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Compass Newsletter Masthead
   Volume IV, Issue 2
November 2007   

A bridge to history for Falvey Memorial Library: the American Catholic Historical Society and the Digital Library

Louis N. Ferrero and Joe Lucia
Villanova University's Digital Library will have a new project this year as it begins to chronicle and digitize countless historical items from the American Catholic Historical Society (ACHS), the nation’s oldest Catholic historical association.

On Oct. 17, a ceremony marking the agreement was held in Falvey Memorial Library. The Rev. Dennis Gallagher, O.S.A., University archivist, offered the invocation, and as librarians Michael Foight and Darren Poley welcomed those in attendance, some honored guests, particularly members of the ACHS leadership, were acknowledged. ACHS members joined the library staff and other Villanova officials for photographs.

The groundbreaking agreement was signed by Joe Lucia, director of Falvey Memorial Library, Louis N. Ferrero, P.E., president of ACHS and the Rev. Msgr. James P. McCoy, executive director of ACHS.

Lucia said that the agreement was an emblematic one for the Falvey Memorial Library and Villanova University as a whole. “It’s a culmination of much work and a continuation of it, as we take important resources and digitalize them, making them visible to the world,” he added.

The new partnership between the Library and ACHS will result in the scanning and documentation of several rare Catholic items to the library web site, where they will be available to everyone. The digitalization will begin with early editions of American Catholic Studies, an academic journal published by ACHS since 1887. Formerly known as Records, the journal is the oldest American Catholic scholarly journal in continuous publication.

Coincidentally, the first president of ACHS was Rev. Thomas C. Middleton, O.S.A., who also served as Villanova University’s first University librarian from 1865-1923 and as Villanova University’s 10th president from 1876-1878. Middleton Hall is named in his honor.

The Digital Library, under the leadership of Foight and Bente Polites, special collections librarian, assembles, presents and preserves digital collections that support the teaching and research of the campus and global communities. Over 2200 documents have been “digitalized” since 2006. One of the oldest documents is a handwritten script of the Augustinian Regula or Rule of St. Augustine. The manuscript dates back to 1431, according to curatorial assistant Teri Incrovato ’02. Polites noted that much can be learned from these documents.

A full-length feature article on the Digital Library and its projects can be found in the spring 2007 issue of Villanova Magazine. The regular Compass "Blue Electrode" columns (see this issue's column on Wikipedia) highlight happenings in the Digital Library.

Group Signing
(From left) Dr. Roger Van Allen, ACHS board member; Rev. Msgr. James P. McCoy, ACHS executive director; Louis N. Ferrero, ACHS president; Joe Lucia, University librarian; Dr. Craig M. Wheeland, associate vice president for Academic Affairs; and Michael Foight, Special Collections and Digital Library coordinator.

Contributed by Anthony Maalouf GS; photographs by Chris Barr (top) and John Welsh (lower)