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CRRA Update Nov/Dec 2012


Last year, we adopted an inspiring vision describing what we want to achieve and an ambitious, actionable plan for getting there.  In this context, members, committees and the Board develop an annual strategic plan. The Board met on December 12, 2012 at Lauinger Library, Georgetown University. Committee chairs joined us for a discussion of goals and current activities for this year, which we all agreed was informative and helpful in creating a broad understanding of how the goals and activities of each group fit into the overall directions. 

Our vision:  The CRRA will foster a dynamic scholarly community by: creating the freely available portal to Catholic research resources in the Americas; sustaining the distinctive network of libraries, archives and other institutions that enable the vision; and facilitating internationally the sharing of resources and scholarship.

The Board continues its work too in expanding our capacity for mission and program support. While member dues will always be a major source of revenue, the Five Year Strategic Planning Task Force and the Board recognized the need for additional sources of revenue. We need to position CRRA to seek grants and gifts from government agencies, granting foundations and philanthropic organizations, most of which will award money only to organizations with 501(c)(3) status from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. Becoming a nonprofit, tax-exempt corporation will assist us in developing sustainable mission support. We will keep you informed of further developments.

This is an exciting time in the life of our still new Alliance. We are growing in the right ways –new members, curated collections, direct access to more content, and an emphasis on use.  We achieve our mission only through the participation of members. Please write or call any Board member for more information.  On behalf of the Board, thank you for your continuing commitment to our shared vision.

CRRA Collections Spotlight: Exploring Special Collections through Engagement with Scholars,
by Lorraine Olley

The University of Saint Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary Library holds a treasure trove of rare, eclectic and unusual materials, from an original survey drawn and signed by George Washington to an original Marc Chagall drawing in a book the artist dedicated to an alumnus. One of the challenges here is the lack of provenance for much of the special collections. (Where did we get that buckskin chasuble from, anyway?) It’s been vitally important to forge relationships with scholars who have the interest and expertise to decipher and document some of the collection’s mysteries.

One such fruitful partnership focuses on a collection of choir books--large antiphonals and kyriales written or stenciled on vellum and paper; bound in wooden boards, either bare with brass bossings, or covered in vellum; in various styles of script. The Library had no documentation at all about these intriguing tomes. I had gathered and shelved these seven volumes, but had not been able to investigate them any further.

Then Father John-Mark Missio, a choirmaster specializing in Gregorian chant, arrived to study at the Liturgical Institute. He had come to the library to see a set of four single leaves of illuminated manuscript pages in the Rare Book collection. After he perused them, I asked if he wanted to see the antiphonals. It was thrilling for me to watch as he opened one and began to intone the melody written there centuries ago. He was hooked.

Two years later, through Father John-Mark’s independent efforts, we now know much more than we had hoped. The eight choir books date from the 15th through 18th centuries. Most are Italian; at least one is Spanish. Two have text that was created using stencils, rather than free-form writing. And one has a few pages of music signed by Bernardo Pasquini, a noted 17th-century Italian composer. The culmination of Father’s work is a handsome booklet with descriptions and illustrations of the entire collection. Father John-Mark is continuing to investigate the Pasquini composition, to ascertain if it is a newly-discovered piece.

Lorraine Olley, Library Director
Feehan Memorial Library and McEssy Theological Resource Center
University of Saint Mary of the Lake.   Mundelein, IL
Member, CRRA Collections Committee

From the Membership Committee
Evelyn Minick, Chair

The Membership Committee set its goals primarily to work on Direction 5 of the Annual Plan: Securing the future: developing and assessing a sustainable basis for carrying out our mission).  Recognizing that a strong value proposition for members is the foundation for membership, our work begins with attention to understanding member benefits, expectations and responsibilities, and with this in mind, developing membership growth strategies. We will explore the existing extent of ILL reciprocity among members and explore ways in which related institutions might participate as part of a group.

This year, we also want to recruit eight new members to strengthen our membership alliance. Recruiting new members with collections and the capacity to enable discovery on a continuing basis is important to growing the value of the Catholic portal to scholars.  We have engaged a number of librarians and archivists supportive of our mission and asked the Collections Committee for assistance in identifying collections of particular interest to the portal.  We welcome your suggestions too.  Please feel free to contact any member of the Membership Committee.

From the Catholic Newspapers Task Force
Noel McFerran, Chair

The fall 2012 CRRA Symposium held at DePaul University provided a great opportunity to share a progress report on the Catholic Newspapers Program with members, prospective members, and friends. Several Task Force members attended, including Steven Szegedi, Dominican; Jean McManus and Susan Ohmer, Notre Dame; Amy Cary, Marquette; Malachy McCarthy, Catholic Library Association, and Pat Lawton, CRRA.  Participants agreed the goals are solid and we are on the right track. They encouraged us to expand current efforts and voiced their readiness to contribute records and holdings to support development of a freely available newspaper directory.

Since then, we have identified three next steps. They are:

  1. Identify and post to the CRRA website, for immediate use, a list of North American Catholic newspapers already available in digital form, including born-digital and/or digitized versions, for example:

 The Catholic Register (Toronto)

The Pittsburgh Catholic
Archdiocese of Pittsburgh
March 16, 1844-March 7, 1957

Sacred Heart Review (East Cambridge, Mass.)

The Review was a newspaper published in Cambridge and Boston between 1888-1918. Not merely a church bulletin, the Review contained sections dealing with local, national and international news, and had a nation-wide subscriber base. It is important for its reporting of the Catholic Church in general and the Church in New England in particular; its pieces that explicate and defend Catholicism; and its advertisements. The entire 60-volume run is available online and is in the public domain. The online version was made possible, in part, by the John and Ruth Galvin Endowed Fund for the Boston Collection at the John J. Burns Library.

2.  Determine the Directory platform (application and software) for storing the directory metadata and making it available to users.

3.  Conduct a survey of member holdings.

Work is already underway. In a summer pilot project, 800+ titles were identified.  Titles will be added on an ongoing basis and once the directory platform is established, the data describing the titles will be put into the directory.  We expect to conduct the member survey in spring 2013, which will increase member holdings in the directory and reveal hidden niche collections of Catholic newspapers.  At the same time, the Task Force will continue to encourage individual and collaborative projects to digitize North American Catholic newspapers and make them readily and freely available via the directory. Our goal is to create a comprehensive, fully searchable directory of North American Catholic newspapers and provide access to those newspapers. Please contact any member of the Catholic Newspaper Task Force with suggestions or questions.

Upcoming Events

We will hold the CRRA All Member Meeting on Tuesday morning, July 2, 2013 in Chicago (held in conjunction with ALA).  Details will be posted here and to the CRRA News and Events page as available.

  Might be of interest ...

2013 ACHA Annual Meeting in New Orleans  January 3-6, 2013

The 93rd Annual Meeting of the American Catholic Historical Association will be held in New Orleans from January 3-6.

More info:

Of particular interest:
Writing the History of Vatican II: Archivists and Historians in Dialogue
Tricia Pyne (Saint Mary’s Seminary & University), Leslie W. Tentler (Catholic University of America), Jeffrey M. Burns (Academy of American Franciscan History), Wm. Kevin Cawley (University of Notre Dame), Joseph P. Chinnici (Franciscan School of Theology), Maria R. Mazzenga (Catholic University of America), Thomas J. Shelley (Fordham University)

Friday, January 4, 2013
8:30-10:00 AM
Marriott, Bacchus Room

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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