"People of the Books" Blog

Spotlight with Jackie Benefraim

AJL Spotlight is an on-going series that highlights the day-in-a-life of our members and libraries. This week we interviewed Jackie Benefraim, active member and academic librarian.


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Name: Jackie Benefraim
Name of institution: Ostrow Library, American Jewish University
Job title: Special Collections Librarian, Lowy Winkler Family Rare Book Center
Library website: http://library.aju.edu/ 

What is your typical day?
1) Answer emails regarding upcoming exhibits in the library and AJL business
2) Work on cataloging backlog for both Hebrew books and items in the rare book room
3) Work on upcoming exhibits by pulling books, dealing with paperwork and seeking artwork to display alongside diverse bibles
4) Make minor repairs to circulating books and create phase boxes for rare books
5) Give tours of the Lowy Winkler Rare Book Center and the current exhibit to affliates and the public
6) Answer queries about digital archives.
7) Occasionally, staff circulation desk and assist patrons

How did you get involved with AJL?
I have been a member since I first went back to work as a librarian in November 2007. On my first day at work, my colleague Rabbi Pat Fenton, suggested I post a question on HaSafran and within an hour I had my answer. I thought, here are people who don’t know me, but are taking the time to help me. I need to be a part of this community. Once I started working on conferences, I felt a personal investment in the organization that has provided me with so much guidance.

What positions do you hold in AJL?
Strategic Planning Committee Oversight Chair
Advertising and Exhibits Manager for both Reviews and for national conferences.

Have you been to conferences? What were some memorable highlights?
I have been to 4 conferences. Besides the camaraderie of being together with everyone from AJL, I especially enjoyed last year’s tours of the Library of Congress and U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. I use what I have learned at conference sessions on the day-to-day at work. I would be hard pressed to single out one session, but I am grateful for the session in Pasadena “The Creative Exhibitor Inside You: Developing Exhibits in Research Libraries and Museums” that has been helpful in my current position.

Can you recommend a book to us?
Anton, Maggie.  Rashi’s Daughters : Book 1 Joheved. Glendale, Calif. : Banot Press, 2005. My Hebrew name is Yocheved!

Horn, Dara. A guide for the perplexed : a novel. New York : W. W. Norton & Company, 2013.

de Rosnay ,Tatiana. Sarah’s Key. New York : St. Martin's Press, 2007. This book was recommended to me by an acquaintance from the Netherlands who assumed by my surname that I was Jewish. This started a great friendship and we correspond mostly via postcards.

Foner, Henry and Heinz Lichtwitz. Postcards to a Little Boy : A Kindertransport Story.  Jerusalem, Yad Vashem, 2013. This last book is from my large personal library of books on postcards which I’ve collected for 52 years. Many of the cards depicted in this brief work memorialize the correspondence between a young boy and his father, similarly to the types of postcards I received as a child. I am grateful that my story had a happier ending.

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