Fall 2002 Tishrei 5763

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From the editor's desk

Chaim Potok died on July 23 at the age of 73. He was a rabbi and scholar who whose first book, The Chosen, was a ground-breaking Jewish story.

This was the story of the struggle of two New York Jewish boys both of whom were observant. Few people know that in the late 1960's Potok wrote materials for high school students. These materials dealt with Jewish ethics -- ethics of friendship, self-control, and Jewish-Christian relationships. The style of writing was clear and full of the lessons that found expression in the later books. In his, Ethics of Friendship, he writes, "Friendship makes unique demands and brings unique rewards. Not everyone can fulfill these demands; not everyone experiences these rewards." In his, Ethics of Self-Control, Potok writes, "...uncontrolled anger can lead an individual to intellectual and spiritual disaster -- intellectual, because anger is indicative of a loss of self-control, and a person who is unable to control himself stands in danger of disintegrating as a moral human being." These words are as true today as they were in when written in 1966. I never met Potok in person, but I am proud to call him my teacher. These lessons must have sunk into me, because they are still part of the way I think. My son shares a name with one of his characters, Asher Lev, but this is just a coincidence. My Asher Lev was named after his great-grandfather and great-uncle.

In addition to his writings, Potok was the editor-in-chief of Jewish Publication Society from 1965 to 1974. As his reputation grew he was able to devote full time to writing.

I will remember Chaim Potok as a teacher, favored novelist, and influential editor.

This issue contains a remembrance of Leah Mishkin, by Eli Ginsparg. Mrs. Mishkin was a Judaica librarian in our community from 1936 until she retired in 1984. Anne Dublin from Toronto contributes some of her thoughts on spelling. I share the first part of my article on library public relations. We have convention reports from Eva Eisenstein, Margaret Burka and Cheryl Banks. Kathy Bloch reports on a meeting of the Chicago Area Special Libraries. Thanks to Kathy Bloch and Joy Kingsolver for help with the proofreading and mailing of this issue.

I wish everyone a Shana Tova u-mitukah. May this year be one of happy news, peace, and prosperity.

Daniel "Donnie" Stuhlman, editor
Chicago, IL 60645
E-mail : DDStuhlman@earthlink.net.
http://home.earthlink.net/~DDStuhlman/index.htm
©2002 by JLNMC

Contents of this issue
Letter from the editor
Minutes of the Spring Meeting
Minutes of the Summer Meeting
Leah Mishkin z"l,by Elie Ginsparg
Ms. Spelllin, by Anne Dublin
Library Public Relations, by Daniel Stuhlman
Convention report, by Eva Eisenstein
News from the Asher Library
Letter from the President
Reflections on the AJL Convention,  by M. Burka
What a Great Denver Convention!,  by Cheryl Banks
Chicago Area Special Collections Librarians at Spertus, by Kathy Bloch

The web site for previous issues: http://home.earthlink.net/~DDStuhlman\jln-home.htm

Letter from the President
by Rena Citrin

It is my pleasure to address my colleagues of the JLNMC as president for the very first time. I respectfully follow the footsteps of our dedicated outgoing president, Eva Eisenstein; and I look to Eva for her continuing guidance and support.

The summer planning meeting at Judy Weintraub's home produced a schedule of programs for the coming year that promises to be informative and edifying. As always, Judy, thanks for so graciously opening your home.

Mark your calendar for Thursday, October 17, 2002. That's the date of our fall meeting to be held at Ner Tamid/Ezra Habonim Synagogue. Glenn Ferdman, Director of the Asher Library of the Spertus Institute and vice-president of JLN, will deliver the talk he gave at the recent AJL Convention entitled "Library Newsletters -- The Easy Way." This subject is relevant to all of us who struggle with the important job of getting the word out about the valuable resources and activities in our libraries. Glenn is an expert on this subject and a wonderful speaker. Please make the time to attend.

Our winter meeting is tentatively set for Sunday, February 2, 2003. Donnie Stuhlman, of Stuhlman Management Consultants and Eileen Brooks, of the Asher Library will run a workshop on "The Reference Interview and Judaic Reference Sources." We are fortunate to have two such articulate experts address us on these vital subjects.

Eva Eisenstein is the slated speaker for the spring meeting to be held at Spertus on Wednesday, May 14 from 7:30-9 pm. A brief business meeting will proceed Eva's informative and fascinating talk on the "Jewish Graphic Novel."

Details on each of these events are forthcoming. It is my hope that more members will make an effort to attend JLN programs this year.

In an effort to raise the profile of JLN, some of our very capable members are compiling a "Best of the Best Jewish Book List" for 2002-2003. This list is intended as a reading guide for book clubs. Sharon Chefitz, Eva Eisenstein, Marcie Eskin and Glenn Ferdman are our well-read compilers. The list will be sent to media outlets in advance of Jewish Book Month.

I wish you, your family and all of klal Israel a healthy, happy and safe New Year.

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Minutes of The Spring
Meeting, May 23, 2002
Marshall Jewish Learning Center
Northbrook, IL



Rolly Cohen, Director of the Board of Jewish Education's Marshall Jewish Learning Center, welcomed the members. Thirteen members attended. A book repair workshop offered by Tim Weber of Kapco Library Product preceded the business meeting.

Business Meeting

President Eva Eisenstein thanked Rolly Cohen and Marcie Eskin for hosting the meeting.

Approval of Minutes The minutes of the January 27, 2002 meeting were approved.

Treasurer's Report Sharon Chefitz, Treasurer, reported that the balance in the treasury as of May 17, 2002 was $1,008.23. This total included income of $82.31 (from membership renewals and interest) and payments of $55 (honorarium and Secretary of State) since February 2002.

Convention Subsidies $800 in convention subsidies will be divided among the three members applying for assistance.

Newsletter Eva reported that Donnie Stuhlman, Newsletter editor, would like the convention participants to write up their personal impressions for the next newsletter. He would also like articles about the various institutions of our members.

Elections

The following slate for the 2002-2003 year was announced and elected
 

President Rena Citrin
Vice President/President Elect Glenn Ferdman
Treasurer Sharon Chefitz
Corresponding Secretary Joy Kingsolver
Recording Secretary Marcie Eskin
Eva thanked Robbin Katzin, past president and chair of the Nominating Committee, and committee members Shoshanah Seidman, Margaret Burka, and Cheryl Banks for their efforts.

New Business A suggestion was made to consider developing tribute cards for our chapter. After noting that, given the small size of our group, there would be a limited clientele for cards, the members decided not to embark on an effort at this time.

Eva reported that she had received a call from the Chicago Convention Bureau wondering if we were planning a national convention anytime soon. We will consider hosting a convention in 2005 (ten years after the last in Chicago).

Eva and Sharon both received a letter from someone in the area wanting to show his artwork at one of our meetings. After discussing the appropriateness of the request, it was decided not to pursue the matter.

Respectfully submitted,
Marcie Eskin, Recording Secretary
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Minutes of The Summer Meeting, July 31, 2002
Home of Judy Weintraub
Skokie, IL

President Rena Citrin opened the meeting. Eight members attended.

2005 Convention. At the last meeting, the idea of hosting AJLs 2005 National Convention was raised. Glenn Ferdman gave an update of the Spertus building campaign/renovation project. The earliest Spertus could possibly be available as the site of a convention would be 2006.

Programming Ideas. A number of programming ideas for the upcoming year were discussed.

  • JLNMC Book Club Selections Coordinating programming with planned Spertus public programming such as the Meet the Author Series and the Jewish Book Club and Discussion Series were discussed. Brainstorming on this topic led to a decision to pursue a new annual project of creating a JLNMC list of approximately ten recommended books to be publicized to Jewish and public libraries. The list would include a mix of fiction and non-fiction and would include a tie-in with one of the Spertus series. (Glenn Ferdman will inform us of the Spertus selections.) We suggested that the list be announced in anticipation of Jewish Book Month, with a press release to synagogues and other institutions out by October 1. Sharon Chefitz, Eva Eisenstein, Glenn Ferdman, and Marcie Eskin volunteered to work on this effort.

  •  
  • Publicity. General publicity was discussed and publicity in conjunction with the book club idea. Eva stated that she might be willing to work on publicity. The Book Club press release might be something that could lead to a story about JLNMC in the local Jewish press. The issue of trying to publicize our programming was also discussed. Marcie Eskin will check with the BJE to determine the possibility of using its synagogue and educators mailing lists. We discussed submitting the book club press release to the North Suburban Library System for publication in the Blue Sheets.

  •  
  • Upcoming Meetings. After discussing many ideas, the following dates, locations, and topics for the year's meetings were tentatively decided upon

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  • Fall meeting. Ner Tamid, Thursday Oct. 10, 2002, 10 am - Noon. Topic: Holocaust Art (pending contact with Marilyn Snyder). Judy Weintraub volunteered to provide lunch for this meeting.

  • Winter meeting. Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School, Sunday Feb. 2, 2003, 2 - 4:30 pm.
  • Topic: Judaic Reference Skills Seminar (including discussion of the reference interview and print and electronic sources). Donnie Stuhlman would co-present, perhaps with Eileen Brooks of Spertus (Glenn will check with her).
  • Spring meeting. Spertus Institute (?), Wednesday, May 14, 2003, 7:30 - 9 pm.
  • Topic: Jewish Graphic Novels, presented by Eva Eisenstein. The idea of meeting at Spertus was suggested so that we might be able to coordinate a second part of the educational portion of the meeting with the current museum exhibit. Glenn will check on the possibility of touring after hours.
  • 2002 Convention. Eva Eisenstein, Sharon Chefitz, Donna Stewart, and Glenn Ferdman reported on the Denver Convention. Everyone felt that it was a great meeting with good opportunities to network with colleagues.
  • Eva reported that Temple Sholom received basic AJL accreditation.

    Rena thanked Judy Weintraub for hosting the meeting and ended the meeting.

    Respectfully submitted by,
    Marcie Eskin, Recording Secretary

     


    Leah Mishkin z"l
    by Elie Ginsparg

    Rebbetzin Leah Mishkin, who passed away on June 20, 2002 at the age of 93, served the Library of the Hebrew Theological College for nearly a half century. She is respectfully remembered by faculty members as the "mother" of the Saul Silber Memorial Library. She was the wife of the late Rabbi Dr. Leonard Mishkin, who was a professor of history at the College and educational director of the Associated Talmud Torahs.

    Mrs. Mishkin began in 1936 as assistant librarian and was promoted to Librarian in 1939. She served in that capacity for forty-five years until her retirement in 1984. Even afterward, she remained keenly interested, and often inquired about the welfare of the library. Much of its success is her doing, for she along with Dr. Mishkin were responsible for acquisitions, including many rare and important Hebrew works, volumes that are still part of the core of the Library's collection. She was also involved in the initial cataloging of all its books.

    Her dedication to the Library and the providing of library services is the stuff of legend. In 1956, when the Hebrew Theological College began the process of moving from Chicago to Skokie, there was a transition period when there was no physical space for the library. Although it would have simple to close the library temporarily, Mrs. Mishkin would not let the students and the community go without the services of the library. Therefore, she rented stores on Pulaski Road, put up shelves, and kept the library functioning.

    She brought to her work an incomparable knowledge of books, even beyond those which made up the library's collection. Her storehouse of knowledge included fluency in many languages. In addition she served as reference librarian, complementing her skill and professionalism with a kind and courteous manner, and genuine desire to be of service.

    Mrs. Mishkin did not merely respond to requests. She worked actively to make the library a vehicle for learning in many ways such as preparing exhibits and arranging lectures on its premises.

    It was the vision of Mrs. Mishkin that Saul Silber Memorial Library be not merely a storehouse of books, but a place of learning and growth. Her wisdom and her success are her legacy, which lives on each day at the Saul Silber Memorial Library of Hebrew Theological College.


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    Ms. Spelllin
    by Anne Dublin

    Librarian, Holy Blossom Temple

    Toronto, Ontario

    Some people think I have a "problem" with spelling. That might be because I'm always pointing out their spelling mistakes. I was the kid in the class who actually liked spelling bees. I used to brag that I knew how to spell the longest word in the English dictionary. In those days, it was "antidisestablishmentarianism."1

    As a librarian, I know that spelling is very important. A misspelled heading may cause a book to be lost, or create problems in cataloguing. And it's very important to know the spelling of a title or author when you're doing a search. For example, when I first became a librarian in my synagogue, I would get confused with "Wiesel" and "Weisel." How happy I was to learn that we have something called authority control!

    But more about my "problem." When I would get cash register receipts, I found typos such as "Thanks for your busines" or "Hav a nice day". Small mistakes that would not cause any problems, but annoying. Sometimes, I would return business letters to the sender with the spelling mistakes corrected.

    The situation has been getting gradually worse. On a trip to Sioux Lookout, Ontario, I saw a sign in front of a country store. The sign had a misspelled word blazing across the storefront in huge letters. I talked about it for hours; I even took a photograph.

    And worse. As I was driving to work a few weeks ago, I was stuck in traffic. Two spelling mistakes stared at me from the back of the truck. "Our pita's are the best. Baked from organic and naturel grains." I started to sweat. At the first opportunity, I changed lanes and sped away, my hands clammy on the steering wheel.

    It was last week when I finally realized I had a serious problem. I was sitting in the dentist's chair. He had already administered the local anaesthetic in preparation for a root canal. My mouth was growing numb and I was entering the "can't feel no pain" haze. He gave me a standard release form to sign. I read it; I really did. Unfortunately, I found three spelling mistakes. You understand; I had to tell my dentist. He accepted the corrections graciously. He said he understood. His mother had been an English teacher and she was "like that" too.

    Life must be lived with courage. I will continue to point out people's spelling mistakes, no matter where, no matter when. I might lose all my friends, but at least there will be fewer spelling mistakes in the world. I told you, I have a problem with spelling.


    1. When I was a kid, that was the most popular big word that kids tried to spell. However, it was not in any of the dictionaries that I checked.
    [Ed. Note: Canadian spellings are used in this article, because author is from Toronto.]


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    Library Public Relations for the Small Library Part 1
    by Daniel Stuhlman

    Every library deals with a "public." Even small synagogue and school libraries need to be concerned about how patrons and potential patrons perceive the library's role and use the library's resources. Every library has support groups such as trustees, donors, administrators, or members to whom the library needs to prove, constantly the value of its services. Both users and non-users need to know what the library offers and what it could offer if given more support. Libraries are not vital unless the community perceives them as vital.

    Public relations is a process to promote the library, library groups, and information services in general. Since libraries compete for the time and attention of the public, the library must prove its worth. Public relations is a communications process. Good public relations is the result of positive impressions on the user and non-user.

    Finding the correct questions is important to finding solutions. This article will raise questions, make you aware of situations and difficulties, and offer some ideas for you to implement.

    I. Librarian expertise

    Not everyone understands the expertise of a librarian. Members and administrators must be reminded that librarians need subject and technical education in order to be good at their profession. Many times I have seen queries for help from scholars on internet mailing lists where I realized that the question could be answered by a librarian or library visit. These scholars had no clue to the route to find the answer. Sometimes solutions require a reference interview. The questions need clarification in order to give the appropriate help. Once the question is clarified, the answer is much easier to find. The scholar needs to know that librarians can listen and help guide them.

    Spread the word as to how the librarian helped a patron. Tell everyone about expertise of your staff. Tell everyone that librarians listen and help solve puzzles. Use the organization's newsletter or create a library newsletter.

    One of the biggest problems in organizations (this is not limited to libraries) is inadequate internal communications. All staff members need to have the information and tools to do their job. When the public sees a well-informed staff, they have a positive view of the library. The public does not always know the difference between a librarian and a para-professional.

    Here is an example of poor communications and how to correct it. Library ABC has a policy that only qualified reference librarians may answer patron questions. No matter what the question asked, even questions for directions, the clerk must refer the patron to the reference desk. This kind of policy leads patrons to think they are being pushed aside and misdirected. Patrons perceive the front desk people as uncooperative and stupid. Staff members perceive themselves as helpless or overwhelmed with questions.

    The improved policy is to make sure that all staff members are trained in many aspects of the library operation. The improved policy is discussed with professional and clerical staff to make sure they understand how to make patrons feel welcome. The first contacted staff member takes responsibility to make sure the question is answered or the patron is directed to the best person to obtain the answer. Questions concerning directions and events do not require a reference librarian. Questions directed to reference librarians may be passed to another who can better serve the patron. All staff members are informed of events and activities in the building so that patrons feel welcome.

    Just as a business wants to keep customers, libraries want to keep patrons because in some way they pay the bills through their tuition, dues, or donations.

    II. Library policies

    Every policy must take into account public perceptions. Do you have a policy to deal with situations such as when the needs of one user conflict with another?

    How old is your circulation policy? Has anything changed to make a different loan period a better policy? Is there a provision for faculty or vacation loans? What is the purpose of fines -- revenue or reminders to return books on time?

    Do patrons need to wait in line for your OPAC? Do you have enough computers for internet access?

    III. Good Will and Return on Investment

    Every program should have a return on the investment. Returns do not have to be monetary. Good will and pleasant experiences are important, too. A few months ago I happened to visit a public library when they were having a jazz concert. When I walked into the library, the only clue to the concert was that I had to pass the door to the auditorium before entering the main part of the library. I saw some people setting up the room. I had no idea that a free library-sponsored concert was to start in the next few minutes. If there was a sign it was small and not distinguished. There was no line of people waiting to get in. After asking what was going on, I found out that tickets were required. I was not interested in attending the concert. While I was looking for the information that I came for, I heard the music penetrate into the reading room. At first I thought this was a great thing for the library to do on a Sunday afternoon. Then I realized no one in the reading room cared for the music. I peeked into the auditorium and saw fewer than 10 people in the audience. I felt sorry for the musical group. They prepared a concert, yet no one came.

    What was the perceived success or failure of this program? What was the return on their investment? Did the few people who attended have a good time? Did the musical group have a good time or were they disappointed? Did the concert generate good will? An announcement on the PA would have encouraged people to attend and inform those in the reading room the source of the music. The library failed to generate positive public relations with the people already in the library. It is a good idea to inform people of the source of loud sounds, even if the sound is music. Examine the return on the investment of staff time.

    Preparation for programs to gather good will and have a positive return
     

    1. Do your homework. Make sure that the program is one the audience will support. If you have a concert make sure your community has an interest in that type of music. Schedule the event at an appropriate time and venue.

    2. Co-ordinate publicity. Inform your staff of the event, send notices to regular patrons, post signs and notices, put notices in your newsletters, and send press releases. Make sure that the public knows this is a library event. If this is an event to get people into the library, make this clear in your planning. Hit people with your message in multiple ways. Post signs, tell people, do mailings, etc.

    4. Even if attendance is small, make sure you have a public relations victory. For example stage photographs, just to enable someone to write about the event.

    [to be continued]
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    Convention Report
    by Eva Eisenberg
    37th Annual AJL Convention
    Denver, Colorado >
    June 23-26, 2002

    AJL pulled off another great meeting. The Denver Jewish community (population about 45,000) is very organized and active. Their attention to detail made for a very pleasant overall experience for attendees. AJL shared the Adams Mark Hotel with Student Technology Association (STA), which made for an even more interesting time. STA, all 3,000 of them, from grade school through high school, in the hotel for a week, for their annual meeting. Getting up and down in the tiny elevators was a challenge, and despite some long waits for a partially empty elevator, we kept our good humor and learned about the students' competitions and projects related to applied technology. Wonder what they made of us?

    The keynote speaker at the opening banquet was Dr. Maurice J. Freedman, the newly elected President of the American Library Association. His topic - "There's no way they'll want to pay us better - Raising Perceptions of the Value of Libraries and the People Who Work in Them" - didn't give him the rousing reception he'd received at ALA, although I'm sure we all agreed with what he had to say. I don't think he knows the sad but real financial situation of librarians working in Jewish institutions.

    The sessions I attended focused on children's literature.

    The sessions on youth literature included:

  • Historical Fiction for Young People: An Author and a Librarian Talk about the Process and the Product
  • Choosing Books to Read to Children Under Seven: What Works and What Doesn't
  • Is the Rainbow Fish Jewish? Secular Picture Books that Reinforce Jewish Concepts and Values
  • Jewish Children's Literature: What's Hot and What's Not. The Sydney Taylor Awards
  • Beyond Faye Kellerman: Popular Jewish Fiction in Your Library was extremely useful, covering "adult readers' advisory" - guidance requested of the librarian by users on what fiction to read, and "genre fiction" - historical, mystery, etc.
  • Because of the increasing interest in genealogy and her ancestral family's connection with Temple Sholom, I attended a session by Emily Rose, who wrote Portraits of Our Past: Jews of the German Countryside. Her talk focused on how she did her very extensive genealogical research for the book. Her session was titled:

    Making Connections: Materials Available in American and German Archives and Libraries

    Finally, a nuts-and-bolts management session:

    Techniques for Evaluating the Small Print Library Collection.

    This was a rather tedious and boring topic, but something we all have to do at some point, if for no other reason than to do inventory.

    All in all, this was an excellent meeting, well- organized, in a visitor-friendly city. The incredible Denver Public Library hosted several of our events, and was within easy walking distance of the hotel. The Denver Art Museum was across a small plaza from the Library, and was well worth a visit. The 16th Street Mall, which was anchored at one end by our hotel, was a very successful example of urban planning, with imaginative landscaping along its roughly 15 block length down to the train station, and offering constantly running free electric trolleys. A great place to stroll and people watch.

    Chicago was well represented by the following institutions: Asher Library of Spertus, North Suburban Synagogue Beth El, Lakeside Congregation for Reform Judaism, Chicagoland Jewish High School, Ida Crown Jewish Academy, Northwestern University, and Temple Chai (Long Grove).

    The next convention is to be held in Toronto, and promises to be another first-rate venue for learning.
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    Editor's note: After this article was published I received this reply from Dr.Maurice J.(Moshe) Freedman, President of ALA and Director, Westchester (NY) Library System on August 29, 2002. He makes some valid comments and I excerpt them here.

    I appreciate the inclusion of my participation in several of the reports of the AJL Convention in Denver. I would like to offer one comment in response to Eva Eisenberg's report.

    My perception was a bit different of how the speech was received. I was very impressed and, even a bit embarrassed, by the length and the spirit of the applause. I was very pleased with the number of people who came up to me afterward to discuss the speech. For those who contributed to that reception and took the time to speak with me, please accept my gratitude and appreciation.

    The other point Ms. Eisenberg makes is more serious, i.e. my not knowing "the sad but real financial situation of librarians working in Jewish institutions."

    Because I had occasion to read Heidi Lerner's, "Who Earns What Today: An In-Depth Look at the First AJL Survey(1997)" [p. 203-7. In: Association of Jewish Libraries. Proceedings of the 33rd annual convention, 1999] , and other material, I had too good a sense about the "sad but real situation."

    We all know about the importance and frequent success of fundraising for synagogues and other Jewish causes. Barbara Ehrenreich in her speech at ALA offered the point that librarians all too frequently are put in the position of offering "involuntary philanthropy."

    How one gets better pay when the institution is underfunded is a matter that should be taken up by all librarians. We must insist that the funding of the institution includes fair compensation for the staff, even if it must be done over a period of years. This objective should be a part of all employers' business/fundraising/operating budget plans.

    From the bottom of my heart, I offer my strongest support and best wishes to all of you who are giving your all with little or no compensation.

    L'Shana Tovah. and may the New Year bring you better salaries and pay equity.

    News from Asher Library of Spertus Institute

    The Library recently received a $15,000 grant from the Lucius N. Littauer Foundation, followed by a gift of $10,000 from Donna Katzin Altschuler for the establishment of a rare book fund for the purchase and conservation of items for the Katzin Rare Book collection.

    The Library received an anonymous gift of $2,000 to establish a DVD collection. To date 34 DVDs have been added.

    Three Asher Library librarians attended the recent Association of Jewish Libraries convention in Denver. Staff made three presentations: on web resource searching; creating library newsletters; and providing access to full-text electronic resources.
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    Reflections on the 2002 AJL
    Convention, Denver, CO
    by Margaret Burka,
    Lakeside Congregation for Reform Judaism,

    Highland Park, IL

    I arrived in Denver in late June to find a city carrying on admirably under difficult circumstances. High temperatures (mid-90's) and very dry conditions were aggravating the terrible forest fire which had been burning near the city for several weeks. By the time Convention started, the fire was almost 70% contained, but the traces of smoke in the air attested to its nearness. I had the opportunity to visit with friends who live in Denver while there, and they told of how much better conditions were then as opposed to a couple of weeks earlier, when the air was thick with the smoke and ashes were raining down out of the sky. When I asked them how close the fire was to Denver, they said it was about 11 miles away. Apparently, 11 miles was a good distance away, and not so close as to be truly threatening the city. To me, 11 miles sounded very close!

    The city itself was a pleasure to visit. Large enough to be interesting, but not overpoweringly big. The Adam's Mark Hotel, at which Convention was held, was located in the heart of the city. It was just about a block away from a very pleasant outdoor mall, with plenty of shops, restaurants, theaters, and so forth. The hotel was comfortable enough; the food was fine, and aside from the usual, seemingly unavoidable, phenomenon of some of the meeting rooms being freezing cold while others were too warm and stuffy, the sessions I attended ran smoothly. The Convention committee did an excellent job of organizing the event.

    The reception held at the Denver Public Library was pretty enjoyable. Since the library is very near to the hotel, it was just a short, pleasant walk to get there. The library staff was friendly and accommodating. We were welcomed by the City Librarian, Rick Ashton. Dr. Maurice (Mitch) Freedman, ALA President, spoke as well. The library had on display a most interesting exhibit on the history of the railroad in Colorado.

    Dr. Freedman was also the keynote speaker at the Sunday dinner. His talk was on the need for more public awareness of the importance of librarianship and librarians, and for better salaries for librarians. It should only happen, and soon!

    Most of the sessions I attended were well-presented and of use to me in my work as a synagogue librarian. These are the ones I attended:

    1. Variant Record Structures in the Cataloging of Judaica Non-Book Materials Implications for the Primacy of MARC - presenter Bella Hass Weinberg; Liturgical Rites, Revisited Implications for the Cataloging of Jewish Liturgy...presenter Daniel Lovins; Metadata, Digitization and the Cairo Geniza...presenters Heidi Lerner and Seth Jerchowe. The first presenter, Ms. Weinberg, was an especially excellent speaker.

    2. Historical Fiction for Young People an Author and a Librarian Talk about the Process and the Product, presenters Anne Dublin and Linda Silver. Anne Dublin, a teacher, librarian and author, spoke on the process of writing her recently published book for young readers, Written on the Wind. It was particularly interesting to hear about how she researched her books of historical fiction.

    3. Potpourri Dealing With Your Board, presenter Abigail Yasgur; Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Hasafran, presenter Yossi Galron; Putting on a Book Fair, presenter Rachel Erlich; Oy! My Aching Back!, presenter Mara Sokolsky. The last topic was really a pitch for something called the Alexander technique, which I had hear of previously, and which is basically exercises to improve posture, body awareness, and so on. It was probably good to have Yossi speak on Hasafran, for those who do not yet know of it.
    The topic Dealing With Your Board was quite well presented. The one on book fairs was of particular interest to me, but I found virtually everything discussed was something of which I was already aware. In a way, though, this was a comfort - at least I did not feel as though I had been operating completely in the dark for the past few years when it came to our running our synagogue's book fair!

    4. Jewish Images in the Christian Church Art as the Mirror of Jewish-Christian Conflict 200-1250 C.E., presenter Henry Claman. I found this session to be fascinating and well presented by Dr. Claman, a medical doctor and art historian. The only problem was that he had more material than really fit into the time slot, and unlike some other presenters, who in those circumstances simply ran over and left less time for whomever came after, Dr. Claman speeded up the last part of the session a lot and had to skip over quite a bit at the end. This was unfortunate, since I would have really liked to see and hear about everything.

    5. Jewish Children's Literature: What's Hot and What's Not? The Sydney Taylor Awards, Parts 1 and 2 - presenters the Sydney Taylor Awards committee. I always attend this, as I do a lot of work with the children in our congregation, and I never fail to find it to be a lively double session, filled with information of much use to me, and a great chance to discuss books for children with other librarians. The Sydney Taylor awards this year went to Elsa Okon Rael, for Rivka's First Thanksgiving (for younger readers), Catherine Reef, Sigmund Freud Pioneer of the Mind (biography for younger readers), Karen Schwabach, A Pickpocket's Tale (manuscript award), Shmuel Spector and Geoffrey Wigoder, eds. Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust (reference book award), and Robert Singerman, compiler, Jewish Serials of the World... (bibliography award). The authors and editors spoke at the Tuesday evening banquet. I thought Elsa Okon Rael's and Karen Schwabach's speeches were particularly good. They

    6. The Boulder Connection Meditation and Mysticism, presenter Rabbi Nadia Gross; Jewish Renewal and its Literature, presenter Rabbi Victor Gross. The presenters, a husband and wife team, spoke on Kabbalah, Jewish mysticism, and what they term Jewish renewal. Some of the presentation touched on what seemed pretty New Agey themes, but I found it interesting and was glad to have attended, as I have recently been getting more requests from congregants on mysticism and spirituality, and they recommended some titles which I thought might be good additions to our library's collection.

    7. The Jews of China, presenter Jonathan Adelman; Bringing Jewish Children's Books to China; presenter Lois Ruby. Jonathan Adelman gave an excellent presentation on the history, going back over a thousand years, of the Jewish community in China. Ms. Ruby is doing a project collecting books on Jewish themes or by Jewish authors to send to children in China, as a kind of cultural exchange activity. Another session on the history of Jews, which I did not attend, but which I know was excellent, was, The Sephardic Legacy in New Mexico a History of the Crypto-Jews, presenter Stanley Hordes. I had already heard him give this talk at a Women's American ORT convention in Texas a couple of years ago. If you ever have a chance to hear Mr. Hordes talk on this subject, you should - his presentation is terrific.

    All in all, this seemed a well-run and very informative Convention. Again, I would like to commend the Denver committee for a job well done.
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    What a Great Denver Convention!
    By Cheryl Banks
    North Suburban Synagogue Beth El
    Highland Park, IL

    For those of you who didn't attend the annual Association of Jewish Libraries convention in Denver, CO, you missed a wonderful experience. Each year's convention brings new friends, information, and new ideas to bring to your library.

    This years convention had excellent workshops and sessions. Newly created this year was a Freshman Seminar, a primer for those librarians, volunteer and professional, who are new to the Judaica Library world. Freshman seminars covered library classification systems, cataloging, automation, administrative tips, etc. Other sessions included workshops on choosing books for younger children, how to put on a book fair, historical fiction for young readers, electronic resources, internet cataloging resources, and the digital Yiddish library. There is something for everyone at conventions including academic discussions, bibliographies, poster sessions, hands-on workshops.

    Our hosts provided us with fascinating opportunities to learn about the Denver Jewish community. We learned about the history of the Jews in Denver, and even found out that there was a vibrant Jewish community in the gold-rush community of Leadville during the 19th century! We had a lovely reception at the award-winning Denver Public Library, and were greeted by the President of ALA, Mitch Freedman.

    AJL conventions are always a delight to attend. While the sessions are certainly full of massive amounts of information, the most valuable part of these meetings is the networking, connecting with colleagues who have the same concerns and problems that you do. There is always someone to compare notes with, to ask advice of, and to share problems with. And I always leave the conventions feeling proud of my profession, validated in ways that I do not feel in my own building.

    Next year's convention will be held June 14-18, 2003 in Toronto, Canada. Our chapter can provide stipends for travel, and the national organization provides travel stipends as well, so there's no excuse! Mark your calendar for next years convention in Toronto!

    [Editor's note: Nov. 11, 2003 --> The Denver convention actually had a more catchy name.]


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    Chicago Area Special Collections
    Librarians at Spertus
    by Kathy Bloch
    Asher Library, Spertus Institute

    On August 8th, the Asher Library of Spertus Institute hosted a meeting of Chicago Area Special Collections librarians (CASC). A group of twenty-five librarians, archivists and curators from the Newberry Library, the Chicago Historical Society, the Chicago Public Library, the University of Chicago, the Art Institute of Chicago and other local institutions were introduced to the Asher Library and its special collections through a series of presentations and tours. Library director Glenn Ferdman welcomed the group and offered an overview of Spertus Institute and the Asher Library. Kathy Bloch, associate director, followed with a presentation on the development of the Library's Rare Books and Maps collection, touching on some of its highlights and major sub-groups. She also briefly described the Library's Chicago Collection of published material relating to Chicago Jewish history, and its collection of old and scarce periodicals in Jewish Studies. Joy Kingsolver, director of the Chicago Jewish Archives, spoke about the history and work of the Archives and described its collections. She also outlined plans for future projects and answered many questions from interested librarians and archivists.

    The visiting librarians were then treated to a tour of the Archives, where Joy showed off notable and recent acquisitions, including handmade leather baby shoes (ca.1900) worn by the future president of Inland Steel, Joseph L. Block, and monogrammed china from the B'nai Zion collection. In the Katzin Rare Book Room Glenn spoke of the ongoing rare book conservation and cataloguing project and highlighted a few of the rooms treasures, among them the kabbalistic Sefer Raziel (Amsterdam, 1701) and a 1721 edition of the encyclopedic Maaseh Tuviah. The last stop in the Library was a visit to the conservation lab, where conservator Karen Lee outlined some of the techniques she employs to restore and protect the most precious items in the Asher Library's collections, illustrating her remarks with samples of work in progress. The enthusiastic group ended its visit with a guided tour of the Spertus Museums current exhibit, A Gateway to Medieval Mediterranean Life: Cairo's Ben Ezra Synagogue.

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    Last revised November 12, 2003