In this Issue:

Feature Article: Interview with Michael Skaggs
From the Board
Committee Briefs
Newspapers Project Tech Corner Collection Highlights News from Our Members
News From CRRA
For Your Consideration Save the Date!

Feature Article

Interview with Michael Skaggs

Michael Skaggs is a doctoral candidate in the Department of History at the University of Notre Dame. He studies religion in the American Midwest, and is particularly interested in how interfaith organizations addressed social problems. He was kind enough to answer a few questions about his research and how CRRA can help.

What is your current area of research?
Right now, I'm working on a dissertation chapter on Catholic racial activism in 1960s Cincinnati. Partly those men and women did so because they got involved in the contemporary civil rights movement, but the Second Vatican Council's call for the laity to be active in society had something to do with it, too. But I think the blend of those two motivations is more complicated than it seems at first.

More generally, my dissertation asks how Catholics in one midwestern place - Cincinnati, Ohio - responded to the Second Vatican Council, and how the presence of a substantial Jewish community inflected that response. This presents us with a fascinating opportunity to understand the real richness of American Catholicism, which I think we miss out on if we overlook places like Cincinnati, which usually don’t seem to be all that important to us.

Graduate students in search of dissertation topics are well-positioned to draw attention to topics and places long untouched by scholars! And while there are many scholars across the career timeline ready to embrace digitization, I think the younger generation has a natural ability to work with these resources – maybe even an impatience to do things “the old way.” This is a transitional moment in academia, though, so there’s a real need for students and future scholars to straddle the line between technologies old and new.

For the rest of the interview, visit the CRRA Blog.

From the Board

Stephen Connaghan, Chair and University Librarian, The Catholic University of America

The snow is melting and spring is almost here. For most of us, this is the time when we look ahead and begin developing plans for the coming year. The same is true for CRRA and in its winter quarter meeting, the Board will focus on how we can look strategically at priorities and goals. Committees and Councils  play a major role in developing and carrying out plans and we work closely with them.

Fundraising for the Vatican II Years (1958-1972) Digitization Project continues.  The significance of this new and transformative digital resource is best visualized in the words of those who will benefit.  From The Most Reverend Gregory M. Aymond, Archbishop of New Orleans: “The Catholic Church needs to have its history easily accessible to researchers and interested readers, Catholic and non-Catholic alike. The CRRA digitizing project will allow us to tell our story directly and effectively."


CRRA members and partners lead the Catholic Newspapers Program and the digitizing projects. Twenty members and partners have pledged $56,000 toward a target of $152,000 and convey to others the importance of this project. As we move toward opening this project to libraries and archives beyond CRRA to secure total project funding of $443,000, I encourage all CRRA members to join with their colleagues and invest in this project.

Committee Briefs

Liaisons Bulletin

Ximena Valdivia (Barry), Liaisons Council Chair, has published the 4th Liaisons Council Bulletin. This bulletin contains timely and useful information, check it out! This month’s bulletin includes member news of grants won, numerous grant opportunities, results of the recent Liaisons survey, and upcoming events of potential interest.

All bulletins are viewable on Liaisons page.

Among other topics, the Liaisons’ Survey examined member use of LibGuides and links to CRRA resources. We are pleased to see so many members using LibGuides and linking to CRRA resources, we encourage all to consider adding CRRA links to your local website and subject guides. See Ted Bergfelt’s report in this newsletter on the many CRRA subject guides his group has been developing and sharing on the CRRA website. These are intended for use by all. Thanks to Ximena and to Ted for their initiatives and service in advancing the CRRA mission and global sharing of Catholic resources.

Collections Committee

Diane Maher, Chair Collections Committee, University of San Diego

Publishing opportunity: The CRRA Collections Committee has proposed writing a group of essays describing CRRA member collections (with an introduction about CRRA and the Catholic Portal) for the fall issue of Theological Librarianship. Individual essays would highlight collections that have been (or will soon be) contributed to the portal and can be any length up to 3000 words. We are looking for CRRA members who are interested in writing an essay for this project. If you would like to participate, please contact: Diane Maher.

Collections Committee - LibGuides Sub-Committee

For over a year now, there have been a number of LibGuides available on the CRRA website that were specifically created so that CRRA member libraries that subscribe to LibGuides could copy these guides and provide their users with informational guides about CRRA and the Catholic Portal.

Now CRRA has its own growing collection of CRRA-branded LibGuides, designed to assist users of the Catholic Portal in finding print and electronic resources available through the Portal or on member library or archival websites. These guides were created by members of CRRA’s Subject Guides Subcomittee. There are currently seven Catholic Portal subject guides, with the most recent being on African American Catholics. Most of these guides link users directly to appropriate electronic collections in CRRA libraries, also contain links that will search the Portal for books and other items in the Portal, and link to other information resources related to the topic of the guide.

You can find links to these subject guides in three places on the CRRA website: on the home page, on the Catholic Portal page, and on the Links & Resources page. At this point, these subject guides are mainly hosted by Duquesne University, but CRRA is exploring the idea of having its own LibGuides subscription to make CRRA-branded subject guides easier to create and manage.

Future CRRA subject guides will be based on the twelve collecting themes, and on which topics are most frequently searched in the Catholic Portal. If you have a suggestion for a CRRA subject guide, please send your suggestion to Ted Bergfelt (, chair of the CRRA Subject Guides Subcommittee.


Demian Katz, DAC Chair

Metadata group activities:

Late last year, the Digital Access Committee spun off a Metadata Advisory Committee, under the leadership of Georgetown’s Shana McDanold. This group, consisting of metadata specialists, will provide recommendations and best practices in response to the many metadata-related challenges that come up during the course of DAC discussions. Currently, work is underway on several tasks, including construction of templates for adding records to the Catholic Portal; discussion of representing collection themes in the Portal; and reviewing the indexing rules used by VuFind (the software powering the Portal). Expect to hear more from this group in the future!

Help Wanted: Catholic Portal VuFind Upgrade Volunteer

The Catholic Portal VuFind Upgrade Volunteer will ensure that the VuFind software powering CRRA’s Catholic Portal remains up to date by reconciling local customizations with upstream changes. The volunteer will be trained by VuFind lead developer Demian Katz and will be provided with information on tools and best practices to automate most of the process. Knowledge of Git version control software is extremely helpful, as is a working understanding of PHP, HTML and CSS. The volunteer will help ensure that the Catholic portal remains up to date, and in the process will gain experience with open source software maintenance and deployment. The time investment for this position will vary based on experience, but it is likely to require a 2-6 hour time commitment over the course of two weeks for training, followed by an ongoing investment of about two hours every six months to keep up with VuFind’s release cycle.

Please contact Demian Katz for more information or to volunteer.

Welcome to New Member, Edgewood College

A Catholic college in the Dominican tradition, Edgewood College affirms its Catholic heritage and respect for other religious traditions, offering a liberal arts education with over 60 majors and international study opportunities to 1,900 undergraduates and graduate programs in education, business and nursing to 900 graduate students. Its main campus is in Madison, WI.

The Oscar Rennebohm Library collections include archival record and manuscript collections from the Sinsinawa Dominicans and the College. Although access is currently through old paper records, library staff are cataloging and selectively digitizing these unique resources which relate to portal themes on Religious Orders and Education. Phoenix from the Fire, an electronic version of a book on the history of the college written by a Dominican sister, is held only in a small number of libraries but is heavily used online through their digital collections in Recollection Wisconsin.

Sylvia Contreras, Director, looks forward to joining with other Dominican universities in CRRA to build a more comprehensive collection about the Dominican Order, or as it is also known, the Order of Preachers.

Newspapers Project

Updated Listing of Priority Papers

Nick Casas, CRL Project Coordinator for CRRA

Please note the newly updated list of Priority Papers

The first change is a clarification on the scope of Priority Papers for digitization. To qualify as a Priority Paper on the local level, the newspaper must be officially published by the city's respective diocese or archdiocese. Each of the local papers has been divided by cities like before, and the newspapers that were published by the Church are included in bullet points. Some titles have been added and removed some titles based on WorldCat searches, newspaper reference sources, and conversations with partners.

The second change is adding the Pittsburgh and Miami papers. Duquesne University has completely digitized the Pittsburgh Catholic, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Pittsburgh and St. Thomas University has digitized the Miami paper.  We thank them for their important contributions.

The third change is adding more detail to the Catholic News Service. We will be digitizing both the news service and the collection of photographs called "Catholic World in Pictures."  

The last change is adding specific start and end dates to each newspaper.

If there are any questions and concerns regarding the list such as titles and dates, please contact CRRA or Nick Casas.

Tech Corner

Recent Website Updates

Josh Dinsman, CRRA Website Manager

New Subject Guides page on the CRRA website.

This winter has seen the addition of several new features on the CRRA website. One of these, viewable on the home page and on the Catholic Newspapers Program page, is our fundraising tracker, which is tracking the early pledges from our member and partner institutions for our Vatican II Years phase of our Catholic Newspaper Digitizing Project. Several new reports, bulletins, and other resources have also been added to the website, including our Google Analytics Winter 2016 Report, our new monthly Liaisons Council Bulletins, as well as two wonderful research tools, the Guide to Catholic Literature and the Catholic Periodical Index. A new page has been created under the Catholic Portal tab, entitled Subject Guides, which now serves as a hub for our growing collection of Portal subject guides. Finally, the redesign of the home page is nearly complete and now features the logos of our member and partner institutions, as well as a newly updated rotating exhibit showcasing various collections of holy cards.

CRRA EAD Template

Kevin Cawley, University of Notre Dame

The CRRA EAD Template is a Windows program that allows CRRA members to generate valid EAD (Encoded Archival Description) finding aids. You can fill out a simple form in a text editor, save it, and use Windows' drag and drop feature to generate appropriate EAD markup.

The template can be found on the CRRA website, along with instructions for using it. Click here to download the zip file, which members can find on the page linked above.

Collection Highlights

The Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project

Kyle Roberts, Loyola University Chicago

The Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project (JLPP) was launched in March 2014 to create a visual archive of provenance marks from historic Jesuit college, seminary, and university library collections and to foster a participatory community interested in the history of these books.
Nineteenth-century Jesuits never met a book that they didn't like to stamp their name on. This stamp is found on books from Loyola's original library collection (c.1870).

Founded by students, faculty, and library professionals at Loyola University Chicago, the Provenance Project is an outgrowth of an earlier project [] to reconstruct the holdings listed in Loyola’s original (c.1878) library catalog in an innovative virtual library system. That project, which was the subject of a graduate seminar at Loyola in Fall 2013 and will launch later this year, brought together graduate students in Digital Humanities, History, and Public History to recreate the nineteenth-century library catalog in a twenty-first century open source Integrated Library System (ILS). In the course of researching the approximately 5100 titles listed in the original catalog, students discovered that upwards of 1750 might still be held in the collections of Loyola’s Cudahy Library, the Library Storage Facility, and University Archives and Special Collections. A handful of undergraduate and graduate students formed the Provenance Project the following semester to see how many of these books actually survived. As they pulled books off the shelves and opened them up, they discovered a range of provenance marks – bookplates, inscriptions, stamps, shelf-marks, and other notations – littering the inside covers, flyleaves, and title pages of these books. Students soon realized that if the original library catalog could tell them what books the Jesuits collected, provenance marks could reveal from where the books came.

To view the rest of this fascinating article, head on over to the CRRA Blog.

News from Our Members

Morgen MacIntosh Hodgetts, liaison librarian to the Department of Catholic Studies at DePaul University, was interviewed on her experience in selecting archival resources and working with students in Professor Emanuele Colombo’s course on Roman Catholic Theological Thinking (CTH 243) in the spring of 2015. Morgen notes that she was “pretty surprised” with the students’ reaction, in that “they were silent…silent in a good way…they were absolutely engrossed” with the materials selected from the DeAndreis-Rosati Memorial Archives.

The whole interview can be viewed on the DePaul University Library website.

News from CRRA

Google Analytics Winter 2016 Report: A Review of Google Analytics Data from January 1 – December 31, 2015

by Josh Dinsman, CRRA Web Manager

Each year CRRA utilizes data from Google Analytics to track usage statistics for the CRRA website. In calendar year 2015, the website recorded 29,002 browsing sessions conducted by 23,595 users, who catalogued a total of 89,322 page views. These numbers represent increases of 14%, 15%, and 9%, respectively, over calendar year 2014. New visitors comprised 80.48% of total site visits and viewed, on average, 2.28 pages per session, while returning visitors viewed an average of 6.36 pages per session. The vast majority of sessions originated in the United States; however, compared to 2014, the number of sessions originating outside of the U.S. increased substantially: Asia (+42.59%), Africa (+26.24%), Oceania (+21.37%), the Americas (+13.00%), and Europe (+8.49%). Traffic to the CRRA website is brought in overwhelmingly through organic searches (77.43%) with Google as the primary search engine of choice (73.41%). Finally, for those visitors using site search when visiting the website, the top five search terms in 2015 were “Parish histories,” “Parish History,” “Catholic Church,” “Catholic pamphlets,” and “liturgical art.” To see the complete Winter 2016 report, click here.

For Your Consideration

Call for Catholic Cookery Sources

Loyola Chicago undergraduate Guy Valponi is researching Italian Catholic cooking traditions for his primary source research paper for Loyola's Ramonat Seminar in American Catholic History and Culture. His blog post outlines his thoughts for his research paper. Anyone who might have primary sources that could be useful for his project is encouraged to contact Guy directly.

Save the Date!

CRRA's Spring 2016 Annual Meeting

Planning is underway for a meeting to be held late May or June 2016. By popular request, we will meet on site and online, making it possible for all members and colleagues to participate in the program. Send your ideas and/or volunteer to be part of the planning to Jennifer Younger.

2016 University of San Diego Digital Initiatives

April 27-28, 2016 at the University of San Diego.

The 2016 annual Digital Initiatives Symposium will be sponsored by the University of San Diego’s Copley Library on April 27th-28th.  Due to popular demand, the Symposium is extended to a day and a half. The Symposium’s call for proposals will be out in September. 

Please check out highlights of the 2015 Symposium at this link

If you have questions about the 2016 Symposium, please contact Theresa Byrd at either or 619-260-7522.

2016 American Theological Association Annual Conference

will be held in Long Beach, California, on June 15-18, hosted by SCATLA (Southern California Theological Library Association). The conference will bring together a wealth of educational programs, interest group meetings, excursions, and events. For more information, please click here. The 2016 Catholic Library Association Annual Convention in conjunction with National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) will be held in San Diego, California, on March 29-31, 2016. The NCEA Convention & Expo is the largest private-education association gathering in the nation. Those participating represent all aspects of Catholic school and faith-based education from preschool, elementary, secondary, adult education, colleges and universities.

The Promise of the Vatican Library International Conference

An international academic conference highlighting the holdings of the  Vatican Library and opportunities for future research. May 8-10, 2016, at the University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN. 

  • H.E. Msgr. Jean-Louis Bruguès, O.P., Archivist and Librarian of the Holy Roman Church
  • Carmela Vircillo Franklin, Columbia University
  • James Hankins, Harvard University

For more information and to register, head over to

Pre-IFLA Satellite Program, August 12, 2016

IFLA Religious Libraries in Dialogue Special Interest Group (RELINDIAL SIG) invites all to its pre-IFLA satellite program on Friday 12 August 2016, Columbus OH. The program will be held at Ohio Dominican University. The theme is Fostering Global Scholarly Communication among Religions and Libraries.

2016 CLA Annual Convention

Catholic Library Association invites all members to attend the 2016 Annual Convention, March 29-31, 2016 in San Diego, CA. CLA meets in conjunction with National Catholic Educational Association during Easter Week each year.

More information regarding the NCEA Convention can be found here.

Copyright © 2016 CRRA, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp