"People of the Books" Blog

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!

AJL Elections Will Take Place in May

AJL will hold its regular biennial election May 2 to May 31, 2016. Once again, we will be voting by electronic ballot. It’s very important that we have up-to-date email addresses for all members. If your email address has changed, please contact our vice-president for membership, Sheryl Stahl at sstahl@huc.edu. Ballots will be sent to all current AJL members by email on May 2. If you do not receive one, please contact Joy Kingsolver at 630-988-4726 or joy.kingsolver@gmail.com. If you need a paper ballot, please call Joy to request one.


[Note: The current VP/President-Elect, already in place, is Amalia Warshenbrot. She will become the President during the 2016 AJL conference in June.]

Dina Herbert is the Coordinator for the Innovation Hub at the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, D.C. She was previously the librarian for the Iraqi Jewish Archive project at the National Archives and has held positions at the JTS Library in New York and the SAIS Library in Washington, D.C. She's been active in AJL since 2012 and co-chaired the 2015 Silver Spring Conference. Dina has a B.A. in Ancient Studies from Columbia University and both a B.A. and an M.A. in Hebrew Bible and Ancient Semitic Languages from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. She received her M.L.S. from the University of Maryland. She lives with her husband and young daughter in Northern Virginia.

VP for Membership
Shulamis Hes manages print/digital resource integration and spending, including 400 databases and over 300,000 journals, for Yeshiva University’s (YU) three libraries; and guides patrons in general and Judaic research. She develops tools and programs such as YUFind discovery service and The Last Minute, a marathon evening of research and writing assistance. Shulamis leads these patron-centered initiatives collaboratively with library staff, YU administration and faculty, and affiliated medical/law librarians.

VP for Development
Fred Isaac has been a member of AJL since 1991. He has served as SSC President and on the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee, and co-chaired the 2005 Conference in Oakland. He is the past librarian at Temple Sinai in Oakland and now is their historian and Archivist. He currently serves on the Board of the Jewish Community Federation of the Greater East Bay. When not involved in synagogue activities, he plays tennis, walks, and reads (preferably Judaica and crime fiction).

Pat Fenton is the Manager of Judaica and Public Services at the Ostrow Library of the American Jewish University in Los Angeles, and she teaches classes in rabbinic literature in the rabbinical school, the school of education, and the undergraduate college. A graduate of UC Berkeley and the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, Pat is a Conservative rabbi.

Nancy Sack has been a member of AJL for the past 25 years. She has served the association as Newsletter editor, exhibits chair, conference co-chair, and web slave. She was a cataloger at Northwestern University for nine years before moving to Hawaii 14 years ago to work at the University of Hawaii.

SSC President
Kathy Bloomfield is the founder of forwordsbooks, a national Jewish book fair business. Currently, she is the Clergy Assistant at Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation in Bethesda, MD where she is also assisting with the revitalization of the Adat Shalom library. Her volunteer roles have included Temple President, Mikveh Guide, URJ Outreach Fellow, and member of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee. Kathy’s website is http://forwordsbooks.com, where she writes about children’s literature with Jewish values content.

Susan Kusel is the librarian at Temple Rodef Shalom in Falls Church, Virginia. She is also the children's book buyer and selector for Words bookstore in Maplewood, New Jersey and the owner of Dream On Books, a book consulting company. She has been a librarian at Arlington Public Library, and a bookseller for Politics and Prose and Child's Play. She was a member of the 2015 Caldecott Medal selection committee and is currently a member of the Sydney Taylor Book Award committee.

RAS President
Rebecca Jefferson has been a member of AJL since 2010, and since 2012 has served as a co-editor for the Adult Reviews section of the AJL newsletter. She has served also as the AJL RAS Vice President for two years between 2014-2016. As a librarian, Jefferson is responsible for the collection development and overall management of the Isser and Rae Price Library of Judaica at the University of Florida. Since 2015, she has been the Principle Investigator on a National Endowment for the Humanities Challenge Grant to refocus the Judaica Library as a regional center of excellence for Jewish resources from Florida, Latin American and the Caribbean. Jefferson holds a Ph.D. in Medieval Hebrew from the University of Cambridge. She previously worked as a research associate in Cambridge University Library where she was the bibliographer for the Cairo Genizah collections.

Rachel Simon is a cataloger at Princeton University, and researches Jews in the modern Middle East and North Africa. She contributes regularly to AJL Reviews, has twice been a member of the RAS Cataloging Committee (chairing it once), as well as the RAS Bibliography and Reference Awards Committee, the Education Committee, and the By-Laws Committee. Rachel introduced the "Judaica/Hebraica T-shirt" activity at the AJL conference lunch. Among her recent scholarly contributions, she has been a section editor of the online edition of the Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World (Brill), writing several entries including those on Jewish printing and publishing and on Jewish journals. She also compiled an annotated bibliography on the Jews of North Africa for Oxford Bibliographies Online.


For Immediate Release: April 2016

For more information, contact:
Ellen Tilman, Chair
Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee; Association of Jewish Libraries
Meyers Library, Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel
8339 Old York Road
Elkins Park, PA 19027
215-887-8700 ext 122


Elkins Park, PA - The Association of Jewish Libraries is now accepting titles to be considered for the 2017 Sydney Taylor Book Award. This prize, named for the author of the beloved All-of-a-Kind Family series, recognizes the best in children’s and teen literature of Jewish content.  Children’s and teen books that meet these criteria are eligible:

  1. The book has a 2016 copyright.
  2. The book has literary merit.
  3. The book has positive or authentic Jewish religious or cultural content.
  4. The book is appropriate for the intended grade level in style, vocabulary, format, and illustration.
  5. Whether fiction or nonfiction, the book is solidly rooted in authentic and accurate detail through scholarship and research by the author.
  6. Textbooks and reprints are not eligible, although revised editions and re-illustrated editions are eligible.

In order to be considered for the award, a review copy must be sent to each of the nine members of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee. No application form is necessary. Review copies must be received no later than November 30, 2016. The awards will be announced in January, 2017.  

More details are available from Ellen Tilman, Chair of the committee at chair@sydneytaylorbookaward.org or at www.SydneyTaylorBookAward.org, a section of the Association of Jewish Libraries website.