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Todd Ream

Keynote Address: For Or Unto Me?: Explorations of the Formative Potential of Libraries

The mere fact that visitors to libraries are often referred to as patrons points to a challenge. In particular, when one visits a library he or she is thinking about what resources he or she may acquire and do so for a purpose identified prior to arrival. The success of his or her visit is thus determined by whether that acquisition effort was successful. As a result, libraries are measured by the size of their holdings and thus the chance of a patron’s success. However, what if one were to visit a library to not only acquire resources but also to undergo a formative experience? Instead of just thinking libraries exist for me, what if I also thought about what libraries do unto me? In essence, what is the formative potential of such an experience? 

In I Corinthians 13:12, the Apostle Paul writes, “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.” References to this passage often focus on the fact that we see. However, the Apostle Paul was clear to point out that because of our finite nature, we see but do so dimly. 

What if libraries were places that point us to the reality that we see? However, what if libraries were also places that remind us we will never see all that exists this side of eternity? In the end, I propose to explore the formative potential of libraries in relation to the cultivation of intellectual humility—this side of eternity we need to be reminded that we see but that we also see dimly.           

Todd C. Ream is professor of higher education at Taylor University and a distinguished fellow with the Lumen Research Institute. He has served on college and university campuses in residence life, student support services, honors programs, and as a chief student development officer. In addition to serving as the author or editor of numerous books, Todd has contributed articles, editorials, interviews, and reviews to a wide variety of journals, magazines, and newspapers including About Campus, Christianity TodayFirst ThingsInside Higher EdModern TheologyNotre Dame Magazine, and the Review of Higher Education

Todd is the author of Christian Faith and Scholarship: An Exploration of Contemporary Developments (with Perry L. Glanzer, Jossey-Bass, 2007), Christianity and Moral Identity in Higher Education (with Perry L. Glanzer, Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), A Parent's Guide to the Christian College: Supporting Your Child's Mind and Spirit During the College Years (with Timothy W. Herrmann & C. Skip Trudeau, Abilene Christian University Press, 2011), The Idea of a Christian College: A Reexamination for Today’s University (with Perry L. Glanzer, Cascade Books, 2013), and Restoring the Soul of the University: Unifying Christian Higher Education in a Fragmented Age (with Perry L. Glanzer & Nathan Alleman, InterVarsity Press, 2017).

Todd is also the editor of a number of books including The State of the Evangelical Mind: Reflections on the Past, Prospects for the Future (with Jerry A. Pattengale & Christopher J. Devers, InterVarsity Press, 2018). 

Todd is presently working on a series of books concerning Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C. (1917-2015). Two of those titles include Hesburgh of Notre Dame: The Church’s Public Intellectual (for Paulist Press) and Hesburgh of Notre Dame: A Photographic Portrait (for University of Notre Dame Press).