The Bishop Payne Library is located on the campus of the Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, Virginia. The library serves seminary students and their families, faculty and staff, as well as local clergy and Christian educators, students and faculty of the Washington Theological Consortium and VTS alumni. The Library holds over 250,000 volumes and provides access to 300,000 ebook titles and 2,000 periodicals and is also home to the Seminary Archives and the African-American Episcopal Historical Collection. As the research center on campus, the library’s mission is to provide patrons with research assistance in utilizing the library’s rich collections.

The Bishop Payne Library staff includes four professional librarians, two archivists, and support staff to assist patrons in their research. Reference assistance is available to faculty, staff, students, and the general public upon request. It is the policy of the Library to provide all patrons with professional, equitable, and courteous reference assistance.

The book drop is located outside, in front of the library building. Please return all books there.

The library building is closed to members of the general public. The general public are encouraged to make use of the Alexandria Public Library System.

The Bishop Payne Library building is open to:

  • VTS Community

Members of the VTS Community automatically have borrowing privileges and may obtain a library card at the library circulation desk. Students, student & faculty spouses/partners, staff, Board of Trustees members, and students enrolled in classes through Lifelong Learning may borrow books from the circulating collection for a four-week period. Faculty members may borrow circulating materials until the end of the academic year, subject to recall if needed by another member of the VTS Community. Adjunct instructors may borrow circulating materials until the end of the semester, subject to recall if needed by another member of the VTS Community. Members of the VTS Community have access to all of the resources of the Bishop Payne Library, whether on campus or at a distance.

  • VTS Contextual Ministry supervisors
  • VTS Faculty Emeriti
  • VTS Alumni

    The library building is open to all VTS alumni. One of the privileges of your degree from VTS is life-time borrowing privileges at the Bishop Payne Library. Alumni may request to have print books shipped to their home or work address in the United States. The Bishop Payne Library will pay for outgoing shipping costs via UPS, and alumni are responsible for return shipping costs. Please note that items may be recalled for use by another member of the VTS community, and may require prompt return.

    The library is not able to place holds or borrow items from other libraries via interlibrary loan (ILL) for alumni.

  • Local Clergy

Local clergy new to the library will be required to apply for borrowing privileges at their first visit. Those who have previously held borrowing privileges with the library may visit the library to apply for renewal of privileges. Clergy must sign-in at the circulation desk at the beginning of each visit.

Contact us at or 703.461.1733 to obtain or renew library privileges.

  • Private Researchers

Visiting researchers must make an appointment to visit the library, upon each separate visit. Fill out the Visiting Researcher Appointment Request to submit a visit request form, including information about your project and use of the BPL collections. A library staff member will reply to your request.

Contact us at or 703.461.1733 for further information.

Group study room and carrels are for the use of the seminary community only. Please contact us at t 703.461.1733 or for assistance.

While on campus, a student may request items that are not owned by the Bishop Payne Library through InterLibrary Loan – ILL. These items must be used within the library while the student is in residence. Due to the nature of the ILL system, books are loaned from one library to another. Therefore, the borrowed items cannot be mailed to a third party.

If you need assistance in obtaining materials via ILL, please contact the library at

Remote access is limited to current students, staff, faculty, and Board of Trustees. When off-campus, users will need to authenticate as a library patron. When you click through to view an e-book, e-journal article, or a database requiring authentication, you will be prompted to sign-in. You will need to enter your library barcode (example: BVTS 0000000000 - include the first four letters of the barcode). You will only need to do this once per browsing session.

Prior to graduating, all masters and doctoral students must email a PDF copy of their thesis or dissertation to the Bishop Payne Library. Include your name, phone number, title, degree, and degree year. In addition, we ask that students allow the library to post their dissertation or thesis on the Bishop Payne Library’s Omeka Digital Archive (ODA) for unlimited digital access and downloads. To be included in the ODA fill out and and sign the Non-Exclusive Thesis Distribution License and attach it to your email when sending your thesis or dissertation.

The library uses Thesis On Demand to process and bind print copies of theses and dissertations for its collection. Masters and doctoral students who would like to have bound personal copies can use TOD or a thesis binding service of their choice. All theses and dissertations are bound and placed in the library’s collection and bibliographic records are added to the library’s online catalog.

Please contact the library if you have any questions.


Non-Exclusive Thesis Distribution License
Omeka Digital Archive (ODA)
Thesis On Demand

The library building is open to Washington Theological Consortium patrons. WTC students who are enrolled in VTS courses will have in-person access to the library building as well as electronic/online access to all course resources for the duration of the course. Please contact us at t 703.461.1733 or for further assistance.

The library is not able to place holds or borrow items from other libraries via interlibrary loan (ILL) for WTC patrons.



For general reference:  or 703.461.1733

Mailing Address:

Bishop Payne Library
Virginia Theological Seminary
3737 Seminary Road
Alexandria, VA 22304

Hours and Location