Atla’s research tools rely on the applied expertise of Atla’s team of metadata editors and analysts. Atla’s metadata analysts and editors synthesize research from a wide range of academic resources and make decisions about the most relevant subjects to include in the records in our databases to support discovery by our community of researchers and students. Their depth of knowledge ensures that Atla’s research tools support the successful discovery of relevant research from diverse academic sources.
This month we feature Metadata Editor Joel Schorn
Joel was born and raised just west of Chicago in Oak Park, Illinois, and is a lifelong resident of Chicagoland. After graduating high school, he attended Shimer College, a former satellite campus of the University of Chicago before transitioning to an independent college, Shimer followed the so-called Hutchins Plan for its curriculum, an experimental educational system developed by and named after U. of Chicago President Robert Maynard Hutchins. Known as a “great books” institution, the focus is placed on reading writings of high merit and practicing “shared inquiry,” in which discussions are then held in class and papers are written synthesizing the discussion. Joel credits this form of education with providing him with invaluable knowledge in the humanities, social science, and the history of natural science as well as skills of reading, critical thinking, dialogue, and writing he has used ever since.
Joel earned his Bachelor of Arts with great distinction from this institution, writing his senior thesis on the religious philosophy of Hegel. His time at Shimer gave him a foundation of theology, including studying the Pietists, Schleiermacher, and Kierkegaard, and he then went on to earn a Master of Theological Studies degree from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston. Other educational credentials Joel has earned include a graduate certification in philanthropy and nonprofit management from Loyola University in Chicago.
Atla provided Joel with his first professional job after finishing graduate school, and he was thrilled to be given an opportunity to immediately work in the theological studies field. He was hired to index for the Religion Index One Retrospective project, indexing titles in the Religion Database through their earliest available volumes. When that project was completed, he stayed on with Atla to work as an indexer with Religion Index One: Periodicals and eventually took on editorial and managerial roles with that Index.
For a time Joel’s career took him away from Atla. He worked as an editor for Claretian Publications in Chicago, the publishing arm of the Claretian Missionaries, where he worked on U.S. Catholic magazine and as the Managing Editor of Martin E. Marty’s CONTEXT newsletter, the latter of which he describes as one of the great experiences of his career. He then worked as an editor for TrueQuest Communications in Chicago, which published VISION, an annual Catholic religious vocation magazine. During this time, he began freelancing as an indexer for the Catholic Library Association’s Catholic Periodical & Literature Index. When Atla took ownership of the CPLI, Joel returned to Atla as an Indexer and now works as a Metadata Editor.
A generalist in religious and theological studies, Joel most often indexes Roman Catholic periodicals, but also many other areas of coverage, with his favorite topics including theology, philosophy, history, and biblical studies. He covers many of the canon law journals in Atla’s databases, having done fieldwork with the Metropolitan Tribunal of the Archdiocese of Chicago. He indexes material in German, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and some East European languages as well as English.
When asked what role he believes Atla fills in the religion and theology space, Joel said, “Atla has always occupied a major space in religious and theological studies as the go-to, indispensable guide to finding scholarly works, particularly periodical literature. Even when I started it was international and ecumenical, but it has developed and continues to develop a global outreach to remain a leader in coverage and relevance to scholars and librarians.”
I am also impressed with Atla’s ability to support its membership and keep pace with the ever-changing world of information science. It is a big challenge to continually add publications and bibliographic records and yet maintain high standards of metadata accuracy, especially subject analysis.
Outside of his work with Atla, Joel has written several articles for the religious press and two books for Franciscan Media, Holy Simplicity: The Little Way of Therese of Lisieux, Dorothy Day, and Mother Teresa and God’s Doorkeepers on the Capuchin Franciscan friars Solanus Casey and Padre Pio and the Holy Cross brother Andre Bessette. He has written book reviews for the Anglican Theological Review and Mission Studies and worked for the University of Notre Dame’s Satellite Theological Education Program (STEP), serving as a course facilitator for various online adult theological studies. He is passionate about architectural and Chicago history and volunteers as an architectural docent with the Frank Lloyd Trust and the Glessner House Museum. Additionally, he is a part-time tour guide with the historic Auditorium Theatre and a library page with the Chicago Public Library.
He lives in downtown Chicago, where he enjoys access to its many amenities and cultural institutions without the need for a car. He lives with his wife, whom he met through Atla more than 30 years ago when she edited the former Index to Book Reviews in Religion (IBRR). They share their home with their two beloved rescue cats, who run the show.
We asked Joel to highlight some titles in Atla’s research tools that he has indexed and is excited about
The Journal for Interdisciplinary Biblical Studies, published by the University of Sheffield, invites cutting-edge articles that embody interdisciplinary, social justice-oriented, feminist, queer, and innovative biblical scholarship. They welcome submissions that challenge canonical and/or disciplinary norms and boundaries or that query the field of biblical studies’ relationship to the broader investigation of human religion, culture, and literature. Joel writes that this journal, “reflects some of the leading edges in biblical studies.” Indexed in Atla Religion Database, full text in Atlas.
Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry, published by The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, has acquired a well-deserved reputation for publishing authoritative material on all aspects of Polish Jewry. Contributions are drawn from many disciplines: history, politics, religious studies, literature, linguistics, sociology, art, and architecture from a wide variety of viewpoints. Indexed in Atla Religion Database.
Joel recently co-presented at a webinar hosted by Atla, “Searching in Atla’s Research Databases: Catholic Church Documents and Canon Law,” providing an overview of researching these subjects within Atla’s tools. You can view the recording of this webinar here.
Find more information about coverage and how to access Atla’s trusted research tools on religion and theology.
Read more information on how content is evaluated and how to recommend a title for inclusion in Atla’s research tools.
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