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CRRA Update Sept/Oct 2011

CRRA Update
September/October 2011

In this update …

Please mark your calendars to join in the discussion on Jan. 6, 2012:

“Building a Catholic Archival Network”
American Catholic Historical Association (ACHA) Annual Conference (Chicago)

Highlights from the CRRA Board of Directors
Janice Welburn, chair, led the Board in its first meeting on September 20, 2011.  The Board welcomed its new members and addressed topics relating to support and activities for this year.  It unanimously approved the CRRA Strategic Plan_2011-12_final.pdf , the FY2011/12 budget and the establishment of a task force on enhancing access to Catholic newspapers (see announcement below). In approving the goals in the strategic plan for this year, the Board made one change to lower the target for recruiting new members from the Catholic college and university community to fifteen (from fifty).  We believe this change will allow us to recruit in a manageable yet vigorous manner.  The agenda is accessible in the Board folder in the admin area. After the Board approves the minutes, they will also be made accessible in the admin area.

Most importantly, the Board expresses its admiration and appreciation for the work of all CRRA members who participated in the development of the goals for this year, to the committees for their recommendation for a task force on enhancing access to and digitization of Catholic newspapers, and especially to the committee chairs for their proactive leadership on issues that make a positive difference. The Board is very pleased to see the growth in content on the portal and thanks all members for contributing making this possible.  In mid-December, the Board will hold a workshop and meeting at The Catholic University of America. As always, we welcome your questions, comments or suggestions.

With best regards from the Board,

Jennifer Younger, Executive Director

 Request for Member Feedback: Letter from the Five-Year Strategic Planning Task Force Chair, Lorraine Olley

 As a new member of CRRA, I feel honored to be chairing this task force and working with a group of talented thought leaders from among our members.  At our first meeting, task force members identified a number of key questions and issues for discussion about what we – the CRRA – want to be in five years.  Content and community are central pillars in our vision and mission.

The Strategic Planning Task Force has an ambitious timeline, and we need your help. We want to hear from you this fall. We want to know what excites you about our mission.  What can we do working together to support Catholic scholarship?  What is your vision for the CRRA?  In November, we will write to invite you to send us your ideas.  We will incorporate your ideas into a planning document that will be put before the Board in early December and subsequently, to the membership.  Our intent is to develop a plan for action for the next five years, one we can recommend to the Board for consideration in March 2012.

But please do not wait for the invitation to send ideas.  Feel free to contact me or any member of the Task Force – we are listed on the Contact page:  We look forward to hearing from you.

Lorraine Olley, Chair
University of Saint Mary at the Lake/Mundelein Seminary

The Catholic Newspapers Task Force  

The Board is pleased to act on the recommendations from its members and committees to set up a task force to develop a plan for enhancing access to and expanding the digitization of Catholic newspapers as a means of reaching Goal 1.4 in the Strategic Plan.  The basic charge of the Catholic Newspapers Task Force is to develop the scope and framework for a CRRA project to increase digital content in the portal focused on Catholic newspapers.  As we will seek external funding for the project, the Task Force is drafting a 2-3 page prospectus on the value proposition and proposed scope of activities for submission this fall.

Task Force members include:

Cait Kokolus, St. Charles Borromeo
Noel McFerran University of St. Michaels College in the University of Toronto, Chair
Darren Poley, Villanova University
Malachy  McCarthy, Catholic Library Association
Tim Meagher, Catholic University
Susan Ohmer, University of Notre Dame
Steven Szegedi, Dominican University
Jennifer Younger, Executive Director, ex-officio
Pat Lawton, Digital Projects Librarian, ex-officio

We are happy to note that Noel McFerran, member of the CRRA Collections Committee, has agreed to serve as the task force chair.  Noel brings to the committee knowledge of Catholic newspapers and expertise in digitization projects. We welcome Noel’s leadership and the expertise of all members as we navigate this and other challenges along the way.  You are most welcome to send suggestions and comments to any member of the task force which is listed on the Contact page.

With gratitude for their service from the Board,

Jennifer Younger
Executive Director

Collections Committee Members Highlight Collections via the Update

Under the leadership of committee chair Matt Blessing, the Collections Committee will publish a series of articles in support of CRRA goal 1.3 to increase member awareness of collection scope and themes.

Beginning with this Update, committee members will contribute articles highlighting portal materials, collections, and processes. Please join me in thanking the committee for their contributions to the CRRA, we look forward to learning more about our members’ collections.

Following is the list of topics outlined by the committee.

October 2011 – University of Notre Dame’s Catholic pamphlets collection

November 2011 – Marquette's Catholic Social Action audio recordings & CRRA/CLIR grant

December 2011 – Georgetown’s Lives of Women Saints Collection

January 2012 – The Liturgy and Life Collection at the Burns Library (Boston College)

February 2012 – University of San Diego’s Thomas More Collection

March 2012 – Marquette’s Tolkien Collection

The Catholic Pamphlets Digitization Project at the University of Notre Dame

The Catholic Americana collections at the University of Notre Dame have been cultivated for many years and have great strengths in genres such as Catholic pamphlets, Catholic newspapers, and parish histories, as well as a considerable array of popular and academic books relating to American Catholic history and life. Our first foray into digitization of Catholic Americana has involved our Catholic Pamphlet collection. The Catholic pamphlets number more than 5000, range in publication date from the late nineteenth century through the present, and have all been individually cataloged. The collection includes pamphlets on topics such as saints’ lives, devotions, points of doctrine, commentary on social issues (e.g., Peace, war and the Christian conscience, 1969); there are also anti-Catholic tracts, pamphlets urging saintly causes, and didactic works aimed at young people (e.g., Shall I marry a non-Catholic?, 1946).

A broad and diverse group of users, from students to scholars, have shown considerable interest in the print collection over the years, and this prompted us to think of Catholic Pamphlets first when deciding what to digitize. In the past year, we’ve carried out a pilot project to develop a workflow, and along the way have digitized approximately 400 pamphlet titles in-house. We’re also carefully exploring the copyright status of the individual pamphlets, and noting the status in the metadata for each pamphlet. Pamphlets in the public domain will be made freely available through the Catholic Portal. Our pilot project has also made text mining and analysis tools available for the digitized pamphlets in the Catholic Portal. This array of concordance tools allows the user to search the text in a variety of ways (for example, searching word pairs, displaying results within context), and eventually will facilitate text mining across a user-selected group of texts. We look forward to reporting back on the project soon.

Jean McManus
Catholic Studies Librarian, University of Notre Dame
Chair, CRRA Scholars Advisory Committee

If you are curious about how to browse and make your Catholic pamphlets available for easy retrieval, please see:

Usability Studies: Update from the Digital Access Committee

Three member institutions, including Marquette, Seton Hall, and Villanova have completed Portal usability studies at their institutions and submitted their findings.

Although the intent of the usability studies is to identify problems and look for suggested improvements to using the Portal, we are happy to report that participants had good things to say about their Portal experience.   Seton Hall researchers note, “All three scholars were enthusiastic about the Catholic Portal as a concept and could see the value of a site limited to rare Catholica. They also enjoyed searching for their own subject areas of expertise and quickly found materials.”  Marquette reports that participants “Liked the simple, Google-style search box, the ability to limit searches by language, use of facets, similar items suggestions, the map of CRRA participants, and that they “Would have benefitted from this site had it existed when subject was in graduate school.”

Congratulations to our Digital Access Committee members for continuing good work on the usability studies. For more information about the usability studies, please see:

Full reports on usability results conducted to date are available at:

Advancing Catholic Scholarly Research: A Symposium at Duquesne University
November 9-10, 2011

As the date draws near, we are delighted to note the rich and diverse number of participants, including librarians, archivists, historians, graduate students and directors.  While some are members of CRRA, many are not. The symposium is both a forum for learning about trends in Catholic scholarly research as well as an effective means of engaging with institutions about the CRRA.  There are participants from over thirty institutions including Belmont Abbey College, Benedictine University, Claretian Missionaries Archives U.S.A., Sisters of Joseph Archives, and the University of Pittsburgh. Other professional associations are also participating – the American Theological Library Association (ATLA), the Catholic Library Association (CLA), and the Association of Catholic Diocesan Archivists (ACDA).  We are grateful to Duquesne University for its generous financial support and desire to enable broad participation.

For more information, please see:

Please mark your calendars … for a roundtable discussion on Building a Catholic Archival Network at the American Catholic Historical Association (ACHA) meeting in Chicago on Friday, January 6, 2012 from 9:30-11:30 a.m. at the Chicago Downtown Marriott, Northwestern Room. This topic is of vital importance to many of us and we invite you to join in as participants present their vantage points to realizing a network of Catholic archival resources.  Please join us.

Speakers will include:

Emilie Gagnet Lumis [Archdiocese of New Orleans, [email protected]]
Patricia A. Lawton [Catholic Research Resources Alliance, [email protected]]
Ellen D. Pierce [Maryknoll Mission Archives; [email protected]]
Chair: Robert E. Carbonneau [Passionist Historical Archives, NJ; [email protected]]

Thank you, Malachy McCarthy, for organizing this roundtable discussion! We look forward to seeing you in Chicago.

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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