"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.

AJL Reads: Join the Discussion March 13

Please join us for a discussion of The English Spy by Daniel Silva on Sunday, March 13, 2016 at 9pm Eastern/8pm Central/6pm Pacific Time via call-in show. We'll discuss the book by phone, and record the discussion for those who miss it.

Call (724) 444-7444 and enter the Call ID 139461 to participate! The discussion will last approximately one hour. 

You can hear AJL READS' January 2016 book discussion of My Russian Grandmother and Her American Vacuum Cleaner, and get the schedule for other upcoming book discussions, HERE.

AJL Elections Coming Soon

This spring we will elect our new slate of AJL officers. The nominating committee has been hard at work, recruiting excellent candidates to lead AJL. We are pleased to present to you your slate of candidates for the spring election. Information about the election procedures will be sent to AJL members by e-mail within the next few weeks. Thanks to all the candidates for their eagerness to serve AJL!

VP/President-Elect: Dina Herbert

Treasurer: Pat Fenton

Secretary: Nancy Sack

VP for Membership: Shulamis Hes

VP for Development: Fred Isaac

RAS President: Rebecca Jefferson 

RAS VP: Rachel Simon

SSC President: Kathy Bloomfield

SSC VP: Susan Kusel

Day 5: Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour 2016

The "grand finale" of the 2016 Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour is a virtual panel discussion amongst the various winning authors and illustrators. As always, this roundup is hosted by Barbara Krasner at The Whole Megillah. 

Click here to read the virtual panel discussion

The participants made comments about the experience like "Always inspiring to be included in a group of such accomplished, thoughtful authors and illustrators!" (Leslie Kimmelman), "It's wonderful to read all the blogs!" (Kathy Kacer), and "It has been an honor and a privilege getting to know all of you. See you in Charleston!" (Heidi Smith Hyde). We hope to see you as well, dear reader, in Charleston at the 51st Annual Association of Jewish Libraries conference where the Sydney Taylor winners will receive their awards! 

The entire blog tour may be found here.

Day 4: Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour 2016

A little catch-up today with the Shanghai Sukkah interviews, and two new Blog Tour stops: Everybody Says Shalom and Stones on a Grave.

Be sure to check out yesterday's interview on The Hired Girl, and get the rest of the blog tour schedule here.

Catching up from WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 2016

Shanghai Sukkah by Heidi Smith Hyde, illustrated by Jing Jing Tsong
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Younger Readers Category
At Kristi's Book Nook
Author & Illustrator Interviews

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 11, 2016

Everybody Says Shalom by Leslie Kimmelman, illustrated by Talitha Shipman
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Younger Readers Category
At Book Q&A's with Deborah Kalb
Author Interview

Stones on a Grave by Kathy Kacer
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Teen Readers Category
At Randomly Reading
Author Interview and Book review