CATLA Spring Conference

On Friday, April 15 I had the honor and pleasure of giving a presentation to the Chicago Area Theological Library Association. This posting documents the experience.

To and from Berrien Springs (MI)
To and from Berrien Springs (MI)

The Chicago Area Theological Library Association held its Spring Conference at Andrews University in Berrien Springs (Michigan). The conference was small, about 15 people attended. After the business meeting I gave a presentation on “next-generation library catalogs”, digital humanities, and the “Catholic Portal”. In a nutshell I compared & contrasted database applications (traditional library catalogs) with indexes (“discovery systems”). I then demonstrated a few text analysis tools and at the same time explained how these tools can be used to supplement the “close” reading process. Finally I described and demonstrated the “Catholic Portal”, and I showed how the ideas of “next-generation” library catalogs and text mining have been incorporated into it. I got lucky with the last part of the presentation because I had upgraded the Portal the previous day, and nothing went wrong during the demonstration.

After a vegetarian lunch in the University’s dining hall, we returned to the conference room for a set of lightning talks:

  • Kate Ganski (University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee) described a needs-based marketing campaign which looked rather innovative and energetic
  • Lisa Gonzalez (Catholic Theological Union) enumerated a number of cool (and “kewl”) tech tools to share with patrons
  • Alan Krieger (University of Notre Dame) described the the Hesburgh Libraries’s newly created theological reading room and how it was being used
  • Matt Ostercamp (North Park University) outlined ways to promote traditional reading in libraries, and of all the lightning talks, this one complemented my presentation the most
  • Karl Stutzman (Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary) reported on the process his library is going through to implement Primo

After the talks we were given a very nice tour of the University’s library and archive. Hosting the largest collection of Seventh Day Adventist materials in the world, the University archive was quite impressive. They actively digitize their materials and provide a home for a wide variety of materials. I was also impressed with the library’s service to the community. Specifically, they operated a charitable giving program where they received new (and used) books from a variety of sources and then shipped these books to fledgling libraries all over the world. They were putting their university’s values into practice.

I had a good time, and I appreciate the opportunity. “Thank you, Lisa G., for inviting me!”

Author: Eric Lease Morgan

I am a librarian first and a computer user second. My professional goal is to discover new ways to use computers to provide better library services. I use much of my time here at the University of Notre Dame developing and providing technical support for the Catholic Research Resources Alliance -- the "Catholic Portal".