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The 2015 AJL annual conference will be held in Silver Spring, Maryland, June 21-24.

Proceedings and podcasts of the 2014 conference will be online shortly.


Classification and Cataloging: Synagogues & Center

Choosing a Classification System

When choosing a classification (call number system) for your library, consider the following issues: Do you have Judaica only or a broad collection with a Judaica component? Do you have staff with the time and training to create call numbers or do you need to find cataloging with a call number included?

Click on this chart to learn about the advantages and disadvantages of using the following classification schemes in a Judaic library:

  • Library of Congress (LC) (rarely used in synagogues; most often used in academic libraries)
  • Dewey ( to learn more about Dewey services from OCLC or to order materials click here; )
  • Elazar (to order the Elazar classification scheme, ask your local Jewish bookstore or click here to order from Barnes and Noble, or click here to order from Amazon)
  • Weine (to order a print version of this scheme, see the order form under AJL publications on the AJL website . This item is provided free online to AJL members)

Suggested reading:

Weinberg, Bella Hass "Judaica classification schemes for synagogues and school libraries: a structural analysis," Judaica Librarianship. V. 4:1 pp. 26-30.

Levy, David B. "Ancient to Modern Jewish Classification Systems" 2001

Obtaining Cataloging Information from Other Sources

There are a number of ways to obtain cataloging for books and the other items in your library. The first place to look is in the book for the CIP—cataloging in publication, which can be copied onto paper or digital format. The web has made obtaining free cataloging very easy.

The Library of Congress's MARC (Machine Readable Cataloging) records, available from their online catalog, may be downloaded directly into many library automation systems. Services such as OCLC and Marcive, Brodart, and local library consortia, can provide cataloging in both paper and digital format for a fee.

A free system which can be used to catalog very small collections is at Librarything.com

Many Judaica libraries have made their catalogs accessible online. AJL provides links on its website to many members' catalogs to facilitate copy cataloging. For new books, library vendors such as Baker & Taylor and Brodart, will provide cataloging for an additional fee with your purchase.

If you purchase software capable of z39.50 searches, you will be able to download cataloging directly from some libraries into your library's own automation system. One such product is BookWhere.

The cataloging information may also contain classification information, which is not the same thing. A quick distinction is that cataloging describes an item, while classification organizes its placement within the collection, summed up as "what" vs. "where." Classification systems include the Dewey Decimal System, Library of Congress, Weine, and Elazar. The last two are classification systems for libraries of Judaica.

The Central Cataloging Service (Sinai Temple Blumenthal Library) helps Judaica librarians and lay people who need to catalog books into the Elazar classification systems. It is available electronically. http://www.jewishlibraries.org/main/Resources.aspx


Cataloging Principles presented by Rachel Glasser at the 2003 AJL Convention.

Organizing, Classifying & Cataloging Your Library presented by Rachel Kamin at the 2005 AJL Convention.

Transliterating Hebrew

The Library of Congress has a romanization chart for transliterating Hebrew characters into Latin letters. Additional information about Hebrew cataloging issues is available from Rachel Simon, who, in collaboration with Paul Maher and Joan Biella, has created a useful Hebrew cataloging resource.

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