THE CARMELITE LIBRARY PROJECT
Carmelite Librarians Meet in France to Further Cooperation
Twenty-four participants representing nineteen different libraries belonging to the Carmelite Order met at Les Naudiers Conference Center in Nantes France from January 5-7th 2006. The meeting was convoked and chaired by Father Mark Attard, O.Carm., General Delegate for culture. This was the fourth meeting of Carmelite librarians over the past six years.
Libraries Represented at the Nantes Conference
This representation marks a tremendous advance over previous meetings as more and more libraries are represented and as new libraries are begun. Strategies of cooperation in acquisitions and the sharing of resources were discussed. The Washington Library has been able to offer to share its membership on OCLC (Online Computer Library Center) with the other libraries in the Carmelite Library Association. More than 53,000 libraries in 96 countries belong to OCLC which has a database of over one billion entries marking the combined collections of the participating libraries. OCLC is an invaluable tool for cataloguing and for interlibrary loan.
The Washington Library has also initiated a program of microfilming and digitizing rare books to share these Carmelite classics with other Carmelite libraries throughout the world. It was also acknowledged for its generous support of the Dutch and German provinces in compiling Monasticons, or histories of religious houses in those provinces. Washington provided the funds for microfilming and digitizing a large section of the Carmelite material in the Frankfurt State Archives. The microfilms were then put at the disposal of the scholars compiling these studies for six months before being sent to Washington where they have become part of the collection. The Carmelitana Collection also provided the funds for the restoration of an invaluable eighteenth century catalogue of the library in the Carmelite priory in Krakow. In return the Collection received a digitized copy of this book which will enable scholars to research the intellectual resources of Polish Carmelites of the period. Only two other library catalogues of early Carmelite libraries are known to exist and they provide historians with invaluable information regarding intellectual life of the time. Money for these projects came from a special endowment fund which supports the extraordinary projects of the libraries. In addition to acquiring important resources for the Washington collection, these projects have given an important boost to research into the history of the Order internationally and fostered a spirit of cooperation among Carmelite scholars.
After the meeting approximately fifteen participants remained behind for a three day course for new librarians conducted by Edison Tinanbunam, O.Carm. of the Rome Carmelite Library, Judith Taylor of the Aylesford Library, and Patricia O’Callaghan of the Washington Collection. The Carmelites of Nantes were gracious in their hospitality and twice entertained the group in their center at Notre Dame de Lumières.
The Carmelite Library Association was established in 2004 as a cooperative effort among the libraries that belong to the Carmelite Order to further the conservation of the books in the various collections and make a more effective use of the resources belonging to the member libraries so that scholars could have better access to these materials for their work.
The President of the Carmelite Library Association is Rev. Mark Attard, O. Carm. The secretary of the Carmelite Library Association is Rev. Patrick McMahon, O. Carm.
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