American Theological Library Association

American Theological Library Association

The American Theological Library Association (ATLA) is a professional organization of religious and theological libraries in the United States with more than 800 members. ATLA was founded in 1946 and is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization incorporated in the state of Illinois.

Mission Statement

cquote|The mission of the American Theological Library Association is to foster the study of theology and religion by enhancing the development of theological and religious libraries and librarianship. In pursuit of this mission, the Association undertakes:
#To foster the professional growth of its members, and to enhance their ability to serve their constituencies as administrators and librarians;
#To advance the profession of theological librarianship, and to assist theological librarians in defining and interpreting the proper role and function of libraries in theological education;
#To promote quality library and information services in support of teaching, learning, and research in theology, religion, and related disciplines and to create such tools and aids (including publications) as may be helpful in accomplishing this; (and)
#To stimulate purposeful collaboration among librarians of theological libraries and religious studies collections; and to develop programmatic solutions to information-related problems common to those librarians and collections. [ [ About ATLA] from official web-site.]


The first step toward the creation of ATLA came at the 1946 biennial meeting of the American Association of Theological Schools when presidents and deans in attendance asked the AATS executive committee to call a conference of theological librarians. In June 1947, fifty theological librarians, one president, and one dean met in Louisville, Kentucky to organize a permanent association and plan the future agenda of the American Theological Library Association. The group identified six major areas to address and assigned responsibilities for them: 1. AATS Booklist, 2. Cataloging and Classification, 3. Periodical Exchange, 4. Periodical Indexing, 5. Publications, and 6. Training of Personnel.

Programs developed rapidly in the new Association, including the following milestones:
*1952: The Committee on Religious Periodical Indexing coordinated the efforts of twenty libraries to create the first volume of the Index to Religious Periodical Literature (later Religion Index One: RIO).
*1957: A Board of Index was established and a Board of Microtext was organized to pursue the preservation of library materials.
*1961-1966: The ATLA Library Development Program, funded by the Sealantic Fund, provided more than $1,300,000 in book and professional development funds to nearly ninety participating institutions.
*1976: The first volume of Religion Index Two: Multi-Author Works (RIT) was published, later supplemented by a Festschriften (1960-1969) volume prepared by Elmer and Betty O'Brien and RIT: Multi-Author Works, 1970-1975.
*1980-1984: The Lilly Foundation funded Project 2000, a study to reassess the role of libraries in theological education.
*1981: The ATLA Religion Database first became available online, providing an electronic version of the print indexes.
*1986: Book reviews were removed from the print RIO and expanded into a new product, the Index to Book Reviews in Religion (IBRR); RIO, RIT and IBRR were also available via the Religion Database.

More recent activities of ATLA include:
*establishing relationships with theological library associations in Latin America, Europe, and Asia;
*working with the Association of Theological Schools to revise accreditation standards for libraries;
*developing the ATLASerials product, a full-text database of more than 140 journals, selected from the more than 500 titles indexed in the ATLA Religion Database;
*coordinating the Cooperative Digital Resources Initiative (CDRI), which provides a shared database for digital resources created by member libraries;
*establishing an online journal, "Theological Librarianship."


* "ATLA Newsletter" (quarterly)
* "Summary of Proceedings" (annual)
* "Theology Cataloging Bulletin" (quarterly)
* "Theological Librarianship"

ATLA also issues various bibliographic resources, indexes to periodicals, multi-author works, and book reviews in religion. These include the ATLA Religion Database, and ATLA Serials (ATLAS), a collection of major religion and theology journals, launched in 2001. ATLAS has fully digitized article text going back to 1949. []


External links

* [ ATLA Official site]

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