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CRRA Volunteer Recognition

CRRA's Volunteer Recognition program acknowledges the service of individuals who have contributed to CRRA in a significant way to develop and improve CRRA products and services.

2022 Recipients

2021 Recipients

2020 Recipients

2019 Recipients

2018 Recipients

2022 Recipients: Diane Maher, Stephanie Shreffler, and Daniela Rovida

This year’s distinguished volunteers join a growing number of individuals recognized in past years, all of whom have contributed in various ways to the development and success of CRRA resources, which include the Catholic Portal, the Catholic News Archive and CRRA Subject Guides.

Today we recognize Diane Maher, University of San Diego, and Stephanie Shreffler, University of Dayton, for their steadfast leadership of the Collections Committee.  According to our records, Diane was present at the first meeting in 2006 (perhaps by phone because Diane remembers more distinctly the 2008 Boston meeting), and then, in 2012, Diane accepted Pat Lawton’s invitation to become chair.  Stephanie joined the Committee in September 2014. Also at Pat Lawton’s invitation, she became chair in August 2016.  Together their thoughtful and energetic leadership led to a decade of accomplishments.  

Their leadership focused attention on what the committee could do to understand, grow, and promote the curated collection of rare and unique Catholic materials brought together the Catholic Portal. During the pandemic, we have of necessity become more skilled in working virtually with colleagues, but a decade ago, it wasn’t that usual to hold all meetings by phone. Yet, Diane and Stephanie successfully set the stage for effective committee work. As chairs,

  • they excelled in seeing important questions and developing committee strategies for finding answers, for example, to create awareness through the Links and Resources page on CRRA’s website of other Catholic groups and resources such as the Catholic Open Access Religion Journals and #HiddenCatholicCollections mentioned earlier by Stephanie.
  • They were open to considering all ideas and points of view from committee members and demonstrated the truth of the statement we all know – that “there are no dumb ideas or questions,” and
  • made everyone feel comfortable that they had something to contribute.
  • The 2016 revision of the Collection Policy Statement, which guides members in selecting materials for the Portal, as well as their work to expand the scope of the Portal by allowing non-members to add metadata records for their archival collections, is a testament to their ability to develop an effective and productive committee.  

They also saw how their work fit with others in CRRA. Over the years, they led the committee in working

  • with the Digital Access Committee, for example, in developing a tool for evaluating the uniqueness of materials in the Portal and harvesting metadata from OAI-compliant repositories,
  • with the Liaisons on identifying content for the Portal,
  • with members through lightning talks featuring their collections at annual meetings, and
  • fostering the development of CRRA subject guides through an ad hoc subcommittee, which has now been incorporated into the Collections Committee.   Diane and Stephanie were strong advocates not only for building the Portal but also for developing subject guides that provided topical pathways for finding materials in the Portal. 

In 2015/16, Diane responded to a call for essays from the Atla journal Theological Librarianship. Advised by the committee members that the Atla Roman Catholic Denomination Group was aware of the Portal as a gateway to rare and unique material, Diane invited colleagues to describe a specific collection at their institution and wrote the introduction.  This article still stands as an authoritative description of the Portal as a gateway and virtual library, and its value as a research tool. The article - Greater Than the Sum of Its Parts: The Shared Wealth of Scholarly Resources in the Catholic Portal  was published October 2016 (v9,n2). 

Stephanie and her University of Dayton colleague, Kayla Harris, created two collections documenting Catholic responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.  In December 2020, they presented the webinar “Curating the Catholic Web Archives About the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Their clear and easy to follow presenting style introduced attendees to web-archiving and walked participants through the criteria used to make selections from the vast amount of Web content available, and described how the collections support the missions of the library and the university as a whole.  Over 110 individuals from a broad range of CRRA members as well as from other academic, religious, and diocesan archives.  The recording is available from our website. Users can search the two collections - The COVID-19 Pandemic and the U.S. Church collection and The Marian Library Web Clippings collection – on the University of Dayton website.

Today we also recognize Daniela Rovida, Rare Books Cataloging and Metadata Librarian, University of Notre Dame, for her proactive project to expand discovery avenues worldwide for Catholic e-newspapers in the Catholic News Archive. Since joining the Digital Access Committee in fall 2020, Daniela has focused her energy in two directions. First, she said, I want to learn about how the Portal is created and managed. Second, I want to use my skills in cataloging and metadata to the benefit of CRRA. She decided to create new MARC records, or in one case, update the existing MARC record, for the e-newspapers in the Catholic Newspapers. After she added the links to that paper in the Catholic News Archive and completed the cataloging, she uploaded the records to the Catholic Portal and even more importantly, to OCLC’s World Cat. She wasn’t content to stop there. She went on to create the globally accessible Catholic News Archive Collection in OCLC Collection Manager. Not only CRRA members but also all libraries around the world can add their holdings symbol to this collection of e-newspaper records. In this way, libraries can add these records to their local discovery systems for direct access to the e-newspapers in the Catholic News Archive. Her work has resulted in a discovery channel which will be amplified more than a hundred-fold as libraries download to their catalogs and discovery systems.


2021 Recipients: Pat Lawton and the Catholic News Archive Top 5 Text Correctors

Tribute to Pat Lawton, Special Projects Librarian and Head, Digital Access, Projects, and Outreach Services (DAPOS), Hesburgh Libraries, University of Notre Dame and CRRA Digital Initiatives Librarian

by Jennifer Younger, Executive Director, CRRA

It is impossible to imagine CRRA without Pat Lawton. Since May 2009, when she joined CRRA as our first paid staff member, Pat’s guiding hand has been present in virtually every aspect of how CRRA developed, what we’ve accomplished and who we are today. CRRA is member governed, not just on paper but embedded in the way we work, and demonstrated every day, every year in Pat’s leadership.

Pat started, coordinated, collaborated, completed and/or communicated many projects, included documentation, surveys, reports, website pages, the first strategic plan, symposiums, annual meetings, and the newsletter. She hired our first webmaster and data analyst, practicum students and the Catholic News Archive project manager, wrote announcements for other professional association newsletters, and started the "CRRA Corner" in the Catholic Library World. She worked closely with numerous committees and task forces, assisting them in defining our resources such as the portal and the Catholic News Archive. In short, if we did it, Pat was involved. And, she did all this with a generous use of questions to understand what others were thinking, grace and good cheer.

We asked committee chairs for their thoughts. Here are some excerpts from their tributes.

  • She has a gift for understanding people and helping them.
  • She had thoughtful, constructive comments to offer during our meetings. I truly felt supported by her, and felt that she believed in my ability as chair.
  • She helped bring all the different parts of CRRA together and keep them apprised of each other's activities.
  • I remember hearing a presentation by Pat at an Atla Annual Conference and coming away with the feeling that my small library could actually do a digitization project!

Pat is retiring this year. While we will miss her, her positive impact will be with us for many years. She was a big part of realizing our dreams as well as our desire to be “member-governed.” She inspired us to see it really could be done. We are grateful for her work in creating a strong foundation on which to move into the future.


Tribute to the Catholic News Archive's Top 5 Text Correctors with special thanks to CRRA Members and Volunteers: KEVIN CAWLEYCRRA Digital Access Committee Chair, University of Notre Dame (retired); KAREN LESIAKCRRA Digitizing Partner, Hartford CT; and NOEL MCFERRANCRRA Collections Committee, University of St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto

Text correctors are often the unsung heroes, yet their work is crucial to improving the quality of a database. For various reasons, scanned images may not be crisp. The OCR process, which generates the searchable text, may then contain spelling errors, thus negatively impacting search results. In doing their research in the Catholic News Archive, Kevin, Karen, and Noel have taken time to correct mistakes and we are grateful. This isn’t all they do, however. Kevin has created finding aids to almost 150 religious congregation archive collections for the portal. Karen was the prime mover in digitizing 30 years of the Hartford, CT Catholic newspaper. Noel inspired the Directory of Catholic Newspapers Online, with links to over 200 papers, another CRRA resource freely available to all.

Thank you to Kevin, Karen, Noel for all of your efforts to improve, expand, and promote CRRA resources!

2020 Recipients: Ted Bergfelt and Darren Poley

Tribute to Ted Bergfelt, Humanities Librarian, Duquesne University and Darren Poley, Theology, Classics and Humanities Librarian, Villanova University

by Jennifer Younger, Executive Director, CRRA

Members and partners are the lifeblood of CRRA. It’s my great pleasure to give special recognition to two individuals who have made a deep and lasting impact on CRRA through their vision, expertise, creativity and "full steam ahead" leadership.  

It was sometime in 2011-12 when Ted started creating the popular subject guides for CRRA. Ted was a member of the Collections Committee and deserves the lion’s share of credit for starting us down the path of CRRA guides. Ted, along with a few others, has used the CRRA subscription to create 34 subject, teaching and learning guides. Ted has led the way with 27 subject guides on religious orders, papal encyclicals, how to find parish histories in the Catholic Portal and more. The guides are regularly consulted on the CRRA site, available for patron use as well as adaptation for local use.

Ted presented a well-attended session last year to the Catholic Library Association about creating subject guides for use by people at many institutions. When creating guides for Duquesne University, he can include high quality sources to which Duquesne subscribes as well as those freely available online. However, for CRRA guides, he focuses on high quality freely available sources so that everyone can get access to the sources mentioned. An unsolicited shout-out came last year from a professor at Seton Hall University who said his students find them incredibly useful for their research.  

Without Ted’s leadership and creativity, these guides would not be there for use. Thank you Ted, for your past guides and continuing participation on the Collections Committee! 

Darren Poley has been involved in CRRA from the beginning, serving on the Board, the Liaisons Council and the Newspapers Committee and Digitizing Partners Forum. Since 2018, when he became chair of the Committee, Darren has paved the way for enhancing organizational functioning through technology, recognized and made visible the critical bonds between the Newspapers Committee and Digitizing Partners, and used his creativity to enhance the presentation of the Catholic Newspapers Program and direct access to the Catholic News Archive on our website. In addition, he has led the group in setting policies for developing and presenting the Catholic News Archive.

He is an active – the word tireless comes to mind – blogger with many posts about questions for which information can be found in the Catholic News Archive. One early blog spoke of finding the Catholic laity response to the allegations that they were behind the conflagration in 1840, started by the Nativists, which was not printed in the Philadelphia city papers but fortunately for historians it was printed in full in the Cincinnati Catholic Telegraph. In Darren’s later posts and articles, he pointed out the significance of finding perspectives not carried in city papers about events, for example, in the 1960’s – the Second Vatican Council, the Vietnam War, and civil rights.

It has been a pleasure working with him on these and other things. Thank you, Darren for enhancing our functionality and public face!

2019 Recipients: Katherine Nuss & Kevin Cawley

Tribute to Katherine Nuss, Manager, Archives and Information Services, US Conference of Catholic Bishops, and member of CRRA Newspapers Committee and Digitizing Partners

By Amy Cary, Marquette University and member, Newspapers Committee and Digitizing Partners

I first met Katherine in person at a recent Society of American Archivists annual meeting, but I was already acquainted with her from our mutual participation in the Newspapers Committee and Digitizing Partners. Katherine is a determined activist with a big dream of digitizing the Catholic News Service historic newsfeeds and the accompanying Catholic World in Pictures. She was a practical dreamer who wanted a better way to search these newspapers. Her archives had no film reader, requiring a walk over to Catholic University or an even more tedious browse through 65 years of printed volumes. She also knew the film copies of the Catholic News Service exist in only 3 collections – USCCB, Marquette and Catholic – and her dream included freely available online access by anyone, anywhere, 24/7. When the time came for sending her film copies to the vendor, she made sure that I (Marquette) still had what she called “back-up copies.” All along, she provided on-target advice in countless discussions shaping the development of the Catholic News Archive, and was instrumental in obtaining two grants to fund the digitization of CNS and CWP, and provide some funds for selections of other diocesan papers. Without Katherine’s leadership, we would not be nearly as far along as we are today. All of us – ourselves as her colleagues, our faculty, students, scholars and readers worldwide – owe her a giant thank you for her extraordinary ability to make big dreams become a reality.


Tribute to Kevin Cawley, Senior Archivist, University of Notre Dame, Chair of the CRRA Digital Access Committee

By Demian Katz, Villanova University, Member and former chair of the CRRA Digital Access Committee

Kevin Cawley is one of the longest-serving members of the CRRA. He has been a member of the Digital Access Committee since its inception, and was involved in the Catholic Portal project even before that. He has been the chair of DAC since 2016, and he has presented at multiple CRRA-hosted events. As a professional archivist and one of the organization’s most engaged members, Kevin has brought a valuable archival perspective to CRRA projects and has also used his technical abilities to make archival metadata more accessible with the help of his simple EAD creation tool. It has been a pleasure working with him on these and other things, and I am very happy to be able to present this award. In other activities, Kevin was a speaker at the October 2013 Catholic Archives in the Digital Age held at Catholic University. Later, at the CRRA Symposium Bringing the Created Toward the Creator: Liturgical Art and Design Since Vatican II in 2015 at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, Kevin presented a poster on Catholic art.

2018 Recipients: Demian Katz and Eric Lease Morgan

Tribute to CRRA Digital Access Commitee members Demian Katz, Director of Library Technologies, Villanova University, and Eric Lease Morgan, Digital Initiatives Librarian, University of Notre Dame

by Pat Lawton, University of Notre Dame, CRRA Digitial Projects Librarian

Demian is the developer for VuFind, which powers the Catholic Portal, and served as DAC Chair from 2012-16 and continues to serve on DAC. His gracious and generous leadership served us well in that long stretch. To name just a few of his many contributions, he supported our movement to the open source CMS Concrete5, collaborated with CUA researcher Ingrid Hsieh Yee to map LCSH to the portal themes, conducted VF upgrades, led us through usability studies, focus groups, served on the newspapers digital specs committee, and most recently, shepherded us through the migration from Concrete 5 to MemberClicks. With Eric, Demian made possible harvesting of member data. The most challenging problems he takes in stride, and consistently provides elegant, simple solutions.

Eric set up the Catholic Portal in 2009 using open source software and has tirelessly supported ingest of data into the Portal. He has provided creative, simple solutions to problems such as cross walking PastPerfect metadata into Dublin Core, implemented a full text search in the Portal, developed an EAD module within VuFind, introduced us to text mining against a corpus of Catholic Pamphlets, and developed the “rare tool” in response to the Collections’ committee desire to make it possible for members to simply evaluate the “rareness” of their Portal collections.