Rare book room dedicated by Vermont Baptist college
Dedicated May 23, the Michael Alford Rare Books Library Exhibit -- dubbed the MARBLE room -- contains more than 1,000 books at least 100 years old, with the oldest volume published in 1745. The room is named in honor of a retired Schenectady, N.Y., church planter who started congregations across the Northeast.
The MARBLE room "brings together two things I love in a great way: old books and planting churches," NEBC President Mark Ballard said.
The college, which opened in the fall of 2013, now has more than three dozen students. Vermont's State Board of Education granted NEBC accreditation and degree-granting authority in September.
The school's Hogue Library is the largest Christian library in Vermont, with more than 25,000 volumes and several special collections. The MARBLE room features handcrafted shelving and decorations contemporary with the books, like an old typewriter and a grandfather clock.
Ballard and vice president of library services James Mancuso have wanted to establish a rare books room since NEBC's founding, when the entire college had just $47 and the call of God, Ballard said.
In dedicating the MARBLE room, its namesake called Baptists in the Northeast to hold fast to God's truth.
"I am reminded of the words of a very wise man named Solomon," Alford said. "'Do not remove the ancient landmarks which your fathers set.' These landmarks -- or boundary stones -- I like to call them principles of serving God."
Among the MARBLE room's holdings is "The Story of Yates the Missionary" by Charles Taylor. Published in 1898, Taylor's work launched the book publishing ministry of the Baptist Sunday School Board, now LifeWay Christian Resources. The collection also houses the personal journal of 19th-century Vermont pastor Henry Crocker. The journal is on permanent loan from the Green Mountain Baptist Association in Barre, Vt.
Along with the Baptist Convention of New England, the Green Mountain Association has established a ministry partnership with NEBC.
In Bennington, NEBC shares a former Ramada Inn and Conference Center with an elementary and secondary Christian school. The college uses the third and fourth floors of the building while Grace Christian School is housed on the first two floors. The Hogue Library is in a separate building.