2013 “In Good Faith:” Collection Care, Preservation, and Access in Small Theological and Religious Studies Libraries
In September 2013, Atla, in partnership with the Catholic Library Association (CLA) and the Association of Jewish Libraries (AJL) received a 2013 National Leadership Grants for Libraries Planning Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences (IMLS) for the project “In Good Faith: Collection Care, Preservation, and Access in Small Theological and Religious Studies Libraries.”
During the grant period, Atla, the CLA, and the AJL assessed the collection care, preservation, and access practices of small theological and religious studies libraries and begin to identify valuable and vulnerable collections held in these institutions. An Advisory Committee, including members of the project’s partners and representatives of the research community, were assembled.
The centerpiece of the project was a survey designed for and deployed to institutions that may not have previously been included in such studies. Existing standards and practices that help libraries respond to their unique circumstances will be promoted to the targeted libraries and at the same time, the partners will communicate the challenges and opportunities faced by these libraries to the larger library and research communities. Finally, the project will explore collaborative initiatives to respond to identified long-term collection care, preservation, and access needs.
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.
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 www.imls.gov and follow IMLS on Facebook and Twitter.
“In Good Faith”
The “In Good Faith” Advisory Committee included representatives from each of the three partner associations — Atla, CLA, and AJL. Each association provided an experienced member leader and a representative from a small library to serve on the advisory group, ensuring that the project proceeds with the needs of small libraries represented.
Additionally, the advisory group included the perspectives of library users, scholars, or researchers, especially with experience from the Association of Theological Schools and the American Academy of Religion. Project consultants Liz Bishoff and Tom Clareson facilitated the work of the advisory group with Brenda Bailey-Hainer, Atla Executive Director, serving in an ex-officio capacity.
The Atla 2012 Preservation Survey, available to the association’s 282 institutional and affiliate member libraries in the United States and Canada, from October through December 2012, was accessed by ninety-six libraries, a 34.0% response rate, and completed by ninety-five, a 33.7% completion rate.Read
- Dr. Sharon A. Taylor, Donald G. Miller Librarian and Director of the Clifford E. Barbour Library, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary
- Michael Boddy, Director of Luhr Reading and Reference Library, Eden Theological Seminary
Association of Jewish Librarians
- Elizabeth F. Stabler, Librarian, Stettenheim Library, Temple Emanu-El
- Ilka Gordon, Director, Aaron Garber Library, Jewish Education Center of Cleveland
Catholic Library Association
- Malachy McCarthy, Archivist, Claretian Missionaries Archives USA
- Grant Gerlich, Archivist, Mercy Heritage Center
Scholars and Researchers
- Emily Suzanne Clark, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Religion, Florida State University
- Dr. Ida E. Jones, Assistant Curator in the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University
- Liz Bishoff, Consultant, The Bishoff Group
- Tom Clareson, Consultant, Lyrasis
- Brenda Bailey-Hainer, Executive Director, Atla
Atla, CLA, and AJL conducted a web-based survey to assess current preservation activities and future needs for small theological and religious studies libraries and organizations. The project partners used the survey results to inform plans for potential future grant funding and to expand and enhance educational services for theological and religious studies libraries and organizations.
For the purposes of this survey, participants should work in what they consider a small library, archive, or research collection and:
- be part of a formal or established institution (i.e., not a personal collection)
- have a library, archive, or other research collection that includes religious and/or theological materials
- have religious or theological historical or rare materials as part of the library, archive, or research collection
- have at least one contact person (volunteer or salaried; full-time or part-time) responsible for the care/management of the research collection
By completing the survey, participants were entered into a random drawing for one of 25 $100 Amazon gift certificates. Certificate recipients were randomly selected from all those who complete the survey. Selection of recipients of the certificates took place at the conclusion of the survey.
Each institution was asked to submit only one response to the survey so that the voice of every institution would be heard equally. To protect the confidentiality of responses, all questionnaires were tabulated by an independent research firm, and findings will only be reported in the aggregate.
The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) awarded Atla and its partners, CLA, and AJL, a National Leadership Grant for the project ”In Good Faith: Collection Care, Preservation, and Access is 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, is now available.
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.”
Consultants Liz Bishoff and Tom Clareson offered two free webinars reporting on the survey results from the “In Good Faith” project.
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