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Catholic resources are highly valued by scholars in many disciplines. The Catholic intellectual tradition and the scholarship associated to it encompasses the experiences of a flourishing Church, one currently made up of a billion humans that live on each of the continents and one whose history reaches back over two millennia. 

As early as 2001, scholars, librarians, and archivists from Catholic college, university, and seminary libraries and archives were discussing the need to make Catholic resources visible in the larger context of a subject library. Participants spoke about the unique resources of their institutions as well as the challenges of providing access to these types of resources in other institutions. Just as no individual library can collect all materials, no single library can provide a comprehensive guide to resources in special collections.

While abundant in numbers, these resources are scattered among many special collections and archives and often known only to those at the institution. Those involved in the discussion agreed that a collaborative initiative to create a virtual library of these unique and uncommon resources would enhance their capacity to support the teaching, learning, and research of their faculty and students.

The CRRA mission is firmly grounded in the nexus of faith and reason -- that the past, present, and future Catholic intellectual tradition and scholarship be used to study and inform the challenges of the 21st century. 

In 2008, with a vision and mission to create enduring permanent global access to Catholic resources in the Americas, the CRRA was established by eight founding institutions:

Boston College
Catholic University of America
Georgetown University
Marquette University
Seton Hall University
St. Edward's University
University of Notre Dame
University of San Diego.

The CRRA's intent was and is to lay the foundation for a collaborative and sustainable initiative through the development of a "portal' containing rare and unique Catholic resources and a supporting membership organization.