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Robert Benedetto, Director of the Graduate Theological Union’s Flora Lamson Hewlett Library, has been selected to receive Pittsburgh Theological Seminary’s 2013 Distinguished Alumnae/i Award for Excellence in Academia. Each year, PTS recognizes four graduates in Specialized Ministry, Pastoral Ministry, and Mission Ministry, in addition to the academy. He will attend and participate in events April 24-26 as part of this award.
Working in libraries for more than three decades, Benedetto has served as the GTU’s library director since 2006. He previously worked at Union Presbyterian Seminary in Virginia and Princeton Theological Seminary. He candidly, and insightfully, admits that being a library director is more about “shepherding” than reading the books we love. “We help guide libraries toward the future through behind-the-scenes administrative tasks and responsibilities. We also provide various forms of guidance and counseling to students.”
Benedetto views his work as a vocational calling, one he has been aware of since seminary. There are pastoral qualities to the position that often go unnoticed. For example, when faculty pass away and the library receives their collections, it is the job of the library director to bring the family comfort and to preserve their loved one's memory through the gift. Recently, the staff of the library was recognized by the family of Robert McAfee Brown for bringing such comfort.
Having published 30 articles and edited, authored, or contributed to 10 books, Benedetto is also a prolific academic. Early in his career, Benedetto struggled to balance the dual vocations of library and academic work. Since then, he has found an internal rhythm, allowing him to be more selective in his academic projects and devote more time to his family. Recent projects include serving as the general editor for The New Westminster Dictionary of Church History, vol. 1: The Early, Medieval, and Reformation Eras (Westminster John Knox Press, 2008) and co-authoring with Donald K. McKim, Historical Dictionary of the Reformed Churches, 2nd edition (Scarecrow Press, 2010). He is currently collaborating with Nancy J. Morris on Nā Kahu: Portraits of the Native Hawaiian Ministry, 1820-1900 (forthcoming).
Because he is used to being an “anonymous laborer”, this recognition comes as a surprise and an honor. Benedetto gratefully acknowledges the schools at which he has worked for their incalculable support over the years.