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Preservation Survey Results Released by ATLA

Chicago, IL, October 7, 2014 – The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) awarded the American Theological Library Association (ATLA) and its partners the Catholic Library Association (CLA) and the Association of Jewish Libraries (AJL) a National Leadership Grant for the project ”In Good Faith:  Collection Care, Preservation, and Access in Small Theological and Religious Studies Libraries.” A report on the project’s main activity, a survey on preservation and collections care issues at small libraries and archives based at theological and religious studies organizations, has just been published and is available to download.

Key findings of the survey included:

  • A lack of policies for preservation and digitization, although the number of organizations which include preservation in their mission statements and those with collection policies was high;
  • The need to develop disaster plans, digital collection plans and policies, and environmental monitoring and control procedures;
  • A need to conduct preservation needs assessment surveys of collections, policies, and buildings; 
  • A strong need to improve overall financial and staff support for preservation at institutions with budgets below $100,000;
  • Expanding capacity for collection processing, cataloging and finding aid development to increase discoverability of collections and their usage is also a strong need.

ATLA Executive Director Brenda Bailey-Hainer noted, “This collaborative effort reached a wide array of library and archival institutions in theological and religious studies communities, and we were able to learn about preservation needs from many of the smaller organizations in the field.  ATLA, CLA, and AJL will continue to work together to provide information, education, and support to help these organizations build preservation programs that address the identified needs.”

The Spring 2014 survey was targeted to organizations with staff sizes of less than five full time equivalent, and budgets under $500,000.  In addition to ATLA, CLA, and AJL members, the project partners reached out to other religious libraries and archives. The resulting 235 responses represented one of the largest surveys on preservation and digital practices in theological and religious organizations which has ever been completed.  Responses were received from a wide variety of organizations, including those which are part of educational institutions, organizations affiliated with churches, synagogues, or other houses of worship, independent libraries and archives, and various other types of theological and religious based collecting organizations.

The partner organizations defined the target audiences as cultural heritage organizations which are part of a formal or established organization, have a library, archive, or other research collection which includes religious and/or theological materials, have religious and/or theological historical or rare materials as part of the library, archive, or research collection, and  have at least one contact person (volunteer or salaried, full-time or part-time) responsible for the care/management of the research collection that could serve as the contact for the survey. 

The partner organizations will be addressing the findings of the survey in communications with their membership, and will explore other collaborative preservation and digitization initiatives in the future.

IMLS National Leadership Grants for Libraries support projects that address challenges faced by the museum, library, and/or archive fields and that have the potential to advance practice in those fields. IMLS offers grants to help make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive.


About ATLA

Established in 1946, the American Theological Library Association (ATLA) is a professional association of individual, institutional, and affiliate members providing programs, products and services for theological and religious studies libraries and librarians. For more information visit

About AJL

The Association of Jewish Libraries promotes Jewish literacy through enhancement of libraries and library resources and through leadership for the profession and practitioners of Judaica librarianship. The Association fosters access to information, learning, teaching and research relating to Jews, Judaism, the Jewish experience and Israel.  To learn more, please visit

About CLA

Established in 1921, the Catholic Library Association is an international membership organization, providing its members professional development through educational and networking experiences, publications, scholarships, and other services. The Catholic Library Association coordinates the exchange of ideas, provides a source of inspirational support and guidance in ethical issues related to librarianship, and offers fellowship for those who seek, serve, preserve, and share the word in all its forms.  To learn more, please visit

About IMLS

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. Our mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Our grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit and follow IMLS on Facebook and Twitter.


Press Contact

Brenda Bailey-Hainer, +1.312.454.5100 +1.312.454.5100 ext. 4429,