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CRRA Update Sept/Oct/Nov 2013

CRRA Update
September, October, November, 2013
please see the PDF for
the more visually rich version


CRRA All Member Annual Meeting at Marquette University on May 7-8, 2014, in Milwaukee. Details will be posted here and to the CRRA News and Events page as they become available.

In this issue:

  • From the Membership Committee: CRRA welcomes Avila University (Kansas City, MO) and Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Dubuque, IA)
  • From the Board: Building Relationships
  • Collections Spotlight: A Serendipitous Discovery, by David Richtmyer
  • Digitizing The Missionary Catechist, by Jeff Hoffman
  • From the Catholic Newspapers Task Force: A Platform for the Catholic Newspapers Directory
  • Implementing the Catholic Newspapers Directory
  • Digitizing Catholic Newspapers
  • Teaching with the Prejean Papers: Kudos to our DePaul Colleagues
  • ATLA Receives IMLS Grant
  • Conference at the Vatican Library

Evelyn Minick, Chair

We are pleased to welcome Avila University (Kansas City, MO) and Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Dubuque, IA) as our 37th and 38th member and partner respectively.

Dating back to the 1800’s, Avila University, a Catholic University sponsored by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, provides undergraduate and graduate education to 1,800 students. The Hooley-Bundschu Library holds two notable collections that will add significantly to the CRRA collections: the CSJ Heritage Center Federation Collection of records of the United States Federation of the Sisters of Saint Joseph and the Women Religious Collections with over 1,600 manuscripts, pamphlets, photographs, ephemera and other materials related to the communities and activities of sisters and nuns in the United States. Find out more about Library and the University Archives and Special Collections at


Kathleen Finegan, Library Director, Adonna Thompson, Archivist and Carol Coburn, Professor of Religious Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies, learned of the CRRA mission through Carol’s participation in the recent conference Catholic Archives in the Digital Age. They look forward to introducing Avila students and faculty to the resources in the portal and Catholic Newspapers Online.

The Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary began in the early 1800’s in Philadelphia with a mission of teaching poor children. These pioneer BVMs recognized the immense need for education, particularly of girls, and developed a cross-country educational network from New York to Hawaii, Minnesota to Mississippi. Today over 500 Sisters serve in diverse ministries in more than 20 states and three foreign countries.

The Mount Carmel Archives offer a unique perspective on the activities of the Catholic Church and deep insight into the lives of religious women. The collections include over 2,900 personal files (open for use excepting medical information) and files of over 200 missions in 21 states and three foreign countries with information on the curriculum, student activities and associated parish history. In addition, the Archives include materials relating to the Conference of Major Superiors of Women (CMSW) and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), which complements the collections at Loyola University Chicago. The Archives continues to acquire materials through transfer from congregational offices, social justice ministries of the Sisters and individual donations. In addition to creating finding aids, they are digitizing a collection of 70 open-reel films from various BVM missions for preservation and access and planning future projects for other non-print formats. Jennifer Head (pictured above, left), Archivist, and Assistant Archivist, Deanna Marie Carr, BVM (pictured above, right) want to make these unique collections, which are not represented in WorldCat, known and more accessible to researchers through the portal.

From the Board: Building Relationships
Tyrone Cannon, Chair and Dean University of San Francisco

Let me add the Board’s appreciation to the Catholic Newspaper Task Force and the Directory Platform Group for their careful review and recommendation of a newspapers platform.

The International Coalition on Newspapers (ICON) program and database are hosted by the Center for Research Libraries (CRL). For that reason, at the Board’s fall meeting, we agreed our next step is to build a relationship with CRL with its mission to collect, preserve and connect scholars with unique materials. We will consult our members and CRL to understand the benefits of partnering and to determine affordable, mutually agreeable fees for participating in ICON, which is a CRL Global Resources Forum program. On behalf of the Board, I encourage you to contact any Board member with questions, comments or advice.

Collections Spotlight: A Serendipitous Discovery
by David Richtmyer, Member, Collections Committee and Rare Books Librarian and Senior Cataloger, Burns Library, Boston College

Technical Services librarians like myself perform the very bedrock of library service: if our job is done correctly, hundreds of thousands - in some cases, millions - of volumes are easily discoverable and retrievable. Language, format and date of the materials is, as it were, immaterial. The downside to this happy state of affairs, alas, is that rarely is this work remarked on, much less praised, unless something has gone amiss.

So it was particularly rewarding when I received the following message from a user that I had never heard of before. But first, a bit of background information to frame her discovery of a resource now housed and hosted at Boston College.

In 2008 Boston College was in the process of turning the former St. John's Seminary Library into what would become our Theology and Ministry Library. To accomplish this transformation, the materials - especially the rare materials - held by St. John's had to be removed for the ensuing renovations that were to take place in the summer of that year. While picking over the many rare books held in this collection - 15 incunabula alone, and well over 150 16th century volumes - I spotted a set of dusty, folio-sized books that contained what appeared to be a local newspaper: the Sacred Heart Review. Perusing a few of the issues I discovered an interesting Catholic newspaper, published before and during the First World War, filled with articles and advertisements from a long-ago Boston.

"What," I asked, "would become of these volumes if the Burns Library did not take them?" The question was not an idle one; space is limited in the Burns Library and there were many duplicate copies amongst the St. John's collection. "They'll be thrown away," I was told. The more I scanned individual issues of this journal the more a whole world began appearing to me, and so my acquisition of these journals into the Burns Library’s collection became a foregone conclusion. That is the short of how the Burns Library acquired this collection.

Years later, and with the hard work of many dedicated Boston College Libraries staff, including Betsy Post, Bill Donovan, Naomi Rubin, and many others, this landmark newspaper is now available in electronic format here.

All of which brings me back to the message I received from Ellen Brewin, a Boston College Law School alumna from 1976:

Dear Mr. Richtmyer,

I have been working on family genealogy for a number of years. This week I received a request for more information about one side of my family which led me to go ahead and once more perform a google search for the name of the little townland in Roscommon near Boyle called "Tawnytaskin." My mother's grandmother, Catherine Coleman, emigrated from there in about 1865 ending up in Leominster, Ma.

Through the "magic" of the Internet, I have connected with a variety of people online who are descended from Catherine's grandparents - many of whom have added small pieces to the story of this family that I first heard about from my mother. I even have "met" descendants of her brothers who still live in Ireland as well as her uncles' descendants who also remain there.

Imagine my surprise to find that my search yielded information from several issues of the Sacred Heart Review which posted letters from young children living in Tawnytaskin in 1911-1912. These letters even refer to their American cousin living in Leominster as well as pinpointing the death of a beloved grandfather 2 days before Christmas (he was my great grandmother's uncle).

I know that some of my Irish cousins have been searching for more information about the death of their ancestor in 1911 as he is buried with his brother, Catherine Coleman's father in Estersnow Cemetery. I have sent the links off to Ireland and I know that they will be surprised and happy as well. There was also some mention of an Aunt Winnie in Manchester, NH which should give them some more food for genealogical thought.

Thank you so much for working on this - it gave me goosebumps to feel the years between us just slide away and feel almost as if it were the present.

The work of librarians and archivists everywhere is a hugely important task: the prevention of cultural Alzheimer’s. Anyone who has helped a loved one through this horrible disease knows how devastating it is for a person to lose their very soul. So what a greater confirmation of the worth of this task could I have received than Ms. Brewin’s message!

Digitizing The Missionary Catechist
by Jeff Hoffman, Archivist, Our Lady of Victory Missionary Sisters

In looking over material of the Victory Noll archives, we had a discussion on whether to microfilm some of our records or digitize them. In closer examination we decided to explore digitization. It was about this time that Pat Lawton introduced us to the CRRA. Through discussions with her, we began looking at the Victory Noll Archives participating with the CRRA. Our earliest participation would be the digitization of THE MISSIONARY CATECHIST, which was our journal that was published from 1924 to 1964. Once we decided to go ahead with the digitization, we needed to look at how this would be funded. We searched for resources that would be a good fit for us, in which our chances of getting the funding would stand a good chance of success. One of the first that came to mind was Our Sunday Visitor Institute. Since they only offer funding through organizations listed in the Official Catholic Directory, our competition would be limited. Throughout the grant process Pat walked us through the steps necessary. One item that is necessary is a letter from the local ordinary in support of the project. We applied in the spring with the closing date the Tuesday after Easter. I recommend contacting the Bishop sooner than later, because they tend to be busy in the time leading up to the Triduum. We were able to get the full amount that we requested.

One of the grant application questions asked for a timeline of the project. This made us take into consideration how we were going to scan the material. We decided to outsource it due to limited resources here. We did not request for the scans to be OCRed, and did not realize this until later in the project. To make the journal OCR-enabled, we ended up running through an Adobe Acrobat Program on our own, which added slightly to our overall cost.

We also looked at how we would make the journal available online. We looked at various hosting sites, and found few geared towards libraries and archives. We went with, because of their different pricing levels. We liked what we saw, when we utilized their free level, and decided to go with an upgrade.

I only had limited experience with metadata before I began this project. Pat and Alex Papson (University of Notre Dame) walked me through the fields that would be necessary for our project, and gave me a better explanation of Dublin Core. I read all I could find about metadata, but having someone explain the slight variations in various fields was helpful. Once I had a better understanding of metadata and Dublin Core, I could make better use of online resources available when uploading the material. When it came to uploading the metadata, I found that I could do it via batches with However, I did not find a way to do it for THE MISSIONARY CATECHIST. The issues had to be uploaded individually before they were connected to the metadata.

Due to time constraints, we looked at the possibility of having an intern assist with the adding of the metadata. We set our timeline up in order to have the intern work on the project over the summer. We figured out how long that portion of the project would take, and its cost. Both were placed into the application. We were very pleased with the work of our intern and look forward to making the Catechist available to all through our website and the CRRA.

From the Catholic Newspapers Task Force: A Platform for the Catholic Newspapers Directory
Noel McFerran, chair, University of St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto

I am pleased to announce our selection of the International Coalition on Newspapers (ICON) database as the platform for the Catholic Newspapers Directory. This is an exciting step that allows us to leverage our resources through use of an existing database and place Catholic newspapers into a bigger pond of newspapers. ICON is freely accessible at Although there were other possible options, such as OCLC WorldCatLocal, the deciding factor was the capacity to include Catholic newspaper holdings of CRRA members, such as Philadelphia Archdiocesan Historical Research Center (PAHRC) and others who are not necessarily members of OCLC or participants in other major union catalogs.


We owe thanks to many people, but especially to the Newspapers Directory Group, a subcommittee of the Catholic Newspaper Task Force. We are grateful for their expert guidance and discharge them with great appreciation.

  • Rob Behary, Duquesne University
  • Megan Bernal, DePaul University
  • Pat Lawton, CRRA
  • Shana McDanold, Georgetown University
  • Noel McFerran, University of St. Michael’s College
  • Betsy Post, Boston College
  • Manda Vrkljan, University of St. Michael’s College

Implementing the Catholic Newspaper Directory
Pat Lawton, Digital Projects Librarian

In November, our CRRA newspapers program assistant, Alex Budz and I met with staff at the Center for Research Libraries to develop a workflow in the use of the ICON database, which includes about 150,000 newspaper title records. We were pleased to learn that of the first 25 Catholic newspaper records submitted, more than half were new contributions to the ICON database.

I am working now with Noel McFerran and the Newspapers TF to set up a Newspapers Implementation Advisory Subcommittee. This group will evaluate and recommend technologies, standards, and oversight strategies for all aspects of the Catholic Newspapers Program including: creating the Catholic Newspapers Directory in the ICON database, digitizing a core set of Catholic newspapers, and establishing a shared repository. Immediate needs include: identifying an oversight process for ensuring data quality and ease of workflow for member holdings into ICON, identifying digitization best practices, and recommending a repository platform. The group will make its recommendations to the Catholic Newspapers TF which will seek input and approval as needed from the Board. Noel and I welcome your suggestions, comments and questions, which you may send to Noel, to me or to any member of the Newspapers Task Force.

Digitizing Catholic Newspapers
Jennifer Younger, Executive Director

Pat Lawton, Betsy Post (Boston College), and I are working with Lyrasis staff to develop a concept proposal for digitizing a core set of Catholic newspapers and developing a shared repository for digital Catholic newspapers content. We anticipate a pilot project to digitize the Boston Pilot, the Boston diocesan paper, which will also develop workflows, costs, and timeframes for collaboration of participating institutions. An important goal is thus for partners to establish and test a framework to ensure a viable, functional framework for a larger digitization project. The Scholars Advisory Committee has suggested that priority be given to digitizing major U.S. newspapers, such as Chicago, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco and St. Louis. In addition, they have noted the advantage of comparing local or regional perspectives to the national story. Thus, our preliminary priority list also includes newsfeeds from the Catholic News Service, the National Catholic Reporter and Our Sunday Visitor. Digitizing pre-1923 content in the public domain is one starting point. There is also significant interest in 1958-1970 for coverage from the pre and post-Vatican II years.

We are working with about 20 CRRA members and other “digitizing partners” who have indicated their willingness to provide the information needed for the concept proposal, such as best copy, page and frame counts, and formats. In addition, our digitizing partners will provide the newspaper content for digitizing. We will also need to find external funds to carry out the digitizing. We will work with the CRRA Board of Directors, Lyrasis and others in identifying possible funding sources and determining how best to approach them. Our goal is to submit the concept proposal to the Board for discussion in its first meeting in 2014. Please let us hear your questions, comments and suggestions. You can contact Pat, Betsy and/or me directly.

Teaching with the Prejean Papers: Kudos to our DePaul Colleagues in Special Collections and Archives for their efforts in bringing special collections to faculty and students as documented in the Catholic Library World article by faculty member Susanne Dumbleton.

Dumbleton, S. (2013). Everyone turns human: Teaching with the Prejean papers. Catholic Library World, 84 (1), 17-24.

ATLA Receives IMLS Grant to Explore Preservation Needs in Small Theological and Religious Studies Libraries

The American Theological Library Association (ATLA) has received a 2013 National Leadership Grants for Libraries Planning Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences (IMLS) in the amount of $46,500. The grant will support the project, “In Good Faith: Collection Care, Preservation, and Access in Small Theological and Religious Studies Libraries,” in partnership with the Catholic Library Association (CLA) and the Association of Jewish Libraries (AJL).

During the grant period, the American Theological Library Association, the Catholic Library Association, and the Association of Jewish Libraries will assess the collection care, preservation, and access practices of small theological and religious studies libraries and begin to identify valuable and vulnerable collections held in these institutions. The centerpiece of the project will be a survey designed for and deployed to institutions that may not have previously been included in such studies. Existing standards and practices that help libraries respond to their unique circumstances will be promoted to the targeted libraries and at the same time the partners will communicate the challenges and opportunities faced by these libraries to the larger library and research communities. Finally, the project will explore collaborative initiatives to respond to identified long-term collection care, preservation, and access needs.

“’In Good Faith’ is an exciting project that will benefit the members of all three associations. Based on earlier research, we know that many small theological and religious studies libraries hold valuable unique special collections but lack the resources locally to preserve them and make them easily accessible to researchers. This project will begin to identify and inventory these collections and to seek solutions – before these materials are lost to scholars forever ,” said Brenda Bailey-Hainer, ATLA Executive Director. More …

Conference at the Vatican Library on the Library Catalogue:

Faster, Smarter, and Richer (FSR): Reshaping the Library Catalogue International Conference
27-28 February 2014
The Vatican Library Rome, Italy
Conference url <>

CRRA Update is an electronic newsletter distributed via email to provide members and friends 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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