More Than Just Books

by Sarah Cushing - Office of Marketing | Mar 04, 2016
James Darlack '99
Jim Darlack '99

In the late ’90s, a small group of male students at the University of Valley Forge (UVF) met before class at 6 a.m. almost every day to pray, worship, study the Bible and intentionally ask each other, “How are you?” James Darlack ’99 was one of those students. “We were a group of guys on campus who were interested in discipleship,” Darlack said. “I learned to pray with those guys and uphold one another.” More than 15 years later, in his position as Goddard Library’s director at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Hamilton, Massachusetts, Darlack continues to uphold others as they prepare for future ministry.  

UVF integrates faith into the classroom by offering students more than the knowledge and training necessary to pursue their desired career; it offers students the opportunity to learn more about God and grow in their faith. Darlack graduated from UVF with a Bachelor of Religious Education in Christian Education and a Bachelor of Science in Bible with an emphasis in Pastoral Ministry. He recalled how educators such as former Professor Donald Tucker, Ph.D., and Professor Bruce Marino, Ph.D., greatly influenced how he approached his education. “They showed me you can be intellectually rigorous, believe in scripture and still long to have a relationship with God.”

Darlack recalled spending a lot of time in Marino’s office while discussing theology and biblical hermeneutics. Marino was sure to make time for his students and was committed to getting to know them. “His class started a passion for biblical studies in my life,” Darlack said. Marino introduced him to Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he attended after graduation and received master’s degrees in the Old Testament and New Testament. As a seminary student, Darlack started work at the Goddard Library as a paraprofessional. The Goddard Library serves the seminary’s main campus in South Hamilton, Massachusetts. Later, Darlack received his Master of Science of Library and Information Science from Drexel University and became the associate director at the Goddard Library.

Last summer, Darlack was promoted to director at the Goddard Library. As director, he serves the seminary community along with his fellow colleagues, helps students with research, and also performs administrative tasks. Through the day-to-day tasks, Darlack notices the time that students dedicate to research, and the time that librarians dedicate to help them, as part of a larger picture. As Darlack sees it, the greater purpose is that the subjects, information and practices the students gather will develop and shape their future congregation or ministry. “We all see it as being more than just books,” he said. 

Darlack remembered one African student in particular who came to the library for reference help. He helped him find resources about providing therapy to traumatized children. Later, he found out that the student went on to become a counselor and work with children soldiers in Africa. “Although it feels like a small thing, helping somebody with an assignment ultimately pays off in the long run and has greater impact than anything I could be doing on my own,” said Darlack. “It’s about furthering God's kingdom by preparing women and men for their future ministries as pastors, missionaries and church leaders.”