"People of the Books" Blog

AJL at the American Library Association Conference

Explore Over Two Centuries of Jewish Heritage in Florida at ALA Annual Conference

If you're going to the 2016 ALA Annual Conference and/or live in or will be visiting Central Florida after AJL Annual Conference in Charleston, you are cordially invited to attend a special program co-sponsored by AJL and ALA in Orlando, the tenth such program since 1995:

What: “Chronicle of a People: Over 250 Years of Florida Jewish History”

Where: Hyatt Regency Orlando - 9801 International Drive, Orlando, FL, Celebration 10 room.

When: Sunday, June 26, 2016, 1:00 - 2:30 PM

Free Admission

Please join the Jewish Information Committee of the ALA Ethnic and Multicultural Information Exchange Round Table (EMIERT-JIC) and the Association of Jewish Libraries for an exploration of over two and a half centuries of Jewish life in the Sunshine State during “Chronicle of a People: Over 250 Years of Florida Jewish History,” to be held on Sunday, June 26th from 1:00-2:30 pm at the Hyatt Orlando, Celebration 10 room.

During this session, guest speaker Marcia Jo Zerivitz, Founding Executive Director of the Jewish Museum of Florida-Florida International University (FIU) will discuss her research into the rich history and compelling backstories of Jewish Floridians. Zerivitz dispels the popular notion of Jews arriving in Florida only after World War II, as she found evidence of the community dating as far back as 1763, including such notable personalities as David Levy Yulee who saw Florida’s admission as the 27th state on March 3, 1845 and served as the first Jewish member of the United States Senate, and through the present, where Florida is both the third overall most populous state and has the third highest Jewish population in the US.

Zerivitz has traveled 250,000 miles across Florida to conduct grassroots research and retrieve the state’s unknown Jewish history to create an archival collection and traveling exhibition that would eventually become the Jewish Museum of Florida (JMOF) in Miami Beach. She also initiated legislation for Florida Jewish History Month (January) and a Jewish American Heritage Month (May) to increase awareness of the contributions by Jews to the state and nation. She authored all of the Florida entries for the Encyclopædia Judaica, and her scholarship has been used in films, historical journals, and books, including publications by Brandeis University Press; she has been published internationally. She has written two photo-documentaries for Arcadia Publishing: Jews of Greater Miami (2009) and Jews of Tampa (2013).

This 90-minute program is free and open to all attendees of ALA Annual Conference and AJL members and AJL 2016 Conference attendees. For more information, please visit www.eventscribe.com/2016/ala-annual/fsPopup.asp?Mode=presInfo&PresentationID=137968 and  www.alaannual.org.

Founded in 1982, the Ethnic and Multicultural Information and Exchange Round Table (EMIERT) serves as a source of information for recommended ethnic and multilingual collections, services, and programs.

The Jewish Information Committee (JIC) was inaugurated in the early 1970s as the Jewish Caucus by EMIERT founder David Cohen.  Initially an independent caucus in ALA, by the 1990s, as the Jewish Librarians Committee, it  became a part of EMIERT.   The JIC advocates for issues of Jewish concern within ALA and in libraries and promotes education by coordinating, sponsoring, and co-sponsoring programs on Jewish culture and history and other topics at ALA’s and other associations’ conferences and meetings.  The JIC also participates in collaborative programs with other ethnic caucuses and ALA affiliates such as AJL; REFORMA, The National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-speaking; and the American Theological Library Association (ATLA).  

2015 AJL Reference Award Announced

For more information, contact:

Rebecca Jefferson, Chair
Judaica Reference and Bibliography Awards Committee
Association of Jewish Libraries

May 2016
For immediate release


The Association of Jewish Libraries Announces the 2015 Judaica Reference Award Winner

The Association of Jewish Libraries encourages the publication of outstanding works of Judaica reference through its annual award. This year's Reference Award for a 2015 publication is given to The Edinburgh Companion to Modern Jewish Fiction, edited by David Brauner and Axel Staehler and published by Oxford University Press.

The Association of Jewish Libraries' Awards Committee was impressed with the high quality of this reference work, which they described  as a "compelling resource" that "fills a gap in the field." The 456 pages of The Edinburgh Companion to Modern Jewish Fiction are divided into three sections, covering for the first time the modern Jewish fiction of the Anglosphere, but also extending across transnational boundaries, and comparing major figures with lesser-known writers to highlight the diversity of the field. Each of the 28 essays, written by international experts in the field, tackle key themes in Jewish writing and thought, such as immigration, assimilation, Feminism, Zionism, the Holocaust and antisemitism.

Committee members were impressed with the inclusion of works traditionally designated as nonfiction, including memoir and biography, giving the book a wider scope than its title indicates. Another point of interest was the questions it raised about what is considered to be Jewish fiction. The book is supplied with an extensive index of works cited, providing an essential tool of reference for scholars and researchers in the field.


In Memory of Judy R. Cohn


by Ellen Cole

Judy R. Cohn was a dynamic member and leader of AJLSC (Association of Jewish Libraries, Southern California chapter) for many years.  When she died in 2015 our cherished colleague donated a large grant to AJL to help defray convention costs for members.  Her funds created the Judy R. Cohn Conference Stipend Fund.  We in AJLSC miss her and wish to share some facts about her life.

Judy was born in Omaha, Nebraska, to Bennett and Anne Cohn. Her brother is Doug Cohn. She attended The University of Oklahoma at Norman and The University of Nebraska at Omaha, graduating with a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Education.  She continued her education at the University of Denver, University of Southern California and UCLA.

She worked for the School District of Los Angles from 1963 until her 2005 retirement.  Judy spent the last fifteen years of her career as the Librarian and Library Media Teacher at Granada Hills Charter High School.  After retiring she worked as a California State University Long Beach Lecturer and Teacher and as a substitute Librarian at the Los Angeles Public Library.  Judy was married to Bernie Stickgold from 1989 until his death in 2004.

To say that Judy was active before and after retirement is a gross understatement.  Judy was very, very active in both the Jewish world and in the library world.  She was a member and leader of countless organizations including:  President, Association of Jewish Libraries of Southern California; Vice President, Study Groups, Brandeis University Women’s Committee; Curriculum Coordinator and President of the California School Library Association; and a Board Member of Friends of Encino-Tarzana Branch of the Los Angeles Public Library.  Judy was President of the Santa Monica Friends of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Communications Chair for the San Fernando Valley L. A. Philharmonic Friends group. She was a Board Member of Shirim Ha-Emek chapter of Hadassah.

We remember Judy’s warm, enthusiastic personality, her terrific sense of humor, her calm even handedness and her willingness to get involved and stay involved in a broad array of organizations and projects.  Her home was open to all.  She liked nothing better than having 30-50 friends or committee members over for a holiday dinner or organizational planning meeting.  Books and reading were her hobbies.  Throughout her career she amassed a huge collection of books that she stored in every nook and cranny of her home.  Children’s books were her favorite as reflected by her 25-year membership in The Children's Book Club in Pasadena. She loved librarians as much as books and always enjoyed the annual AJL conferences.

Judy passed away at age 79 at her home in Northridge, California, on May 31, 2015.  She suffered from a   malignant brain tumor discovered in November 2012.  We loved her.  We miss her.  We thank her for her incredible generosity to AJL.

Spotlight with Michelle Chesner

AJL Spotlight is an on-going series that highlights the day-in-a-life of our members and libraries. We interviewed Michelle Chesner, Norman E. Alexander Librarian for Jewish Studies at Columbia University Libraries.


Name: Michelle Chesner
Name of Institution: Columbia University
Job Title: Norman E. Alexander Librarian for Jewish Studies,
Columbia University Libraries

Twitter: @hchesner

Jewish Studies Blog: https://blogs.cul.columbia.edu/jewishstudiesatcul/
Footprints: footprints.ccnmtl.columbia.edu

What might your typical day look like?

1) Updating my Libguides reference pages (includes research on Yiddish, Ladino, Jewish women, Talmud)
2) Fixing a problem in the Footprints Database for tracking Hebrew book provenance
3) Posting on the history of Columbia's collection, based on a recently published article
4) Setting up a meeting with a professor to discuss how I can assist during the semester
5) Working on a grant proposal
6) Phone call to patron to troubleshoot a database
7) Setting up a date to meet with a vendor visiting from Israel
8) Purchasing titles for the general and rare collections
9) During the semester, give instruction to classes conducting Jewish Studies research

What is your AJL position?

Research, Archives and Special Collections (RAS); Council Member at Large

How long have you been an AJL member?

I joined AJL in 2006 upon learning about the AJL Scholarship in library school. I didn't receive the scholarship, but I realized that this was the most important association for my field. I stayed involved because I learned the importance of mentorship and networking when I was starting out as a Judaica librarian, and wanted to share that with new librarians.

Have you been to conferences?
Yes, the informative sessions and the opportunity to meet face-to-face with colleagues has been important to my work.  A lot of collaboration can happen at the AJL conference. For example, after presenting on the Footprints project, I spoke to a few librarians who were interested in integrating provenance information from their collections into the database, and some are in process as we speak! Also, an informal discussion about collections led to the formation of a Northeast Judaica Collections Consortium. Another conference memory is sitting together in a room listening to a presentation about the digitization of Dreyfus- related materials. A group of three or four institutions realized they hold similar collections and could potentially work together on a joint project in the future.

What book do you recommend us to read?

I finished The Archive Thief by Lisa Leff, and I enjoyed every minute of it. See my review in AJL Reviews for why I loved it!

The Wonders of Charleston!

Float your mouse over the picture to see the links to info on Charleston, the setting for AJL's June 19-22, 2016 conference!