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Survey of Digitized Rare Catholica - Results

Bible Text

Marta Deyrup and Martha Loesch, catalogers at (CRRA instution) Seton Hall University, and Pat Lawton, digital projects librarian for the CRRA, have released the results of their Survey of Digitized Rare Catholica held by Catholic universities, colleges, seminaries and archives in the U.S. and Canada. You may view the Summary Report of Results and the results data.

Portal surgery

I was recently told to delete thousands upon thousands of records from the "Catholic Portal", and through the magic of the Solr's Web-based API and a full-featured HTTP client I was able to do this surgery with laser beam accuracy.

Specifically, I needed to delete all of the records in the Portal from the University of Notre Dame Archives because the Archives wanted to totally replace what finding aids were available. This meant deleting more than a 100,000 records from the underlying index. After a bit of investigation, I learned that at the following one-liner from the command line would do the trick:

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VuStuff II: A Travelogue

On Wednesday, October 12, 2011 I had the opportunity to attend and present at the second annual VuStuff meeting held at Falvey Library, Villanova University (Philadelphia). This posting documents my experience there, but in a nutshell, this small and intimate meeting provided a venue for interesting discussion on the topic of modern librarianship.

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CRRA Update Sept/Oct 2011

CRRA Update
September/October 2011

In this update …

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Indexing EAD files in the "Catholic Portal" with VUFind

This posting describes how EAD files are indexed in the "Catholic Portal" with VUFind.

VUFind is a "next-generation library catalog" or "discovery system" application. Its primary purpose is to index bibliographic metadata and provide a reader-friendly interface to the result. The heart of this process is a Solr index made up of many bibliographic-like fields. These fields are the usual suspects including a host of variants on author, title, institution, building, collection, language, format, physical description, publisher, published date, edition, description (note), contents, URL, call number, ISSN, ISBN, OCLC number, series, topic, genre, geographic, era, illustration, full text, and record type. In order for EAD files to be searchable in the Portal, they need to have their metadata extracted, the metadata needs to be mapped to Solr fields, and the metadata needs to be added to the index. The balance of this posting describes this in more detail.

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"Advancing Catholic Scholarship" Symposium at Duquesne Nov. 9-10


The registration deadline for this CRRA/Duquesne sponsored event is this Friday, October 15, 2011.  We are pleased that many of you have already registered for the event and if you have thought about registering, please do so now.  There is no fee to register.

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Archdiocese of Chicago

Last week a number of us visited the archives of the Archdiocese of Chicago, and I went away thoroughly impressed. Fireproof walls and doors. Systematic digitization. The implementation of retention policies. The papers of cardinals, rows and rows of baptismal records, and even the transcripts of school children. Very professional. Large. Seemingly well-equipped. Knowledgable staff. The are taking their responsibility seriously.

CRRA July/August 2011 Update

The July/August 2011 CRRA Update is now available at:

CRRA Update

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Progress with statistics reporting

Progress is being made when it comes to "Catholic Portal" VuFind statistics reporting.

Yesterday I broke down and re-wrote my log file import application. Instead of parsing the log, ingesting the results, and then post processing, I re-wrote the application so it does all of this in one pass. I also enhanced the program so it could take command line input. Specifically, if no arguments are supplied, then it will import yesterday's log data. Otherwise it expects two inputs: 1) a beginning date, and 2) an ending date. If given these inputs, then I can drop the entire database and re-create it almost effortlessly. The script is called, and it is now running under cron so the database gets updated daily.

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Advancing Catholic Scholarship: A Symposium at Duquesne [call for posters, details]

Dear CRRA Colleagues,

We are pleased to invite you, members of your staff, students and faculty at your institution to a symposium to be held November 9-10, 2011 at Duquesne University. Invited Catholic scholars and librarians will discuss the “state of the art” of Catholic scholarship, directions that scholarship is headed, and how libraries, archives, and member organizations support and nurture future Catholic scholars and scholarship.

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VUFind and sitemaps

In an effort to improve SEO (search engine optimization) I have done my best to implement sitemaps against the "Catholic Portal's" VUFind implementation.

Sitemaps are XML files listing all the individual files/resources of a website. The intention and structure of these files is documented at By exposing a site's content in this way Internet robots/spiders can slurp up sitemap files' URLs, go directly the resources without crawling, and index the content found there. In short, sitemaps make it easier for Internet indexers to do their job.

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VUFind, version 1.1 or so

I believe I have just finished upgrading the production version of VUFind -- the software driving the "Catholic Portal" -- to version RC3107 which is somewhere between version 1.1 and 1.2. This upgrade addresses at least a couple of usability issues, specifically:

  1. wording in regards the linking of online finding aids
  2. toggling the check box associated with filters

With this version there are also quite a number of additional records in the underlying index -- around 280,000. This is because the finding aids (EAD files) have been indexed more completely.

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How to upgrade VUFind

These are notes (to myself, mostly) on how to upgrade VUFind from a local "sandbox" version to a production version. But they are also documented here, just in case I win the lottery and start enjoying umbrella drinks on some Caribbean island.

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CRRA May/June 2011 Update

The May/June 2011 CRRA Update is now available at:

In this issue you will find news items regarding:

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This posting outlines the possibilities for ingesting PastPerfect content into the "Catholic Portal".

As membership in the Catholic Research Resources Alliance (CRRA) grows, so does the number of metadata formats the "Catholic Portal" is expected to support. When the CRRA was just beginning MARC was the predominate metadata format. After the content of university archives was recognized as significant, EAD became very important. Some institutions use neither MARC nor EAD to describe their special collections but instead use systems like ContentDM. These sorts of things are often accessible via OAI-PMH, and thus, at the very least, harvestable Dublin Core is available. In order to support discovery, all of these types of metadata need to be parsed, mapped to VuFind's underlying Solr schema, and indexed.

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Harvesting metadata

It is imperative for CRRA member institutions to make their metadata available for harvesting via a Web server.

A couple of years ago, when the "Portal" was just beginning, the modus operandi for ingesting MARC and EAD metadata was to send it to Notre Dame, save it on local hard disk, and index it. That process worked then, but as we grow it becomes less and less scalable.

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"Catholic Portal" usability efforts

This page has become the home page for the usability efforts of the "Catholic Portal".

The Digital Access Committee had a conference call on Thursday, May 12. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss usability studies. The resources (time and money) required to do the studies was emphasized. Similarly, the need to have the studies done with the intended audience of the Portal -- upper-class man, graduate students, faculty, and scholars -- was also stressed.

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This is the home page for a mailing list called CRRA-Tech.

The Catholic Research Resources Alliance (CRRA) or "Catholic Portal" brings together data and metadata for the purposes of Catholic research and scholarship. This process is facilitated through a number of groups dealing with administrtive issues, collection issues, metadata issues, etc. CRRA-Tech is a mailing list intended to support and discuss the computer technology issues of the CRRA such as but not limited to the harvesting of content and metadata, the validation of content and metadata, indexing technologies, library "discovery systems", the programming languages (PHP, Java, Perl, and Javascript) used, log file analysis, casscading stylesheets, debugging tools, the role of open source software, etc. In short, CRRA-Tech provides a forum for discussing the computer infrastructure of the Portal.

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CATLA Spring Conference

On Friday, April 15 I had the honor and pleasure of giving a presentation to the Chicago Area Theological Library Association. This posting documents the experience.

[caption id="attachment_343" align="aligncenter" width="320"]To and from Berrien Springs (MI) To and from Berrien Springs (MI)[/caption]

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April 2011 Update

The CRRA April 2011 Update is now available at:

Highlights in this issue include:

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