Annette Brill Bergstresser
AMBS announces the appointment of Karl Stutzman as director of library services, effective July 1, 2016. He will continue the work of Eileen Saner, who will have served as library director for 31 years when she retires on June 30.
Stutzman has been serving the AMBS library since 2008, most recently as assistant director for digital library services.
“Karl’s innovative leadership in theological librarianship and deep commitment to the mission of AMBS make him the ideal person to be the next AMBS director of library services,” says Saner. “I leave AMBS with confidence in the future and gratitude for my opportunity to participate in preparing leaders for God’s reconciling mission in the world.”
“AMBS is a marvelous place to work as a librarian,” Stutzman says. “Faculty, staff, and students at AMBS delight in serving the church and following Jesus.
“Our LEED-certified green library building, completed in 2007, is both strikingly beautiful and practically functional — a testament to Eileen’s leadership and the strong support of AMBS donors. It is an honor to be named director of library services, a role in which Eileen has set a high bar for success.”
Stutzman’s interest in library work began as far back as elementary school. “I got to skip out of class in fifth and sixth grade to help the younger kids find and check out library books,” he remembers. As a history major with minors in Anabaptist/Mennonite studies and German at Goshen (Indiana) College, he worked in the Mennonite Historical Library and served as a student representative on the library committee.
In 2004, he began working as a library technician at the Goshen College Good Library. Several years later, he earned a Master of Library Science from Indiana University in Indianapolis.
In 2008, he began work at AMBS as interim librarian for access services and acquisitions, helping with changing library workflows and improving the library’s usage of software and training materials. Two years later, he was hired for the new position of access and digital services librarian.
“Eileen continued to mentor me and encourage me to develop my ideas and expertise,” he says. “I got to coordinate a redesign of the library website and improve our linking to electronic resources.”
Through Saner’s encouragement, Stutzman joined the American Theological Library Association (ATLA) and Chicago Area Theological Library Association (CATLA) and later served as president of CATLA and systems coordinator for the Private Academic Library Network of Indiana (PALNI).
In 2013, he was selected as a participant in the Wabash Center Teaching and Learning Colloquy for Theological School Librarians.
The Wabash colloquy was “a tremendous opportunity to think critically about the role of the theological library alongside other new library leaders,” he reflects.
In 2013–14, Stutzman helped coordinate a computer system migration for the 23 PALNI libraries, including AMBS. He was named assistant director for digital library services in 2014, reflecting his increased responsibility for systems, digital projects, and strategy.
As library director, Stutzman says he wants to continue the strong tradition of library services at AMBS with openness to growth and change. He envisions more opportunities to share seminary library resources with students, faculty, and church leaders, whether they are near Elkhart or at a distance.
“My favorite metaphor for the library is a conversation,” Stutzman says. “The authors of our books and articles are in conversation with each other, finding meaning in the Bible and Christian faith. At AMBS, we continue to invite people into this rich conversation across time and place.
“As a librarian I am a conversation facilitator: my job is to bring new and old voices together to encounter the good news of God’s reconciling mission.”
Rebecca Slough, academic dean at AMBS, sees Karl as “epitomizing the next generation of librarians in theological education.”
“He thinks in terms of collaboration and serves students and faculty effectively and with humility in their learning endeavors,” she says. “I’ve observed that he gathers knowledge widely about Anabaptist-Mennonite traditions and loves the church. He raises ethical questions about how technology is shaping communities. He also thinks creatively about how libraries can serve their larger publics.
“He has learned from Eileen Saner’s fine example of librarianship and now has opportunity to bring his leadership gifts to the mission of the AMBS library.”
Over the years, Stutzman has also been a student at the seminary and anticipates earning a Certificate in Theological Studies this year. He says he has appreciated the opportunity to build relationships with students and faculty in a classroom setting and to deepen his faith and understanding of the Bible and theology.
Stutzman is married to Twilla Epp-Stutzman (MDiv, 2005); they have three children. They are members of Prairie Street Mennonite Church in Elkhart. In addition to Stutzman and Saner, AMBS library staff members include Brandon Board, library services technician.
Photo: Eileen Saner in the AMBS library. Credit: Lynne Zehr