American Theological Library Association

The American Theological Library Association (ATLA) is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3), professional association, headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. ATLA’s member libraries and librarians provide tens of millions of resources for scholarly research to tens of thousands of students, faculty, staff, and administrators. The association supports the membership with a wide range of services and products, including an annual conference, members-only publications and discounts, and professional development opportunities.


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 studies libraries and librarianship. Established in 1946, ATLA is governed by an elected board of directors and has over 800 individual, institutional, and affiliate members.


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:

More recent activities of ATLA include:


ATLA offers a prestigious product line of electronic resources to support the scholarly study of religion and theology, including the ATLA Religion Database, an online index of citations covering journal articles, book reviews, and essay collections in all fields of religion; ATLASerials , an online full-text collection of more than 240 major religion and theology journals going back to 1949; and ATLA Catholic Periodical and Literature Index, which provides indexing of periodicals, essay collections, church documents, papal documents, and electronic resources expressly addressing the practice and intellectual tradition of Roman Catholicism.


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