Philadelphia Archdiocesan Historical Research Center (PAHRC) records

Just less than 1,100 records from the Philadelphia Archdiocesan Historical Research Center (PAHRC) have been added to the "Portal" --

CRRA Update January 2012

CRRA UPDATE January 2012

Happy New Year! We wish you a most blessed, peaceful, healthy, and prosperous 2012. This month’s update includes:

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Content from the University of Dayton

Twenty-nine records from the Archives at the University of Dayton added to the "Catholic Portal" --

CRRA Update Nov/Dec 2011

CRRA Update
November/December 2011

In this update …

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Indexing PastPerfect metadata for the "Catholic Portal"

Using VuFind's inherent ability to index OAI metadata, I have successfully been able to index metadata coming from a PastPerfect implementation.

Starting somewhere near version 1.2, VuFind supports the indexing of arbitrary metadata types. Content from OAI repositories was the original example. Later, I figured out how to index EAD files. This was a break through for the "Portal". Give credit to open source software.

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Duplicate records in the "Catholic Portal"

There is some concern about duplicate records in the "Catholic Portal", and this posting introduces the topic to a wider audience.

The "Catholic Portal" is intended to contain links to and content of a rare and infrequently held nature. Every once in a while search results return duplicate records. For example, yesterday, it was brought to our attention that there are five records with the title Life Of Mrs. Eliza A. Seton. On one hand, few if any of these records are duplicates because between the five of them they are held by two different institutions. And each institution owns multiple editions. In the sense of a "catalog", this is perfectly acceptable, if not expected. On the other hand, the Portal is not a catalog but rather an index, and each of the five items are really a variation on a theme. Should these records be merged?

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Survey of Digitized Rare Catholica - Results

Bible Text

Marta Deyrup and Martha Loesch, catalogers at (CRRA instution) Seton Hall University, and Pat Lawton, digital projects librarian for the CRRA, have released the results of their Survey of Digitized Rare Catholica held by Catholic universities, colleges, seminaries and archives in the U.S. and Canada. You may view the Summary Report of Results and the results data.

Portal surgery

I was recently told to delete thousands upon thousands of records from the "Catholic Portal", and through the magic of the Solr's Web-based API and a full-featured HTTP client I was able to do this surgery with laser beam accuracy.

Specifically, I needed to delete all of the records in the Portal from the University of Notre Dame Archives because the Archives wanted to totally replace what finding aids were available. This meant deleting more than a 100,000 records from the underlying index. After a bit of investigation, I learned that at the following one-liner from the command line would do the trick:

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VuStuff II: A Travelogue

On Wednesday, October 12, 2011 I had the opportunity to attend and present at the second annual VuStuff meeting held at Falvey Library, Villanova University (Philadelphia). This posting documents my experience there, but in a nutshell, this small and intimate meeting provided a venue for interesting discussion on the topic of modern librarianship.

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CRRA Update Sept/Oct 2011

CRRA Update
September/October 2011

In this update …

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Indexing EAD files in the "Catholic Portal" with VUFind

This posting describes how EAD files are indexed in the "Catholic Portal" with VUFind.

VUFind is a "next-generation library catalog" or "discovery system" application. Its primary purpose is to index bibliographic metadata and provide a reader-friendly interface to the result. The heart of this process is a Solr index made up of many bibliographic-like fields. These fields are the usual suspects including a host of variants on author, title, institution, building, collection, language, format, physical description, publisher, published date, edition, description (note), contents, URL, call number, ISSN, ISBN, OCLC number, series, topic, genre, geographic, era, illustration, full text, and record type. In order for EAD files to be searchable in the Portal, they need to have their metadata extracted, the metadata needs to be mapped to Solr fields, and the metadata needs to be added to the index. The balance of this posting describes this in more detail.

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"Advancing Catholic Scholarship" Symposium at Duquesne Nov. 9-10


The registration deadline for this CRRA/Duquesne sponsored event is this Friday, October 15, 2011.  We are pleased that many of you have already registered for the event and if you have thought about registering, please do so now.  There is no fee to register.

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Archdiocese of Chicago

Last week a number of us visited the archives of the Archdiocese of Chicago, and I went away thoroughly impressed. Fireproof walls and doors. Systematic digitization. The implementation of retention policies. The papers of cardinals, rows and rows of baptismal records, and even the transcripts of school children. Very professional. Large. Seemingly well-equipped. Knowledgable staff. The are taking their responsibility seriously.

CRRA July/August 2011 Update

The July/August 2011 CRRA Update is now available at:

CRRA Update

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Progress with statistics reporting

Progress is being made when it comes to "Catholic Portal" VuFind statistics reporting.

Yesterday I broke down and re-wrote my log file import application. Instead of parsing the log, ingesting the results, and then post processing, I re-wrote the application so it does all of this in one pass. I also enhanced the program so it could take command line input. Specifically, if no arguments are supplied, then it will import yesterday's log data. Otherwise it expects two inputs: 1) a beginning date, and 2) an ending date. If given these inputs, then I can drop the entire database and re-create it almost effortlessly. The script is called, and it is now running under cron so the database gets updated daily.

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Advancing Catholic Scholarship: A Symposium at Duquesne [call for posters, details]

Dear CRRA Colleagues,

We are pleased to invite you, members of your staff, students and faculty at your institution to a symposium to be held November 9-10, 2011 at Duquesne University. Invited Catholic scholars and librarians will discuss the “state of the art” of Catholic scholarship, directions that scholarship is headed, and how libraries, archives, and member organizations support and nurture future Catholic scholars and scholarship.

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VUFind and sitemaps

In an effort to improve SEO (search engine optimization) I have done my best to implement sitemaps against the "Catholic Portal's" VUFind implementation.

Sitemaps are XML files listing all the individual files/resources of a website. The intention and structure of these files is documented at By exposing a site's content in this way Internet robots/spiders can slurp up sitemap files' URLs, go directly the resources without crawling, and index the content found there. In short, sitemaps make it easier for Internet indexers to do their job.

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VUFind, version 1.1 or so

I believe I have just finished upgrading the production version of VUFind -- the software driving the "Catholic Portal" -- to version RC3107 which is somewhere between version 1.1 and 1.2. This upgrade addresses at least a couple of usability issues, specifically:

  1. wording in regards the linking of online finding aids
  2. toggling the check box associated with filters

With this version there are also quite a number of additional records in the underlying index -- around 280,000. This is because the finding aids (EAD files) have been indexed more completely.

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How to upgrade VUFind

These are notes (to myself, mostly) on how to upgrade VUFind from a local "sandbox" version to a production version. But they are also documented here, just in case I win the lottery and start enjoying umbrella drinks on some Caribbean island.

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CRRA May/June 2011 Update

The May/June 2011 CRRA Update is now available at:

In this issue you will find news items regarding:

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