The Catholic Library Association originated in 1921, under the leadership of Rev. Paul J. Foik, CSC, of Notre Dame University, as the library section of the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA). It became an independent organization in 1929. Governed by an executive council/board and president, the CLA has employed an executive secretary/director since 1946; for many of these years (1960-1987) Matthew R. Wilt served in this capacity. It is best known for publishing the Catholic Periodical and Literature Index and the Catholic Library World and awarding the Regina Medal for children's literature. Programs for professional development are offered through the association's chapters and sections and its annual conventions, held in conjunction with the NCEA
Series 1, History, 1956-1964, n.d., contains a dissertation on the CLA and two theses on its executive council and the Catholic Library World, and a file on the Cardinal Mindszenty Foundation to Combat Communism, including correspondence with Phyllis Schafly.
Series 2, Organization, 1930-, contains information on general organizational matters; included in the series are the original and revised constitution and by-laws, a procedures manual, and reports. It is arranged alphabetically by type of document.
Series 3, Executive Council/Board, 1933-, includes correspondence of members with one another and with members of CLA units, sections, and committees, as well as minutes of meetings, reports, and information pertaining to the general administration of the association. It is arranged chronologically.
Series 4, Presidential and Executive Director Correspondence, 1931-, contains general correspondence between these officers as well as with other members of the CLA; it is arranged by date. (There is a significant gap for the period 1970-1990). The series also includes letters and articles (1978-1984) concerning the CLA's refusal to include The Wanderer in the Catholic Periodical and Literature Index.
Series 5, Committees, 1929-, consists of correspondence, minutes, and reports; it is arranged alphabetically by name of committee.
Series 6, Activities, 1939-, documents the Regina Medal, awarded since 1959 for sustained achievement by authors of children's literature; the Catholic Book Week, established in 1940 to publicize quality Catholic literature and encourage good reading on the part of Catholic patrons of public and private lending libraries; and other activities. The series is arranged alphabetically by topic.
Series 7, Publications, 1929-, consists of bibliographies, handbooks, literature guides, and other publications of the association, arranged by title, and correspondence, reports, and other information on the Catholic Library World, Catholic Periodical Index, and other publications, filed at the end of the series.
Series 8, Conventions, 1932-, includes minutes, newspaper clippings, photographs, and reports documenting the annual meetings of the CLA. It is arranged chronologically.
Series 9, Chapters/Units, 1935-. consists of files on the association's affiliates, typically including correspondence, constitutions, founding histories, meeting minutes, membership lists, newsletters, newspaper clippings, and photographs. It is arranged alphabetically by city or state, and type of record thereunder.
Series 10, Sections, 1935-, documents the activities of the CLA's sub-groups, representing different functions (archives, cataloging and classification, library education) and types of libraries (academic, children's, elementary and high school, hospital, parish, seminary). Records commonly found in the files for the sections include correspondence, minutes, newsletters, and reports. The series is arranged alphabetically by name of section, and type of record thereunder.
Series 11, Finances, 1933-, contains budgets, correspondence concerning financial matters, and financial statements. It is arranged chronologically.
Series 12, Videotapes, 1982, ca. 1983-, includes videotapes of CLA productions for the Catholic Television Network, including the unedited footage and production masters for a program on storytelling. The series is arranged chronologically.