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Getting Started: Doctoral Students

A guide to library services for students in the VTS Doctoral programs.

E-Resources Overview


VTS Library Catalog > is the entry point for finding books and e-books within the Bishop Payne Library's collection. Use this search box to locate physical materials in the library or to discover e-books on any topic. Results include information on where to find resources within the library or links to access e-books.



ATLA > is the primary source for journal articles in religion. Use this to locate e-journal articles on theology, biblical studies, ministry, and religious studies. Results will include PDF full-text download links or links to the VTS "full-text finder" service for information on how to access.

Browzine > provides an easy way to browse journal issues as if you were perusing the current periodicals shelves in the library. The service is a virtual shelf with links to full-text articles. It's best to use this tool when keeping up-to-date with research in major journals.


Everything: Combined Discovery Service

EBSCO Discovery > is a combined search tool for books, e-books, articles, and other materials through a single portal. Use this search option to locate all kinds of resources, or to find materials outside the disciplines of religion. Students with an interdisciplinary research project should use this tool.


Other Databases & E-Resources

VTS Theses > are available in print format at the Bishop Payne Library. E-versions are collected, where author permission has been given, in an open-access repository.

Oxford Bibliographies (Biblical Studies) > is a bibliographic tool for discovering key primary and secondary texts on books of the Bible or topics in Biblical studies.

Oxford African American Studies Center > is an online encyclopedia for African American studies.

JSTOR Religion and Arts & Sciences III > indexes journals in religion, literature, art, and architecture among other subjects.

ERIC > is a database from the U.S. Dept. of Education for research in education.

PsychArticles > is a database for psychology articles from the American Psychological Association.

Atla Websites on Religion > collects open-access resources within religious studies, including free tools for scripture study.

All E-Resources >


Special Collections

Rare Books > in the Special Collections & Rare Books department of the library are discoverable in the VTS Library Catalog. Limit your search to "rare books."

Archives > are open for research into the history of the Virginia Theological Seminary. Email for more information.

African American Episcopal Historical Collection > documents the history and heritage of African Americans in the Episcopal Church. Email for more information.

FAQ: E-Resources & Catalog

How do I access the library's electronic resources?

All of the library's e-resources can be found through our catalog, This is the library's home page; from there, you can search for books or articles and find links to additional guides. In the main catalog search box, there is an option to limit your results by "electronic only." 

Once you find the resource you want, click on it. On the resource's page below the title information, there will be a series of links "click on the following to:" Use the link that says "read or download" and you'll be taken to a vendor-specific page to access the resource. From there, you can read the resource online, or download portions to PDF. 



Do I need to log-in or authenticate to access resources?

Yes. When you are off-campus, you need to authenticate as a library patron. When you click through to view an e-book or e-journal article, the system will automatically prompt you to authenticate. On this page, you'll need to enter your last name and library barcode. You'll only need to do this once per browsing session.


For an in-depth guide to remote access, visit:

What are the differences between the 3 catalog search boxes?

The library catalog has 3 main entry-points at The Main Catalog, the ATLA Religion Database, and the EBSCO Discovery Service. While these often overlap, each search method has unique features.

  • Main Catalog: This is the main entry point. Use this search box when doing basic searches for *books* in the library's collection (optionally limit to "electronic-only"). The search will default to "keyword" searching - if you type in an author, defined subject, or title, you'll get good results. This method is helpful when you think the library has the type of resource you're looking for.


  • ATLA Religion Database: This database is the primary index for journal articles, reviews, and essays in religion. Use this search box to look for journal articles on a particular topic (e-versions will link in search results). Like the main catalog, this search method defaults to "keyword" which means you can type in an author, title, journal, or subject to get results.


  • EBSCO Discovery Service: This search box allows you to cast the widest net. It includes print and electronic books as well as journal articles. But, to use it effectively, you have to be more specific in your search relative to the other search boxes. Use this method of searching when you're looking for specific phrases, authors, citations, or articles on narrowly defined topics. The features in the search options allow you the most customizability in your searches: limit by many criteria in the left-hand menu bar. Remember to be specific with search terms here, otherwise, you will get too many results to sift through.


How do I download articles or book chapters?

Different vendors provide resources to the BPL collection, so the process is slightly different depending on how you access resources. To download pages, you'll need to click through on the resource you're looking for. Look for this button: undefined

  • For books, you'll have the option to download chapters via PDF. Normally, this is the easiest way to download resources. Some resources will give you the option to do a "full download" which is different and requires additional e-reader software. Most books will only let you download a set number of pages due to publisher restrictions, usually a couple of chapters at a time.
  • For articles, it's much easier to simply download to PDF. Click on variations of "PDF Full Text" to access.

For in-depth instructions on downloading resources, visit

Renewing Books

Students may self-renew books up to 4 separate times using the library's "My Account" feature. Instructions below:

1. Login to your library account by clicking on "My Account" on the top menu bar.

2. Enter in your last name and library barcode (found on the back of your VTS ID card)

3. Click on the "Currently Checked Out" tab to view a list of the books you have checked out

4. Check the boxes of individual books or select "Renew All" to renew your books. The new due-date will appear.

You may also renew your books by emailing, or by calling the library during our open hours (703) 461-1733.