservations page and select “Book a Seat.”

Here are a few hints to get you started:

  • If you want to reserve a seat in the library ASAP, there is a “Next Available” button.
  • If you want to reserve a seat on a specific date, the “Go To Date” button will bring up a calendar, and you can select the date you want.

  • GREEN boxes mean a seat is available. RED boxes mean someone has already booked this seat.
  • Don’t worry about the numbers (Divinity Seat 1, etc.). You are not reserving a specific seat. Your favorite table in the Reference Room, or carrel on the BR level, will be available on a first come, first served basis during your reservation window.
  • All seating in the Divinity Library has been adjusted so that patrons can sit at least six feet apart from one another. Please do not move furniture when you are in the Divinity Library.
  • The Baker Room and the Library Seminar Room will be unavailable as study spaces.

  • Once you have selected your seat, you can adjust the ending time for your reservation at the bottom of the page. The default reservation setting is 3 hours.
  • Hit “Submit Times.” You will be redirected to an authentication page where you will log in with your Duke NetID and password.
  • On the final reservation page, you will have to signal your agreement with certain policies (wearing a mask, not bringing in food, etc.).
  • Hit “Submit My Booking” at the bottom of the page. You will receive an email shortly from “Library Calendar” confirming your reservation.

Ready to get started? Go to the Divinity School Library Reservations page and select “Book a Seat.” And when you come to the library, remember:

Wear a face mask

Wash your hands (a lot)

Have your Duke ID ready

Return your Books to a Cart (not a librarian)

We look forward to supporting your work at Duke Divinity School this year!

Contactless Lending at the Divinity Library

UPDATE: You may now request Divinity Library books through the catalog (see the main Library Takeout page for more information). You may select your pickup library location from several options; if you select Divinity as your pickup location, Divinity librarians will email you with a locker number and combination when your items are ready.

We will keep the Divinity Titles request form active in the event that the pandemic forces Duke to close certain services, such as shipping between libraries. However, you may now use Library Takeout to request books from Divinity as well as other Duke Libraries.

The Divinity Library is happy to offer a contactless lending service. You may request titles through the catalog or using this form. Don’t need to read the entire book? We are also fulfilling scanning requests; follow this link for instructions on how to replace a request for scanning. Read on for details about how to request books, how to pick them up, and how we’re keeping you safe throughout this process.


    • Do not use this form to request the library’s copies of books that are required readings for Fall 2020 Divinity courses. Please check the Divinity E-Reserves page for electronic access to these textbooks.
    • Please do not spray or wipe down our books. Please do not microwave our books. It is not necessary to clean or disinfect them; in fact, this will hurt the books.
    • You will need to wear a mask and abide by the Duke Compact when on campus.


How to Request Books

UPDATE: It is now possible to request Divinity items through the Duke Libraries catalog. You may also use this form to submit your request. The form will ask you for some basic information (your name, email, and NetID) and allow space for as many as 12 titles. Please include the title and call number (highlighted below) for each book you are requesting. (You can copy and paste this information straight from the item record in the library catalog.)

Please also make sure the item has “Divinity School Library — Stacks” as its location, and “Available” as its status (see the blue arrows above). We cannot deliver items from other libraries through this form; nor are we recalling items that are currently checked out to other patrons.


How to Pick Up Books

Once you have submitted your request, please allow a minimum of 72 hours for processing by Divinity Librarians. We will email you if we have any questions or issues locating any of the books you selected. Your items will be checked out to you and placed in a library locker outside the Divinity Library’s main entrance. Library staff will email you with a locker number and combination after your books have been delivered. You may come at any time to pick up books that have been delivered to a locker; however, please note that access to campus is still restricted. You will need to wear a mask throughout your visit to campus, swipe your Duke ID to enter the Divinity building, and practice social distancing with any staff you may encounter.

Ready to request items? Follow this link to the Divinity Titles Request form.



When can I come into the library? All students will need to make a reservation in order to come into the Divinity Library. Please see this page for more information.

What if I need books from other libraries; can I request them for pickup at Divinity? UPDATE: Yes, you can! Requests through the Duke Libraries catalog can be delivered to Divinity, and Divinity Library books can be requested for delivery to other library locations. See this FAQ page for details on the DUL (Perkins/Bostock/Lilly/Music) take-out service.

Where should I park when I come in to pick up books? The Bryan Center parking garage is closest to the Divinity School building. If you arrive and depart within 30 minutes, you will not be charged.

Can I return my books? Sure! Please return items through the Divinity Library’s book drop, outside our main entrance. See this page for more information.

How soon will my items be ready? We are committed to getting your requested books to you as soon as possible. It generally takes 72 hours to fully process a request, due to the mandatory minimum quarantine periods built into this process.

I’m comfortable skipping the quarantine period and all these other extra steps. Can I request books for same-day pickup? No. Our protocols for materials handling are not a question of what level of risk individual patrons are willing to accept; rather, they are based on what level of risk Duke University is willing to accept. Decisions about wearing face masks and other personal protective equipment, about strength and composition of sanitizing solution, about length of quarantine period for various materials, etc., are all based on extensive research and committee work conducted through Duke University Libraries and the Duke Health System. Our answer to many requests, that in other times would seem perfectly reasonable, must therefore be “no.”

Just how “contactless” is this contactless lending service? We are taking steps to make this process as safe as possible, and it is completely fair for patrons to ask for a little more detail so they can make informed decisions about whether they are comfortable coming to campus for books. As we collect your requested books and check them out to you, librarians will be wearing masks. We are washing our hands frequently throughout the day and will always do so immediately prior to handling books for checkout. Email notifications are sent out on a 24-hour delay, so when you receive notification that your books are available, you can be confident they have not been touched by anyone for at least 24 hours.

How to Access the Latest News using Duke Libraries


Keeping up with current events is an important aspect of pastoral ministry and scholarly engagement. And it’s important to get your news from a variety of reputable sources. But if you’re reading this, you’re probably aware that there are challenges associated with print and electronic subscriptions — not least that they generally cost money.

If you’re tired of hitting a paywall and hoping you can thumb through Duke Libraries’ edition of your favorite local, national, or international newspaper, check out our list below of major titles and advice on how to access them electronically. Titles below are listed in alphabetical order. Looking for a newspaper or magazine we haven’t listed? Email Dr. Benjamin and she’ll help you find what you’re looking for.

Here are the shortcuts — see more details on browsing each of these titles below:

Note: When looking for newspaper and magazine issues/articles, often you’ll find you need to use our Online Journal Titles search. Not familiar with this function in the library catalog? Watch Dr. Benjamin’s screen as she walks through a tutorial.

Another Note: Many of these search instructions refer to a newspaper’s “ISSN”, which is a term you might not have heard before. The ISSN is the “International Standard Serial Number,” an eight-digit number that gives a unique identifier to all journals, magazines, newspapers, and other periodicals. It’s a good way to differentiate between the bazillion newspapers that are just called “The Times”!


Atlanta Journal-ConstitutionUse the embedded link or search by ISSN 1539-7459. Any of the platforms listed that include “to Present” in the date range will work — if you select the first, it will take you to a ProQuest-supported site that will let you expand by year and month so that you can select today’s date.


The Atlantic: Use the embedded link or search Duke’s catalog using this publication’s ISSN 1072-7825. From the many results, we recommend selecting “America’s News (Duke University).” This landing page will allow you to select from Recent Issues (including the current issue). Issues of The Atlantic are published on the first of the month. Click the date to see a list of articles you can read online.

Really wanted to read the physical copy? This magazine is received at Perkins Library, and can be found in the Current Periodicals section. Perkins Hours


Herald-Sun (Durham): Interested in reading a local newspaper? The Durham Herald-Sun or the Raleigh News & Observer are two good options. For the Herald-Sun, use the embedded link or search by ISSN 1055-4467. Select the “America’s News (Duke University)” platform, and you will be taken to a page where you can View Recent Issues (the newest will be from yesterday), or select a specific date from the calendar.


New York TimesUse the embedded link or search ISSN 0362-4331. Choose any platform that includes “to Present” in the date range; if you select “U.S. Newsstream,” you will be taken to a ProQuest-supported site that will let you expand by year and month in order to select the current date.


News & Observer (Raleigh): Use the embedded link or search the Duke Library catalog for the publication’s system ID, 004404962. Select the “America’s News (Duke University)” platform — be sure to select one where the date range ends with “to Present”! This will take you to a NewsBank site where you can View Recent Issues (the newest will be from yesterday), or select a specific date from the calendar.


The Wall Street Journal Use the embedded link, or go to the Online Journal Titles search in the Duke Libraries catalog and search “Wall Street Journal.” This should generate 18 search results, and the one that works best is part of the way down the page — it reads “Wall Street Journal (Online)” and has the ISSN 2574-9579. (Searching by this ISSN has yielded uneven results in the past, so we recommend searching by title!) Then, select the “International Newsstream” platform, to be taken to a ProQuest-supported site where you can expand by year and month to find the newspaper issue for the current day.

Alternatively, Duke’s Business and Law Libraries have committed to provide personal accounts for Duke community members for, the online edition of the Wall Street Journal (visit their FAQ page for information on how to register).


The Washington Post: Use the embedded link or search Duke’s catalog for ISSN 0190-8286. From the results, we recommend “U.S. Newsstream,” which will take you to a ProQuest-supported site that will let you expand by year and month to find the current issue:


Interested in a magazine or newspaper that is not on our list? E-mail Dr. Benjamin or use our Ask a Librarian form and we’d be happy to assist you!


What was it Karl Barth said about “reading the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other”? Well, he may not have used those exact words, but he made similar remarks in a number of places. See the Center for Barth Studies’ FAQ page for more.

Returning Duke Library Books


As of August 2021, Duke is no longer restricting campus access. Please visit any campus library to return your library books. If your visit to the library is after hours, please use one of the external book drops mapped below.


Use a Book Drop

Locations: Divinity Library (inside the Divinity building), or Perkins/Bostock (see map below)

You may return your books on campus, either at the external book drop at Perkins Library’s main entrance (off the quad) or at the Divinity Library. 


Still have questions? Please contact or use our Ask a Librarian form.

Divinity Library Tips for Offsite Research

Need help looking for online resources to support your research project? This guide aims to put all the links you need in one place. Below, find out how to contact a librarian about your research question; watch recorded tutorials that walk you through search strategies for various databases; and find a list of helpful links to connect you with additional online resources to support your research.

Not sure where to begin? Go straight to the source: librarians are still working offsite to answer your research questions and give you advice about where to find the sources you need. You can submit a general email query, set up an appointment with a librarian, or request a purchase.

Use this email form to ask us anything: from factual inquiries about the library’s holdings and services, to citation verification, to selection and use of electronic databases and resources, to guidance on how to begin library research for a term paper or class project.

Prefer to set up a Zoom appointment to have a conversation with a librarian? No problem! Make an appointment with a librarian so that we can hear more about your research interests. Zoom allows us to share our screen, so we can also walk you through searches of databases or other resources we think will be helpful to your project!

Make an Appointment with Katie Benjamin

Make an Appointment with Lacey Hudspeth

Have you identified a print resource that would help your research, and wonder if it’s available as an electronic book? Use this form to email a purchase request to the Library Director.

Note: To speed request processing, the most important information you can include on the form is the book’s 10- or 13-digit ISBN! This can be found in the library catalog record (if Duke already owns the print book) or on a book seller website like Powell’s or Amazon.


Using the Divinity School Library Website

Searching the Atla Religion Database

Searching the JSTOR Database

Troubleshooting: Searching a partial citation using Online Journal Titles

Searching HathiTrust – Emergency Temporary Access Service (ETAS)     ◊    Hathi Trust Digital Library — Home page

Searching Intelex Past Masters (Written tutorial)       ◊     Past Masters — Homepage


How to Return your Library books: At this time, we ask that only graduating seniors who need to clear their library accounts return their books. This page walks you through the various ways you can do that.

Divinity E-Reserves: Electronic versions of books required for Spring 2020 courses. (Summer 2020 and Fall 2020 coming soon!)

Quick-guide to Databases and Electronic Resources: The top 13 search strategies and databases Divinity students should know about.

Research Guide: Open Access Resources in Religious and Theological Studies — Duke Divinity School Library

Research Guide: Art and Images — Duke Divinity School Library

Research Guide: Biblical Studies — Duke Divinity School Library

Digitized pre-1923 Books on Divinity Archive — Duke Divinity School Library

Open Access Digital Theological Library (OADTL)

Theological Commons — Digital Collection from Princeton Theological Seminary

Online Theology Resources — Bridwell Library (SMU)

National Emergency Library — Internet Archive

How to Place a Request for Scanning

As the Divinity Library staff continues to work mostly offsite, we are carefully planning our return to campus and the safe delivery of library services to Divinity students, faculty, and staff, as well as our wider Duke and Durham communities. Although we cannot yet welcome patrons back into the Divinity Library, we are committed to making it easy for you to access Divinity Library materials! Check out our tutorials and tips for offsite research, and feel free to contact us if you have any questions about electronic databases or other library resources that can support your work. Of course, you might be wondering, What about Divinity Library materials that are print-only, and don’t exist in an electronic format? Great question. And we have good news for you!

This summer, the Divinity Library is partnering with Duke University Libraries’ Document Delivery team to allow you to place scanning requests for Divinity materials. In other words, you can now use the ILLiad form to request a PDF scan of chapters, essays, and articles from the Divinity Library’s print collection. Remember, we are unable to scan a full book for you, due to copyright laws and human finitude. So please make careful selections of what you really need for your research. When making your selection of one or more chapters, please also make sure that the book is checked in and has a Divinity Library location. We do not currently have access to other Duke Libraries’ materials.

Ready to make a Document Delivery request for something in the Divinity Library collection? Here’s how it works:


  1. From the main Divinity Library website, select “My Account.”


2. Choose “Document Delivery” and log in using your NetID and password.


3. From the menu on the left, select “New Request -> Chapter.”


4. Give as much information as you can about the book/chapter(s) you are requesting.

  • Book Title: This field is required.
  • Inclusive pages: This field is also required — if you know what pages your chapter falls on, this is helpful; if not, just put “not sure” and give us the chapter title; we’ll figure it out.
  • Call Number: For example, BR115.P8 P35 2018 — you can copy and paste this from the book’s catalog record. It will help us speed request processing! While you are in the record, make sure your book lists a Divinity Library location. Currently there is no shipping between Duke Libraries, so we are unable to do any scanning for you from other libraries’ collections.
  • Chapter Author/Title: Again, we cannot scan an entire book for you, so please choose the chapter or chapters that will be most helpful! If you would like multiple chapters, feel free to list them all in these boxes.
  • Notes: This field is for any other information you think will be helpful for us as we locate your book and fulfill your request. We are prioritizing scanning for fall courses, so if your request is for something you need to post to Sakai for your students, please include the course number in the notes field and we will fulfill it ASAP. Otherwise, individual research requests will be processed in the order that they are received.


5. Once you’ve filled out your form, hit “Submit” at the bottom. Please allow a minimum of 48 hours for request processing. When your scan is available, you will receive an email with a direct link to the PDF. The scan will also appear on the ILLiad menu, under “Electronically Received Articles”:


We look forward to helping you continue to access the Divinity Library’s collection remotely. Stay safe, and thanks for your patience as we plan our return to campus in coordination with the other Duke Libraries and with Duke University guidelines!

Finding Commentaries in the Divinity School Library: A Short Guide

Need to find one or more biblical commentaries* for a sermon or an assignment? Below you’ll find advice on how to find commentaries using the Atla database, the Reference Room, the library catalog, and more!

Using Atla

You can access the Atla database directly from the Divinity Library’s homepage — look for the blue catalog search box and choose the second tab (Atla). Use the keywords “Daniel commentary” (or whatever book of the Bible you are searching for) and hit Search.

Now. Atla indexes a lot of material — articles, book reviews, books, and more. To narrow it down to commentaries specifically, scroll down and watch the left-hand menu. “Source Types” has a default selection of “All Results,” but that’s not what you want. Select “Books” — the page will refresh, and now all the results will be books!

Browse through the results and pick a few you like. The item record will only give you a little information — the title, the author, and the publication data. Once you’re ready to find the book itself, click the “Get it at Duke” icon. This icon will run a search for an online version of the book, and it will likely take you to a page that says we don’t have it — but that just means we don’t have it online. The same page gives you options to locate the book in the print catalog, OR request the item through Interlibrary Loan!

Using the Catalog — Finding PRINT or ONLINE Commentaries

Go back to the Divinity Library homepage and find the blue search box again. Use the same search string we just used for Atla (book name + commentary) in the main catalog search box. Sometimes if your book of the Bible is a common English name (Samuel, Daniel, Matthew, Mark, etc.), it helps to toss the word “Bible” in there, too.

You might get a lot of results — look at the menu on the left-hand side of the page for helpful ways to narrow them, for example:

“Available Online” — Check this box to only see e-books you can access immediately!

“Location” — Select “Divinity” to limit your search results to print books that are from the Divinity Library’s collection.

“Publication Year” — This one is towards the bottom of the menu, but very helpful if you are looking for the latest scholarship (e.g., within the last 25 years).

Using the Reference Room

The entire back wall of the Reference Room is filled with commentary series, arranged in alphabetical order by series title — starting with ANCHOR BIBLE on your left and proceeding to WORD BIBLICAL COMMENTARY on your right. The series are then arranged in order of canon (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus…). These are all modern commentaries (after the development of historical critical methodology),  and the wall is designed to be very easy to browse. None of these volumes can circulate (which means they’ll always be right there in the Reference Room for you to use!), but we typically have a circulating copy of all Ref Room commentaries that you can find in the stacks and check out.

One exception to the Reference Room’s WALL OF MODERNITY is the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture series. Per its title, this series gathers short excerpts from commentaries by Early and Medieval church fathers and mothers on particular passages of scripture. Interested in using the ACCS or other methods to find pre-modern commentaries? Keep reading!

Looking for Pre-Modern Commentaries

What is a pre-modern commentary, and why should you be interested in studying one? We’re using “pre-modern” here to mean “before the development and popularization of historical criticism”; in other words, before the 19th century. (As for why you should care about pre-modern biblical commentary, go read David Steinmetz’s “The Superiority of Pre-Critical Exegesis,” chapter one in Taking the Long View.) When you’re well and truly convinced by Steinmetz’s thesis and ready to go about finding some good pre-modern material, here are a few places to start:

Searching the Library Catalog: Pull up the library catalog and use the following search string: “Bible. Daniel. Commentaries. Early works to 1800” Seriously. Copy and paste it (quotation marks and all) and hit SEARCH. (And insert whichever book of the Bible you are studying for “Daniel” in the example.) This will bring you pre-modern commentaries from our library catalog. Enjoy!

Using the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture Series: ACCS gathers lots of short excerpts on short passages of Scripture, but these come from longer works. So how do you find the longer works? First, find a passage you like in ACCS. Locate the author (small caps, after the bolded section heading), and the source (small caps, at the end of the section). The source will have a footnote: look for the corresponding number at the bottom of the page. Here you will find an abbreviation of the larger source: LCC 3:178-79, for example, means Library of Christian Classics, volume 3, pages 178-79. Not sure what the abbreviation stands for? Look for the Abbreviations section in the front of the volume you are using. Popular series in English include ACW (Ancient Christian Writers), ANF (Ante-Nicene Fathers), FC (Fathers of the Church), LCC (Library of Christian Classics), and NPNF (Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers) — and ALL of these series are in the Reference Room! (Ask a librarian if you get stuck.)

Using Biblia Patristica: Interested in finding commentaries in Latin and Greek? The Biblia Patristica series is located in the Reference Room at BR 66.5 .U53, or you can also use the online, open access search tool at BiBLindex. These resources gather citations of passages in the writings of early and medieval Christians that comment on Scripture and organize them by verse. Start by looking up your passage in a Biblia Patristica volume: you’ll find abbreviated citations of longer works; for example, “TERT PAT ” is Tertullian’s De patientia. (See the abbreviation list at the front of the volume — which will also tell you Tertullian’s De patientia can be found in CCL (Corpus Christianorum, Series Latina) volume 1. Look closely at the citation: often Biblia Patristica will give you the book and chapter number of the larger work, and/or the page and line number from the critical edition in CCL or PG (Patrologiae, Series Graeca) or PL (Patrologiae, Series Latina)! Confused? Find Dr. Benjamin. She loves helping people learn Biblia Patristica.

Browsing the Stacks for Commentaries

The Divinity School Library uses the Library of Congress classification system, which arranges books by subject. Each book of the Bible is its own subject — commentaries on Old Testament books start with Genesis at BS 1231 and end with Malachi at 1671; OT Apocryphal books occupy BS 1711-1871; New Testament books start with Matthew at BS 2570 and end with Revelation at 2820; and NT Apocryphal books occupy BS 2860-2970. Looking for commentaries on Daniel? Go browse BS 1550-1560! This section will be full of commentaries* and monographs** on Daniel. The full list of biblical books by Library of Congress Classification Number can be found here.


*What is a commentary?

A commentary is an in-depth, verse-by-verse analysis of a book of the Bible. Commentaries often interact with the original language of a text as well as its cultural, historical, literary, and socio-political contexts, in order to help readers understand the text’s function and purpose.


** What is a monograph?

A monograph is a book that is written (graph) by a single (mono) author, typically on a single subject. But a monograph is not necessarily a commentary! Remember, a commentary is a verse-by-verse engagement with a text. A monograph might go on at length about something related to the biblical text (e.g., coins within the Roman empire and currency used in 1st-century Judea), but will not offer verse-by-verse commentary. Trying to figure out if the book you have chosen is a commentary on Matthew? See if you can find the part that deals with Matthew 4. And Matthew 16. If that was an easy exercise, you have a commentary!


De-coding your Syllabus: Practical Tips for the Beginning of the Semester

Welcome to Duke Divinity School! We know the first days of a new semester are always hectic — and on top of it all, professors keep sending you eighteen page documents full of dates, bibliographies, and bullet points! A syllabus can be complicated and intimidating, even for people who have been in academia for years, so please know it is not just you.

Don’t panic. Do this instead.

Sit down with a hard copy of the syllabus, a highlighter, and your personal calendar. 

Everything in this syllabus is important. But let’s grab the REALLY important stuff first.

REQUIRED TEXTS: These usually show up early in the syllabus. You MUST have these books OR know exactly how you can access them. HINT: if a reading says “SAKAI” next to it, the professor has posted it to your course’s Sakai site. If a reading doesn’t have this notation, YOU are responsible for making sure you have access to the reading, whether by purchasing the book or finding it in the library. Professors send their book lists to the library before each semester so that we can collect “e-reserves”, or electronic copies of required textbooks, that you can access online and read from home or from your favorite Durham coffee shop. Give it some thought: choose which books you want to invest in buying and which books you can find at the library.

ASSIGNMENTS LIST: Open the syllabus to find the calendar of assignments. Sometimes you have to dig a few pages to find it. And it may be under a few different categories, but often it will be under something akin to “Assignments and Policies.” You are looking for assignments and dates these assignments are due. This section is the most important thing in the entire document.  Read it closely, then read it again, and immediately write or enter all of the assignments into your calendar on the days they are due. Midterm exam? In-class presentation? Final paper? Final paper due the same week as all your other final papers for all your other classes? Don’t let any of these dates sneak up on you! Put them on your calendar and start to make a plan for the hard weeks in the semester now.

ASSIGNMENT DETAILS: Knowing you have a paper due in the first week of October and getting it on your calendar is a great first step. But as soon as you get it on the calendar, your brain is going to go, “Great! Let’s not worry about this until October 1st.” Hold that thought. Flip through the rest of the syllabus and see if you can find a section that gives more detail on the expectations for each assignment. Flag this section with a Post-it note that will stick out the side of your syllabus so you can find it easily again when you start worrying about an assignment in earnest. But do yourself a favor and read it now, and think about how you can prepare: does the assignment ask you to review a book that’s not on the assigned readings list? Summarize and analyze the course readings up to this point in the semester? You should make a plan for how you’re going to get that work done before the night before your assignment is due.

RHYTHM OF A WEEK: What does a normal week in this class look like? Find the calendar of assigned readings. Slowly skim through the first couple of weeks. About how many pages are you being asked to read to prepare for class? Do you need to write a summary of the readings, post a discussion question for Sakai, email your preceptor a reflection paragraph, or prepare some other response to each week’s readings? Figure out exactly how much work this class is going to be, and figure out when you’re going to do it. Reading is slow work! Try to find spaces in your schedule where you know you can read without being stressed about rushing off to your next thing.

ACRONYMS AND ABBREVIATIONS: Okay, admit it: you skipped ahead to see what you need to read for next week, and you saw “CCOT” and some numbers and got confused. Slow down! Go back and look through the different required texts and see if any of them have an acronym next to them. Often these books have long, complicated titles — and in the assignments sections, a professor will only refer to the book by its author’s last name, or by an acronym. So for the Cambridge Companion to the Old Testament, a professor might call it CCOT — aha!

OTHER AWFUL WORDS: Monograph… Peer-reviewed article… Chicago/Turabian style footnotes… Highlight ANY word you aren’t sure about and either look it up or ask your friendly librarians. Sometimes in a syllabus, professors will speak in the ways in which they are used to speaking and reading, which often includes jargon that is unfamiliar to people who haven’t spent the last decade (or more) immersed in the academy. And, if you feel overwhelmed from the start of the semester because you don’t understand the syllabus, that can be a difficult start to the class. We want you to feel empowered!

PARTING THOUGHTS: If there is ANYTHING you do not understand in a syllabus, make an appointment with Lacey Hudspeth or Sigrid Kjaer on Sakai, or email them at or Librarians are here to help make your lives easier and to aid in your academic success in any ways that we can! 

Duke Self-Checkout: Adding a Proxy

Supported by meeScan, Duke’s new Self-Checkout feature is a fast and easy way to check out books from Duke Libraries. Perkins, Bostock, Divinity, Goodson Law, and Marine all have a meeScan.

The self-checkout unit can be used with the attached iPad, or an app you download on your smart phone. Search “Duke Self-checkout” in your phone’s app store:


How to set up a proxy account:

  1. Have your research assistant download the Duke Self-checkout app.
  2. On your research assistant’s phone, choose the Change Patron icon in the lower right hand corner, and select the green “Log In” option.
  3. This will take you to a secure page that prompts you to enter your Net ID and password. Enter YOUR OWN password on your RA’s phone; DO NOT send your RA your login information.
  4. Your RA will now see two accounts on their phone, and they will be able to switch back and forth:
  5. And whenever a book is checked out to your account, you will get an email: 
  6. When the academic year ends, or when you are finished using a particular RA as your proxy, they can delete you from their Self-checkout app by selecting the red “log out” option under the Change Patron icon:
  7. Questions? Need help getting started? Stop by the Divinity Library Circulation Desk, and we will be happy to help.