Research library heads to Barbados

Published June 1, 2000

Philip Wadham helped arrange for Prof. John Hurd to ship his books to Codrington College.

Having begun collecting books on religious topics during his seminary days some 50 years ago, retired Trinity College professor John Hurd had amassed several hundred by the time he and his wife were ready to move into a condominium down the road from their Toronto house.

Prof. Hurd ran into a problem: what to do with his research library that filled a basement, an upstairs study and a back room? A computer buff, he considered listing the books on the Internet and selling them one by one. “I thought, life is too short, I’ll never make it,” Prof. Hurd said during a recent visit to Anglican Church House in Toronto.

Then he considered calling a book dealer and selling them for a lump sum. Finally, during e-mail correspondence with a New Testament teacher at Codrington College in Barbados, Prof. Hurd hit upon the idea of shipping the bulk of his collection to the college. The college jumped at the idea.

“I’d like to have the books used and more or less kept together,” Prof. Hurd said. “It’s not a magnificent collection, as if I’d been a book collector. I write in my books. I got them because they were useful.”

But he wondered how useful all the books might be to others, figuring that some, including the ones in German, might be too esoteric. He figured the Barbadians might simply wish to trade or sell some of the books for cash. But they assured him, they were interested in them all.

“Then the question was, is it possible?” Prof. Hurd said. Canada Post wanted more than $1,600 to ship the books.

Fortunately, Codrington College has a close association with the Anglican Church’s Partners in Mission program. Rev. Philip Wadham, Latin America and Caribbean mission co-ordinator, notes that Partners is sponsoring two Haitians to attend the college. Codrington is a well-respected academic institution that attracts theological students from across the West Indies, he said. But the college lacks cash and relies heavily on grants from inside and outside the country.

Mr. Wadham has been to Codrington and knows the library can use the extra books. Partners arranged to pay a shipper $500 to send the books in late April.

Prof. Hurd laughed when asked how many books were stored in the 101 liquor store boxes he’d transported in three van loads to Church House’s shipping department.

“Part of the arrangement was that I wouldn’t have to count them,” he said. The books weighed in at 1,425 kilograms (3,140 pounds). They consist mainly of standard reference tools and works in the area of Greek grammar and Pauline studies.

Prof. Hurd was a member of the committee that founded the Toronto School of Theology. He specialized in St. Paul and taught introductory Greek for many years. “All Wycliffe (College) and Trinity students went through my classes,” from about 1970 on, he said. “The Diocese of Toronto and the Province of Ontario is populated with my students.” Wycliffe and Trinity are part of the University of Toronto.

Codrington College is more than 250 years old and was established at the request of Christopher Codrington, governor-general of Antigua and the Leeward Islands. On his death in 1710, Mr. Codrington bequeathed his two plantations in Barbados to the Society for the Propagation of the Christian Religion in Foreign Parts, in order to establish a college.

Today the theological college can accommodate up to 29 students and functions as the religion department of the University of Barbados. Student exchanges between Trinity College and Codrington College are being considered, Mr. Wadham said.

Meanwhile, Prof. Hurd hopes to visit the new home of his books one day, possibly on a short-term teaching job.


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