One of the misunderstandings that dominate the concept of libraries is that you go into one to look for a book whose title you already know. In reality it often happens that you go to a library because you want a book whose title you do know, but the principal function of the library, at least the function of the library in my house and of that of any friend we may chance to visit, is to discover books whose existence we never suspected, only to discover that they are of extreme importance to us.
The information on this page and its sub-pages (Other Religion Guides, Open Access Aggregators, etc.) will facilitate collaborating in making this guide stronger.
The Websites on Religion LibGuide (WOR) is intended to be a working document that grows with the interests of its contributors. The field of religion is vast, and each individual religion easily deserves its own set of guides. This particular guide is not meant to be exhaustive, but rather to provide a list of free resources for librarians and researchers to use when studying a particular topic in religion.
It started as a the "The Guide to Internet Resources for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion," hosted by the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion. (See this snapshot of an earlier version: 2013 Snapshot.) Later, the "Internet Guide" (as it was called), was put under the care of Atla, and a selection of the materials collected were transferred to this LibGuide.
This guide is meant to be a perpetually evolving tool for librarians supporting religious and theological studies. Its focus will be on open access materials that are freely available online. To that end, it will not be mentioning major published works that are still in copyright and not available except by purchase or subscription. Librarians are encouraged to incorporate this open access material into the specific resources they have collected at their own institutions (both open and closed access). This guide is not intended to be an exhaustive list of open access materials, but rather a place to gather resources that librarians have found 'most helpful' regarding the listed topics.
The original "Internet Guide" was built using the following criteria for selection of links:
useful, significant content; institutional origin; active maintenance; free access; good webpage design; correct spelling and grammar; English language.
The Creation of the Wabash Center Internet Guide
These criteria remain, though links leading to syllabi, individual scholars' pages, listserve discussion groups, and individual articles have generally been omitted.
Some care has been given to pull together certain "aggregators" of open access materials.
As time and collaborative efforts permit, significant guides and portals that point to password-protected resources will also be listed, as these introduce the user to the full range of both open and closed(?) access materials.
For the purpose of this guide, particularly in the "World Religions" tab, "Christianity" is used in the sense of Christianity viewed as a "world religion" or "global religion" rather than a particularly "Western" religion. Given the nature of theological and religious education in North America (where the vast majority of Atla members are located), various topics on liturgy, theology, hermeneutics, history, etc., could very well necessitate their own guide.
Various denominational groups of Atla are welcome to contribute their own separate LibGuide for information on their particular stream of Christianity.
Listing and categorizing world religions is a bit more complex than first appears. A list, by its very nature, is an assertion of "insiders" and "outsiders." Does a religion make the main list? Does it fall under a major category or a "miscellaneous" catch-all category? To this end, the religious traditions listed in this guide are not meant to be "universally descriptive," but rather as a general categorization for librarians to use to gather open access resources. As librarians collect resources on a particular subject area or research passion, and develop further guides, more categories and pages can be added.
Where relevant, the WOR LibGuide provides links to main articles and 'categories' in Wikipedia. Researchers are encouraged to use these pages as further "launching points" into materials found online and in print, paying closest attention to the footnotes, bibliography, and external links given in each article. The content of each article should be used critically and with caution.
At the bottom of each page of the WOR guide is a list of "Open Access Aggregators." These links correspond to the resources highlighted on the Open Access Aggregators page. These resources are added to each page to remind the user to look beyond the guide to find more open access materials. In updating these pages, the Open Access Digital Theological Library was particularly helpful, because it pulls open access content from many of the other aggregators listed.