CRRA Update Nov/Dec 2011

CRRA Update
November/December 2011

In this update …


CRRA Welcomes Three New Members

Benedictine University (Lisle, IL)
Benedictine University is a Catholic University in the Benedictine tradition providing a values-centered liberal arts education enriched by its excellence in science.  The University Libraries holds unique research materials with special collection strengths relating to two portal themes: Catholic education and Men’s religious orders. Their collections include manuscripts of the Benedictine Order, presidential papers of Richard C. Becker as first lay president, the records of the St. Women’s Auxiliary of St. Procopius College and Procopians Forward (Dad’s Club) and books of early Catholic writing and teaching. Some of you met Jack Fritts, University Librarian, at the symposium at Duquesne University. Welcome, Jack Fritts and Julie Wroblewski, Archivist and CRRA liaison.

Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary  (Wynnewood, PA)
The CRRA Collections Committee has noted the richness of seminary library collections in general and the collections of Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary in particular.  SCB’s collections are strong within portal themes of Catholic intellectual life, Catholic liturgy and devotion, Men’s religious orders, and Vatican II.  The Rare Book Collection of 30,000 volumes includes a major historical liturgical collection, a devotional collection of old prayer books and catechisms, and textbooks and manuals from early American Seminary Education.   Cataloging is underway for a major Catholic pamphlet collection. Cait Kokolus, Vice President for Information Services and Assessment, serves on the CRRA Catholic Newspapers Task Force and is working with Villanova University Library to digitize the Philadelphia Catholic Standard & Times, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.  Cait is also the CRRA liaison. We welcome Cait and Rare Book Librarian, Jim Humble.

Xavier University of Louisiana (New Orleans, LA)
Xavier University was founded by Saint Katharine Drexel and the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, and today is the only Catholic and historically Black university in the United States. As might be expected, the archival holdings are extensive on Roman Catholicism in the South. In addition to individual collections relating to the portal themes of Catholic education, Catholic intellectual life, Catholic missions and Men’s religious orders, Xavier has many collections with a Catholic character, such as the one by and about Charles Roussere, a devout Catholic educator.  Individual collections include the African Americans and the Roman Catholic Church Collection, ca. 1920s-present; the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament Collection, the University founders with missions among African Americans and Native Americans, ca. 1930s-present; the Society of St. Joseph [Josephites] Records, ca. 1888-present, principally on Black Catholic missions in the South; U.S. Catholica  and The Workshop Way, Inc. Records, 1967-present, on the system of education developed by Sister Grace Pilon, S.B.S., widely used in the United States and many other countries.

The richness of the collections at Xavier will come as no surprise to those of you who participated in the tour sponsored by the Catholic Library Association last spring.  We welcome Robert Skinner, University Librarian, Lester Sullivan, Archivist, and Irwin Lachoff, Associate Archivist and CRRA liaison.


From the Board of Directors

The quarterly Board meeting was held on December 13-14 at Catholic University where Steve Connaghan hosted us at the John K. Mullen of Denver Memorial Library.  We allocated substantial time for discussing our vision and mission for the CRRA so that we can provide input to the strategic planning task force.  Also, after a financial overview, we discussed developing a plan for building capacity and sustainability of mission, which will position us to seek external funds, and organizational issues that include pursuing independent tax-exempt status, membership growth and retention. We welcome your input.  Please feel free to contact me or any member of the Board of Directors

I wish you a blessed and joyous Christmas,

Janice Welburn, chair, Board of Directors and
Dean, University Libraries, Marquette University


CRRA Collections Spotlight

The Dorothy Day-Catholic Worker Archives at Marquette University:  Audio Recordings in the Catholic Portal

Historian David O’Brien has called Dorothy Day (1897-1980) “the most influential, interesting and significant person in the history of American Catholicism.”  A convert to Catholicism, Dorothy Day was engaged in many of the pivotal episodes of the twentieth century, spanning from her involvement with Greenwich Village intellectuals during the 1910s to her support of the United Farm Workers in the 1970s.  During the depths of the Great Depression she co-founded the Catholic Worker movement with Peter Maurin.  Today, 125 “houses of hospitality” (in North America, Europe, and Australia) serve the poor and homeless—where they are welcomed as guests. Volunteers seek to “live out” the Gospel message, interpreted as pacifist, personalist, and profoundly radical.  Catholic Worker activists have provided leadership in civil rights, peace, and economic justice initiatives. The global movement forms an enduring thread within the tapestry of grassroots social action.

Established in 1962, the Dorothy Day- Catholic Worker Archives (DDCW) forms one of the most significant collections preserved at Marquette University Libraries. The collection has attracted researchers from around the globe. In the past decade more than 70 books have been published about Day and the “CW movement.”

Seeking to improve access to a major collection of audio recordings within the DDCW archives, Marquette recently collaborated with CRRA partners at Catholic University and St. Catherine University, successfully securing a “Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives” grant from Council on Library Information Resources. The two-year, $149,000 grant is allowing for archival processing and cataloging of a variety of Catholic social action collections.  Catalog records and EAD archival finding aids are destined for the CRRA’s Catholic Portal.

Project staff at Marquette recently completed “real time” listening and item-level cataloging of the DDCW audio recordings, adding catalog records to both OCLC and the Catholic Portal.  Some of the collection highlights included radio interviews and talks by Dorothy Day, spanning from 1958 to 1975; Catholic Worker “Friday Night Meetings,” notable speakers including Michael Harrington, Rev. Daniel Berrigan, Robert Ellsberg, Fritz  Eichenberg, Ade Bethune, and Hildegarde Goss-Mayr; and a variety of oral history interviews with members of the CW movement.

In sum, project staff prepared catalog records for 708 original recordings, totaling 823 hours of audio tape.  In the process they utilized over 1,500 Library of Congress subject headings, indicative of the sheer breadth of the topics documented in this research collection.  Staff members completed the project several weeks ahead of schedule, allowing time to catalog recordings from three other Catholic social action collections preserved at Marquette.   A few of the gems processed in the waning weeks of the CLIR grant included speeches by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Robert F. Kennedy, Albert B. Cleage and Rabbi Abraham Heschel. Marquette is currently making plans to offer researchers streaming access to digital surrogates of the archival recordings via the Catholic Portal, anticipated in late 2012.

Further analysis is necessary in order to determine if item-level cataloging is warranted for primary source audio recordings within other processed archival collections and personal papers.    To date the response to greater discoverability has been promising.   Archivists have provided access to an assortment of cataloged materials, including use by professional writers, graduate students, and a young scholar working on a National History Day project.   This much is clear:  this partnership opportunity, afforded by our participation in the Catholic Research Resources Alliance, made securing major outside funding support for this initiative much easier.

Matt Blessing, Marquette University Libraries
Chair, CRRA Collections Committee (2011-2013)


 From the Five year Strategic Planning Task Force

Thank you for participating in the survey requesting your views on strategic directions for the CRRA.  Together, your responses (69, or 47% of those sent the survey) and the input from the more than 50 discussants at the Duquesne Symposium in November are providing us with a rich understanding of what you would like to see the CRRA doing and being in five years.   We are still in the early stages of our discussions, but I would like to highlight our framework and broad areas of interest.

The Task Force employs the “content and community” framework to keep its thinking targeted on strategies for enhancing access to Catholic research resources (content) and on the communities of scholars, archivists and librarians drawn to, collaborating through and participating in carrying out the mission (community).  This dual focus will impact the vision, strategies and initiatives for CRRA that the Task Force will propose. In addition to current emphases on growing content accessible via the portal, we anticipate the strategic plan will incorporate short- and long-term strategies and initiatives in the areas below.

  1. Add value beyond discovery: Transition to discovery and access to full text
  2. Develop collaborative opportunities with organizations with shared missions
  3. Expand pool of participating scholars and students
  4. Emphasize growth focused on making content available and/or accessible

Our report is due to the Board by the end of February. We will provide an update in January on the survey results and our work.  However, please feel free at any time to contact me or any member of the Five Year Strategic Plan Task Force.

With best wishes for a peaceful and wonderful Christmas,

Lorraine Olley, chair, Five year Strategic Planning Task Force and
Library Director, Feehan Memorial Library and McEssy Theological Resource Center
University of Saint Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary


CRRA in the News:  ACCU Update Highlights Duquesne Symposium and “Many Rare Catholic Materials Yet to be Digitized”

The Winter 2011 ACCU Update http://www.accunet.org/files/public/Update/Winter2011a.pdf   (p. 9) highlights two CRRA news items: the Duquesne Symposium and the recently completed survey of Digitized Rare Catholica.

Congratulations to Duquesne poster winners, Peter Beagle (Belmont Abbey) and Yannett Lathrop (St. Michael’s at Univ of Toronto)!  Look for more about the successful symposium in next month’s CRRA Update.

Please mark your calendars for …


 Best wishes for a most blessed and joyful Christmas. Peace is possible.


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