Self-Guided Tour - Wright Library

Self-Guided Tour


Welcome to Wright Library. This self-guided tour will acquaint you with key spaces in the building.

View the building directory (PDF)

Historical note

Wright Library is named after Theodore Sedgwick Wright, who claims a special place in Princeton Seminary history as the first African American to attend and graduate from the Seminary. Wright was ordained by the Presbytery of Albany on February 5, 1829. He was named pastor of the First Colored Presbyterian Church of New York City and served the congregation until his death in 1847. He and his congregation were active in the Underground Railroad. In addition, Wright served as an agent of the New England Anti-Slavery Society and worked with other anti-slavery organizations, traveling and lecturing in the cause along with such other well-known African American abolitionists as Frederick Douglass. In 1833, he became one of the founders of the American Anti-Slavery Society. By the time of his death in 1847, Wright was so well known and his work so well appreciated that his funeral procession through the streets of New York contained an estimated 6,000 people. (Excerpted from

Start the tour

The tour begins in the lobby, upon entrance to the building.

Immediately inside the front doors, turn right and enter the Brick Café.

First Floor (begin)

The Brick Café features café-style seating and serves as an informal gathering spot for the Princeton Seminary community, with large windows looking out on Mercer Street.

Eco note: The long table was fashioned out of trees felled from in front of the old Speer Library, and the small tables are inlaid with marble from the walls of Speer Library.

Exit the café and proceed straight ahead, noting the following features.

To the left of the gates going into the library, note the wall-mounted, digital signs featuring campus events and library information. In the glass display case, find a collection of the most recent faculty publications.

There is a slot on the outside of the building to the left of the entrance for returning books when the library is closed. When the library is open, please return materials at the Circulation Desk.

Down the hall and to the right are restrooms and a water bottle refilling station. (For additional restrooms — including private, all-gender restrooms — see #15 “Hallway” below.)

The Meeting Room and the Daniel J. Theron Assembly Room, like many of the public rooms in the library, can be reserved by members of the Princeton Seminary community through the campus-wide calendar system. These rooms are for meetings, continuing education events, and other events.

Historical note: The Theron Room is named for Daniel J. Theron, who was born in the Orange Free State, Union of South Africa. He came to Princeton Seminary, where he earned his doctorate in New Testament and served as a Teaching Fellow, Instructor and Assistant Professor in New Testament from 1946 until 1958. Theron established several endowments for church purposes, including scholarships for Black African theological students and church workers at four theological seminaries in the Republic of South Africa. He also donated the funds for this room.

Return to the lobby and pass through the gates, noting the Circulation Desk on the right.

The Circulation Desk is a primary service point for library assistance in the building. This is where patrons make general inquiries, check out books, and find desk reserves.

Just beyond the Circulation Desk, note the Copy Center and the New Books display area to your right.

Move through the Concourse toward the large green Reference sign, noting the following features as you pass them.

Display cases in the “drum” and along the far wall feature rotating exhibits. Columns support computer terminals for quick access to the library catalog and research databases. Low shelving features atlases, newspapers, and ready reference materials.

The Reference Desk is a great place to begin your research. You can expect to find help navigating the library’s extensive print and digital collections here.

Go through the glass doors to the right of the Reference Desk.

Art note: Princeton Seminary has a large and growing collection of art and artifacts. On your right, note the painting on the wall in the stairway. Presented to President Jonathan Lee Walton by the artist in 2023, Dancing with the Sun II is a large, oil-on-canvas diptych by artist, writer and curator Everlyn Nicodemus, who was an Artist in Residence at the Overseas Ministries Study Center in 2022-2023. Born in Tanzania and now living in the U.K., Nicodemus has been described as one of the strongest feminist voices to emerge from Eastern Africa in the past 30 years. The painting shows a tightly-knit group of female figures carrying another woman in an act of communal care. The figures seem entwined in an intimate dance, with some kicking up their heels. See also this profile and news article.

The Reference Reading Room is a major study space in the library. Note the work tables and soft seating, offering great study spots. The reference material shelving on the balcony level continues on the lower level.

Composed of nearly 10,000 volumes, the reference collection contains general tools frequently consulted in theological study: dictionaries, encyclopedias, directories, almanacs, atlases, and handbooks, along with a broad array of bibliographical resources. It also includes primary texts essential to the Christian tradition and a core collection of Biblical commentaries.

Turn around and exit through the glass doors. Move toward the balcony overlooking the atrium on the left.

Named for Sir Iain R. Torrance, Princeton Theological Seminary President from 2004 through 2012, the atrium serves as a study space and is used for a variety of Seminary-sponsored events throughout the year.

Take either the central staircase or the elevator (just past the staircase) down one level.

Lower Level (LL)

When exiting the elevator or stairs, go straight to reach the floor of the atrium.

Art note: Notice the sculpture featured in the Iain R. Torrance Atrium. The title of the stainless steel, aluminum, neon and oil paint work is “Unending Love,” and it was created by New York based Korean artist Hyong Nam Ahn. Its presence here was made possible through the generosity of Seminary Trustee Jinsoo Kim and Mrs. Kim.

Move toward the stone wall of the atrium and peer into the glass windows of the room located beneath the large Iain R. Torrance Atrium lettering. This is the Theodore Sedgwick Wright Room. (Entry is around the corner to your left.)

The Theodore Sedgwick Wright Room celebrates the life and ministry of the Rev. Theodore Sedgwick Wright (Class of 1828), who was the first African American to graduate from Princeton Theological Seminary.

Wright was ordained by the Presbytery of Albany on February 5, 1829. He was named pastor of the First Colored Presbyterian Church of New York City and served the congregation until his death in 1847. He and his congregation were active in the Underground Railroad. In addition, Wright served as an agent of the New England Anti-Slavery Society and worked with other anti-slavery organizations, traveling and lecturing in the cause along with such other well-known African American abolitionists as Frederick Douglass. In 1833, he became one of the founders of the American Anti-Slavery Society. By the time of his death in 1847, Wright was so well known and his work so well appreciated that his funeral procession through the streets of New York contained an estimated 6,000 people.

Read the report (also linked above) for more information.

Just past the Theodore Sedgwick Wright Room, occupying one side along the atrium floor, is the Help Desk for Information Technology Services.

(Room 0130) The IT Help Desk is here to answer questions about access to software, printing, email, etc.

Moving back to the atrium, note a series of glass fronted rooms overlooking the atrium.

(Rooms 0060, 1060, 2060, 3060) There are four seminar rooms in the building, one on each floor, “stacked” along one side of the atrium. These rooms feature document projectors and other tools, and are reserved through the Registrar.

  • Room 0060 is the Johnson Seminar Room
  • Room 1060 is the Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church Seminar Room
  • Room 2060 is the James A. Unruh Family Seminar Room

Now turn to the right to view a portion of the library’s collection.

The compact shelving on the Lower Level houses several important resources: Circulating Collection C–Z; “Reference 2” A–Z (secondary reference collection); Periodicals (current issues of journals, as well as past (bound) issues of all journals, are shelved by call number on the Lower Level); and Folios (all folios: reference, periodical, circulating).

Note: Current issues of selected print journals are shelved by title in the Periodicals Reading Room on the First Floor. (See #27 “Periodicals Reading Room” below.)

Why use compact shelving? The hand-crank compact shelving throughout the building makes maximum use of space, enabling the library to keep its entire collection on-site—a major benefit to researchers. Please check to make sure the rows are unoccupied before moving the shelves.

Take the elevator or stairs up two levels to the second floor.

Second Floor

When exiting the elevator or stairs, turn left and proceed to the end of the short hallway, then take an immediate left into a long hallway.

This hallway (and the parallel hallways on all floors) is home to two important spaces in the building: restrooms and, at the far end of the hallway, the official “Areas of Refuge.” The latter are safe places to wait for emergency personnel, if you are unable to exit the building during an emergency.

At the end of the hallway, turn left and proceed down another hallway. As you enter an open study area, note the additional restrooms.

These private, all-gender restrooms are located in this area on each floor of the building. Water fountains are also available in this area on each floor.

This open study area, known as the North Gallery, includes work desks and soft seating. To the left is the Lower Tree House, overlooking the atrium. (Similarly, the Upper Tree House is located directly above it on the third floor.)

At the end of the North Gallery, look right to see the entrance to Special Collections and Archives.

(Room 2173) Special Collections and Archives at Princeton Theological Seminary houses nearly 100,000 printed works and 6,000 linear feet of archival and manuscript material. Major collections include the Princeton Seminary archives, rare books and pamphlets dating to the 15th century, manuscripts dating to the 10th century, personal papers, records of organizations, theological research collections, and art and artifacts related to the history of the Presbyterian and Reformed traditions and ecumenical Christianity.

As you leave Special Collections, move slightly left and proceed straight across the bridge over the atrium. Exiting the bridge, note the computer workstations on your right.

Patrons with a Princeton Seminary network ID can use the workstations on these desks. The Lower Level and 3rd floor feature workstations in the same area. There are scanners on every floor. One printer is located in the Copy Center near the Circulation Desk, and another, in the library lobby.

Proceed straight. The Alumni Room is in front of you, past the desks.

(Room 2036) The Alumni Room is, for most of the year, an open study space available to alums as well as the rest of the Seminary community. Occasional alumni events or other meetings may take place in this room throughout the year.

Exiting the Alumni Room, turn right and continue about 15 feet before turning right again into the South Gallery.

The South Gallery is the largest open public space in the building, offering a variety of desks and soft seating options, two small group meeting rooms, and a seminar room in the center that is used for classes. The South Gallery offers a spectacular view across Mercer Street to the Seminary campus and ample window seating, perfect for reading and reflection.

Equipment for reading/scanning microform material is located at the large desk with the green Service sign.

Move through the South Gallery toward the railing overlooking the entrance lobby. The room at the far end of the South Gallery is the Korean Missions Room.

This room is available for open study. There may be times throughout the year when events are scheduled here.

Historical note: The Presbyterians have a long history in mission to Korea, and the Presbyterian tradition in Korea is a very strong one. This room is dedicated to the longstanding relationship between Princeton Seminary and Korean Christians.

Art note: This room features a portrait by Ewan McClure of Samuel Hugh Moffett (Class of 1942) and Eileen Flower Moffett (Class of 1955), who were Presbyterian missionaries to South Korea for over twenty-five years. Special Collections and Archives holds the Moffett Korea Collection, an important and substantial body of personal papers, photographs, books, and periodicals on Korea and Christianity in Korea. Large parts of that collection have been digitized (see

Continue through the Korean Missions Room and straight down the hallway to your left. Pass by the microform collection, as well as additional compact shelving holding Reigner Collection and Media materials.

The Christian Education Library, or Reigner Collection, holds materials for the practice and understanding of the educational ministry of the Church and is designed to provide a wide and current range of Christian formation resources.

With the microfilm collection on your left and the Reigner Collection shelving on your right, move straight down the hall, then turn left at the end of the compact shelving. Take the elevator or stairs up one level to the third floor.

Third Floor

Coming off the elevator or stairs, turn left down the short hallway, then take an immediate right and proceed down the hallway, with the compact shelving on your right. As the hallway ends, enter the double doors on the left to reach the entrance to the Women in Ministry Room.

(Room 3028) The Women in Ministry Room honors women associated with Princeton Seminary in varied capacities such as alumnae, faculty, administrators, trustees.

Eco Note: The small tables have marble inserts recycled from the walls of the old Speer Library.

As you exit, make a slight left through the double doors and proceed in a straight line down the hallway. As you move through the hallway, pass several rooms that are passkey protected, not publicly accessible, including the Faculty Room and Ph.D. Suite. Also note the multipurpose rooms along this wall.

These small group meeting rooms are available to be reserved by Princeton Seminary students.

At the end of the hallway, turn right, go past the stacks and carrels, and across the bridge overlooking the atrium. Move slightly left as you leave the bridge. Straight ahead is the Center for Barth Studies.

(Room 3173) The Center for Barth Studies sponsors conferences, research opportunities, and discussion groups, and includes a reading room containing publications related to the works of theologian Karl Barth (1886-1968).

After exiting the Center for Barth Studies, turn left and note the Digital Learning Lab on your left.

(Room 3132) The Digital Learning Lab, part of the Office of Digital Learning, is a space for study and collaboration. In addition to numerous study and work areas, there are five desktop stations with specialized software.

Continue straight, toward the water fountain and all-gender restrooms. Turn left and proceed to the end of the hall. Take the stairs (straight ahead) or the elevator (on your right) to the 1st floor.

First Floor (end)

As you move from the elevator or stairs toward the front of the building, to your right you will see journals arranged on display cases.

Current issues of selected print journals are shelved here in the Periodicals Reading Room. Accompanied by tables and soft seating, these journals are arranged alphabetically by title for ease of browsing. (For additional print journals, see also #14 “Compact Shelving” above.)

Move through the Periodicals Reading Room, turn left, and cross the bridge over the Iain R. Torrance Atrium to return to the Concourse.

Thank you

Thank you for visiting Wright Library. We hope to see you again soon!

Last updated April 29, 2024