A Message from Kyle Roberts
I am honored to start my tenure as the new Executive Director of the Congregational Library and Archives. The CLA’s twinned mission to foster a deeper understanding of the spiritual, intellectual, cultural, and civic dimensions of the 400+ year Congregational story and to convey its ongoing relevance to contemporary society is an exciting challenge. My sincere thanks to the CLA’s Board of Directors, staff, and supporters for putting their faith in me to lead the library into the future.
With a nearly 175-year history of collecting, preserving, and sharing materials, the CLA is a dynamic institution with many facets. It will take me some time to meet the library’s many supporters and to learn its rich collection of over 225,000 books, manuscripts, periodicals, and visual materials, but I am delighted to begin.
I come to the CLA with two commitments born of my experience as a public historian, digital humanist, and scholar of Atlantic World religion. The first is to engage with diverse communities who have traditionally found themselves on the margins of Congregationalism. Here I look to build on the impressive efforts of the staff and Board of Directors, especially around the NEH-funded New England’s Hidden Histories program. The second is to stimulate research and reflection on the core principles of Congregationalism within the American experience–of the ways in which people have learned to come together in community, to select their own leaders, and to speak truth to power. Never has heeding their lessons been more necessary.
Finally, I feel especially blessed to take the helm of the CLA following a multi-year, multi-million dollar renovation of its historic 14 Beacon Street address. The COVID-19 pandemic forced the reading room’s closure for a period of time and grounded the travel of many researchers and visitors. With that in mind, we are planning an open house for early November to show off the new spaces–and the refurbished older ones. More information will be forthcoming. I hope you will join us.