Librarian's Lobby
by Daniel D. Stuhlman
August 2000

Remembering the past few years

I would like to publicly thank Rabbi Menachem Rosenfeld and wish him hatzlacha in his new position. Working with him at Kehilath Jacob Beth Samuel and the Chicago Rabbinical Council has been a wonderful experience. We have learned from each other and hope that the projects and ideas that we shared have made KJBS, the CRC and the larger community a better place. 

This is my last column as the Librarian of the Saul Silber Library. The column will continue next month with a new focus. I will be working with the new Executive Director and with my loyal readers to write about the world of books, learning and knowledge. I would appreciate any ideas and suggestions for topics for my columns.

In the last issue of Hadashot several staff members reviewed the accomplishments of the CRC. One of the accomplishments of this column has been to guide readers to new ideas about books and knowledge. The column I wrote on the story of the two brothers who met on what became the site of the 1st and 2nd Temple has been quoted and referred to by librarians ever since. In my columns I have tried to show a process of finding information and turning that information into useful knowledge. Later in this column I will tell you how this process will be part of my new venture.

I would like to review some of the Library's accomplishments that allow library readers to help themselves.

1. We put up signs to help readers. It is amazing how a sign can help readers find what they want more effectively. The Library has signs on each tier of book shelves. The stacks have signs and posters to guide the readers to the place to find their books. Each book tier and area of the reading room has an identification number to ease locating of materials. These location codes are posted and in the library guidebooks.

2. The Library's computer catalog now has over 23,500 items from all branches of the Library. Every item added to the collection since 1995 is in the computer catalog. The catalog is also available on the World Wide Web at : This is a temporary URL and will be changed when the vendor upgrades their software in October. While the cataloging is far from complete, it is a vast improvement over the card catalog. Since the Library never had an inventory, the card catalog has items that have been missing for over 40 years. Every item in the computer catalog that has been recataloged has been processed and relabeled. I have been complimented that our spine labels are much easier to read and they make finding a book much easier than most of the big university libraries in the area.

Cataloging is a never-ending project. The idea and mission of cataloging is to organize and record the information about a library item so that it can be found and used. The catalog contains not only books, but also videos, CDs, articles, analytics, "see" references, museum objects and even the Library's equipment. Some books are easy to catalog because they have clear information on the title pages and cataloging in publication. Some books are difficult because they are missing vital information such as author, date of publication, and publisher. Serials are a special challenge because they are published periodically and have multiple authors. Publishers that change the name of their publications make cataloging difficult and make readers struggle to find the issues they need.

3. The Library branch in the Blitstein Teachers Institute has blossomed from a small collection of text books into two attractive rooms with new book shelves holding over 3000 volumes. The collection contains books in areas that support the curriculum. In addition to Judaica volumes that largely duplicates what is in the main collection, the library has literature, psychology, business, education, and computer science books that are not duplicated in the main library. All items are cataloged in the library management system.

4. The Library has received major gifts from CRC members over the past five years. Their names have been mentioned in my columns. The Library has been able to fill in major gaps in our collections thanks to these gifts. However, gifts are a mixed blessing. Chances are that two CRC rabbis have similar interests and collect many of the same books. The Library keeps what we need and then passes the others to appropriate places. The CRC office itself has many of the duplicate gifts. These gifts are an important source of out-of-print books that the Library could never purchase at a book store.

Adding value to data and information to make knowledge

Libraries are store houses of knowledge. Books are the frozen knowledge of their authors. Understanding the terminology of "data", "information" and, "knowledge" is important to understanding how each one of you adds value to information. Data is easily stored and retrieved in a computer data base. The pieces of data are assembled to become information. Information is integrated in the brain then changes it into knowledge. Knowledge is learned by humans based on information. Once learned knowledge changes behavior.

The above paragraph may sound unclear, but let me describe knowledge in terms that are very familiar. Rabbis make sermons. Think of the value rabbis add to data to make sermons that share knowledge. For example, a rabbi will start with an idea from the sidra (or any other source). This idea is one of the datum. The rabbi will look for sources in the Torah and later rabbinic and Jewish literature to support the idea. These sources (data) are gathered and then become information. The information is integrated into the rabbi's experience, background and previous knowledge to help synthesize new ideas. These new ideas are integrated to make the knowledge that will be shared in the sermon. The knowledge is received by the congregation and if it effects a change in behavior, it is part of the person's knowledge. Each step adds value to the previous step. The initial idea needs the added value of the sources; the sources need the value integrating them into new thought worth sharing and finally the congregation benefits from the integration, synthesis and integration into knowledge.

This adding value is not limited to sermons. The project could be anything that requires gathering data and adding value before passing it on to another person. My new venture will be helping organizations and businesses understand the process of adding value to information and turning that information into knowledge. This process is called knowledge management and it is what I have been doing for over 30 years and never knew it before four weeks ago. Cataloging is the most important aspect of the organization, storage and retrieval of knowledge. Knowledge is the most valuable human endeavor that can be shared but never touched, felt, or seen. Librarians are experts in adding value to data through their dedication to organizing, storing, and retrieving data and information. In future columns, I will continue discussing adding value to data.

Daniel D. Stuhlman is president of Stuhlman Management Consultants, Chicago, IL, a firm helping organizations turn data and information into knowledge. Previous issues of Librarian's Lobby can be found at: He can be reached via e-mail at:

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