Document Type


Presentation Date


Conference or Event Name

Fostering Global Communication among Religions and Libraries

Conference Location

Columbus, OH


A 1997 circular letter from the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Patrimony of the Church said that “In the mind of the Church, archives are places of memory of the Christian community and storehouses of culture for the new evangelization.” As a tool for the evangelizing mission of the Church, it is vital that diocesan archives, as the official repositories of the American Catholic Church, are accessible to scholarly researchers and other patrons. A survey of diocesan archives examined how this category of archival repository is making information about their collections available on the internet. Diocesan websites were surveyed to collect data on repository websites, online finding aids and inventories, digital collections, and online versions of access and use policies. The survey revealed that diocesan archives are lagging behind many of their secular peers when it comes to making materials available through the internet to potential patrons. Diocesan archives have been shown to be heavily used by historians of American Catholic history, despite these accessibility issues. This survey revealed several areas for potential improvement of service, from low effort (making contact information easily findable), to complex (looking at successful collaborations between diocesan archives and institutions outside of the Church). These opportunities for improved online access to archival collections are applicable not only to diocesan archives, but to any archival repository aiming to improve services and increase use of their collections.