The APTS library is considered to be one of the finest theological libraries in the region because of its vast collections of print and non print materials that support the learning needs of its users. The library grew slowly and intermittently in its first 20 years. In a few cases the library was operated without a full time librarian. APTS library caters to more or less 25 nationalities. Students represent the largest group of users numbering more than one hundred.
Originally, the school was located in Malinta, Valenzuela. It was then Far East Advanced School of Theology (now APTS–since 1989) founded by Dr. Harold Kohl in 1964. At first, FEAST had no library so the Bethel Bible Institute (now Bethel Bible College) shared their library resources with FEAST to support the information needs of students. The FEAST building was constructed in the Bethel compound. Dr. Kohl was then the President of both institutions. Bea Kohl, the wife of Harold Kohl, serving as librarian, developed the FEAST library. Beginning in 1964, the Boys and Girls Missionary Crusade (BGMC) of the American Assemblies of God contributed a substantial amount of money to support the development of the FEAST library. Over the years, BGMC has faithfully continued to contribute regularly to augment the library resources. During the earlier years of FEAST, classrooms were being used as the library.
In 1969, Felicidad Sato was appointed as librarian, followed by Mrs. Lolita Balista in 1973 and Juliana Ibañez in 1979. In the 80’s, Barbara Liddle (now Dr. Barbara Cavaness-Parks) served as librarian for a number of years. She also oversaw the transition from Dewey Decimal Classification to Library of Congress in the 1980’s. After her tenure, Grace Kendrick took the position and then Gary Flokstra in 1986. Mrs. Thessie Alvior (now Thessie Colar) was the longest-serving employee in the library as library staff assistant from 1980 until 2004. But prior to this, she first worked in another department of FEAST in 1974.
According to Gary Flokstra, (head librarian, 1986-1996) most of the books added in the first five years or so were donated or paid for by BGMC. The first specific purchase of books was done by Dr. George Batson (Academic Dean) in the early 70’s. He and Dr. Wonsuk Ma were the two deans who wanted the library to grow. Dr. Batson was also the first person responsible for instituting policies and procedures in the library. This policy was expanded by Gary Flokstra by including some areas such as student handbooks, faculty handbooks, budget issues, job descriptions, mission statements, goals & objectives, as well as the collection development policy. This policy is still in effect but certain updates were made by the succeeding head librarians/ library coordinators. As time went by, the library continued to develop. The major donors for the library improvements were the McKinneys, Batson, Kohl and Margaret Carlow. Rev. Robert and Bev Soderberg raised funds for periodical subscriptions and for the microform collections and readers.
Beginning in 1986 there was a period of rapid growth of the library, through the effort of the then newly appointed head librarian, Gary Flokstra, who served at APTS for ten years with his wife Glenna as periodicals librarian. Throughout his time, the library holdings grew (from 10,000 volumes in 1986) to more than 44,000 volumes, making the library one of the outstanding theological libraries in Southeast Asia. In October 1986, two months after he was appointed head librarian, FEAST was transferred to Baguio City, and he had to oversee the transfer of all the library collections and shelves from Manila.
During the 90’s, the school began to computerize the library. The library holdings were initially computerized with the installation of an Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC). The first library software used was BibBase. It was a DOS turnkey program that was developed in the US. Prior to BibBase, the library used an IBM memory typewriter to produce cards (1984-1986). During the management of Gary Flokstra, they outsourced catalog cards by sending bibliographic information to Caribbean and Latin American Special Projects Office and received printed cards in two weeks. This cost about 50 US cents a record. Before outsourcing, Mrs. Kitano, a missionary wife and a library staff, typed cards on an IBM Selectric, one at a time.
After 1996, a succession of capable librarians/library coordinators served APTS, building on the strong foundation set by the Flokstras. These included Melany Wilks, who served as library coordinator from 1996-2000. The Alexandria software was purchased during her tenure but not utilized. After her term, Nina Colley was the library coordinator from 2000-2001. Then followed Berniece Scroggs from 2001-2004. During her time, Alexandria was installed with the help of the library staff Nina Alcain and William Alcabedos. In 2002, a 3M magnetic strip security system was installed. This was to protect the library’s valuables against theft and possible loss of collections.
After the tenure of Berniece Scroggs in 2004, Rev. Steve Carter and Dr. Rose Engcoy both served as library coordinators respectivelyfor a short period of time. In December 2005, Anna Hymes became the library coordinator until 2009. This was the time the ARC building was being constructed for additional classrooms, offices and a bigger library to house the continually growing collection and serve the increasing student population. Through the effort of Anna Hymes, the library obtained pallets of double-faced steel shelves, a donation from Convoy of Hope, which are now being used in the library. The wood library shelves were left in the old library and are now being used for the Chinese – Korean collections. After Anna Hymes, Rev. Nick Wilson assumed the office as head librarian in 2009 – present. In 2009, the library was moved to its new building, occupying the basement and first floor of the ARC building. This major transfer was made with the help of some APTS staff, students, On-the Job Trainee’s and missionaries spearheaded by the head librarian and his three full time staff. Now, the library has a wider space for the collections, a wide reading area with sufficient tables and chairs, and a comfortable environment in which to study and do research. In 2011, Rev. Nick Wilson purchased an additional 12 computers, 5 for virtual computers, 3 OPAC computers, 1 at the circulation desk, and 3 for the staff.
As a practice, the library is managed by a missionary as head librarian/library coordinator. Past library staff are Magdalena G. Beaumont, Nina Alcain, BadetBaculong, Ellen Leonardo, Phoebe Navarete, YvonCanol Guzman and William Alcabedos. Present library staffs are Soling Sacbat, Ruvilyn Rimando and ChimineAtuban.
In its more than fifty year history, APTS has had a well equipped library with now more than 64,000 volumes, including print and media holdings, as well as subscriptions to many scholarly journals. Modern technology is available for student use including access to online journals via EBSCO, an online catalog system, wireless internet access (WIFI), computers for encoding, printing and internet use. The library is also equipped with air conditioners, fire alarms and generators for emergency use. A portion of the library is also set aside for children’s books to cater for missionary kids. Through the acquisition funds coming from BGMC, the library continues to purchase updated books to meet the curriculum requirements of the school. The old library is now occupied for the Chinese-Korean collections. Rev. Joe Liu and Rev. David Kang are in-charge of this section of the library. Day to day operation of the Chinese – Korean collections is being managed by the Chinese – Korean students. Another space of the old library is now used as archive. William Alcabedos is in charge of the archive and it is open every afternoon.