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CRRA Update Jan/Feb 2013

This month's update includes:

  • From the Board: Janice Welburn, chair, on Becoming a nonprofit federally tax-exempt corporation
  • Member News:  Villanova wins ACRL Excellence in Libraries Award!; Congratulations to Carol Johnson, Bob Skinner, and Stephanie Clark; CRRA in the Spotlight
  • Feature Article: Learning more about our collection through selecting materials for CRRA, by Lisa Gonzalez, Catholic Theological Union
  • Committee Updates:  From The Collections Committee on Updating the collection policy; the Digital Access Committee on EAD records, the website, and more; and the Newspapers Task Force on the List of Catholic Newspapers Online
  • Grant opportunities: CLIR Hidden Collections proposals due March 22, 2013
  • Upcoming events: The CRRA Annual Meeting (July 2)

Janice Welburn, Chair, Dean of Libraries, Marquette University

The Board held its third meeting of the 2012/13 year on February 25, 2013. Discussion continued on becoming a nonprofit federally tax-exempt corporation and I am pleased to report that we are on track to accomplish that this year. We appreciated the words of encouragement we received from individual directors, deans and committee members last year. It is a great pleasure to serve with you in advancing our mission of providing global enduring access to Catholic research resources in the Americas.


Congratulations to Villanova University! - VU Wins ACRL Excellence in Libraries Award
Shout out to Villanova: Congratulations to Library Director Joe Lucia and the Falvey staff for having your outstanding efforts recognized by being named a 2013 ACRL Excellence in Academic Libraries Award winner! Read more.

Thank you and congratulations to Carol Johnson, Bob Skinner and Stephanie Clark
We thank and congratulate Carol Johnson, St. Catherine University (St. Kate’s), and  Bob Skinner, Xavier University of New Orleans, who recently retired from outstanding careers in library administration. We thank and congratulate Stephanie Clark who rekindled her love for public libraries with a move from Georgetown University to Arlington Public Library.  They were great friends and leaders in developing CRRA collections and programs, and we wish them all the best.

CRRA in the spotlight!
Thanks to Scott Walter, University Librarian, DePaul University, for showcasing the CRRA Symposium Nurturing the ‘Spirit of Perfect Charity’: Libraries and Archives at the Intersection of Service and Scholarship in Catholic Social Justice Studies in the January 2013 issue of College & Research Libraries news.  DePaul University hosted the symposium which brought together nearly 100 scholars, librarians and archivists for informative and lively discussions.  Read more.

Learning more about our collection through selecting materials for CRRA
Lisa Gonzalez, Electronic Resources Librarian at Catholic Theological Union (CTU)

So what is rare, unique and uncommon about the collection at Paul Bechtold Library? Since I joined the library, I’ve written several blurbs about our collection to promote our library on our blog and on other places on the internet, so I drew on some of these statements to guide our selections for the Catholic Portal. One thing the statements on our website, our Internet Archive page, various blog postings, and even some library exhibits have in common was our focus on religious orders.

[To view CTU records in the Portal please see:[]=institution%3A%22Catholic+Theological+Union%22&view=list]

Thanks to a happy coincidence, we had a trial to WorldCat Collection Analysis in 2011, about the same time as we joined CRRA. I used it to search for items on monasticism that were owned by five libraries or fewer; I was able to identify more than 3,000 items through this process. I added the records from the search to a spreadsheet, to which I continue to add records that fit our other selection criteria. This includes items from our largest collections about religious orders, including the Franciscans and the Passionists.

Digitized items are also included in our CRRA collection, in order to increase access to full text Catholic materials. Once an item is digitized through the state of Illinois’ CARLI book digitization program, a link is added to the local record for the item, and that record is included in our CRRA records. [For example, The Passionist: bulletin of Holy Cross providence]

The records selected for CRRA can reveal information about our collection when viewed as a group through the Catholic Portal. We already knew we had a strong collection on religious orders, but the browse function of the Portal highlights our collection of rules and constitutions from many of them. [[]=institution%3A%22Catholic+Theological+Union%22&filter[]=genre_facet%3A%22Rules%22&view=list]

I’ve also begun using the Portal to help select potential candidates for digitization; one criteria for digitization is that the item is not available in a mass digitization project, and links to Google and Open Library in the Portal make it easy to see items that are already digitized. Reviewing our records in the Portal can also help me identify themes for potential digitization proposals, since a theme is necessary for CARLI proposals. In the future, we plan to propose more digitization projects focused on men’s religious orders as well as on Catholic publishing in the United States, and we plan to add these records to our Catholic Portal collection.


Diane Maher, Chair

Catholic Portal Collection Policy Statement: Under Construction
The Collection Committee is in the process of updating the Portal’s collection policy statement. This revision seeks to enhance the document’s usability for members. Collecting themes have been defined and the committee is now assigning subject heading examples for each theme. Guidelines for contributing published print materials will also be added to help clarify the decision making process for members. This is the first revision since the document was created at CRRA’s inception. It is a tribute to the policy’s statement that its original recommendations remain vital to the Portal’s collection development.

Demian Katz, Chair

The membership of the Digital Access Committee has changed over the past months, with the departure of Michael Bramah (St. Mike's, University of Toronto) and Vani Murthy (Georgetown) and the addition of three new members: Tracy Jackson (Seton Hall), Shana McDanold (Georgetown) and Megan Bernal (DePaul).  We thank Michael and Vani for their good service and wise counsel. It has been a joy to work with you.  More information on the current members of the committee can be found here.

DAC has been focusing for the past few months on improving CRRA's web presence by rebuilding the site using the open source Concrete5 content management system.  The new web design, which was recently unveiled, combines more complete information about CRRA with a more attractive visual presentation.  The Concrete5 system makes updating the site and collaborating on changes easy, so the site will be able to evolve to meet the organization's changing needs over time, and interested members can collaborate with DAC to facilitate updates.

Another ongoing project has been improving the representation of EAD finding aids in the Catholic Portal.  An improved indexing routine was recently implemented which should make archival material more usable within the Portal.  Read more.

Over the coming year, DAC plans to continue improving the website, expand Portal content and links to digital content held by members in other repositories, and investigate new technologies that can support the mission of CRRA.

Noel McFerran, Chair

The Task Force is happy to announce the “List of Catholic Newspapers Online.”   Thanks to individuals and institutions across North America, the list now includes some 40 titles with links to digitized or born-digital Catholic newspapers in the US and Canada.  For example,

Arkansas Catholic, formerly The Southern Guardian/The Guardian (Little Rock, AR)
1911 - 1926, 1945 (1927 - 1931 soon to be added)

The Catholic (Kingston, ON)
1830 – 1844 (missing some issues)

The Catholic Commentator - Diocese of Baton Rouge (Louisiana)
The newspaper for the Diocese of Baton Rouge is The Catholic Commentator.  The first issue was published February 8, 1963.  It was published weekly until March of 1984; since then new issues have been published every other week.  Physical copies of the newspaper are held by both the Archives Department and The Catholic Commentator, which are both located in the administration offices of the diocese in Baton Rouge, LA.  Digital copies of the Commentator from 2007 forward are available on their website:

The CRRA continues its work to provide access to all extant Catholic newspapers in North America through building a directory of North American Catholic newspapers and encouraging digitization of Catholic newspapers; The Online List furthers this goal by providing immediate value and use.

Please help us to populate this list!  If you know of Catholic newspapers that are available in digital form that are not yet on our list, kindly pass it on. More on how you can help.

Hidden Collections Application Period Opens: The application period for the 2013 Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives program is now open. Applications are due March 22, 2013. For more information, visit:  If interested but not able to apply this year, consider using the guidelines to start developing a proposal for next year. Please feel free to call on Pat or Jennifer if you would like help in finding other CRRA members who might be interested in developing a shared proposal with you. Marquette, Catholic and St. Catherine point to their shared project as one factor in their successful application.


We will hold our CRRA All Member Meeting on Tuesday morning, July 2, 2013 in Chicago.  Details will be posted here and to the CRRA News and Events page as they become available.

CRRA Update is an electronic newsletter distributed via email to provide members with an update of CRRA activities.  Please contact Pat at 574.631.1324 or email [email protected] with your questions, comments, or news to share.


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