By Barbara Bietz, Chair, Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee
I recently returned from an inspiring weekend in New York attending the AJL Mid-Winter Board and Council Meeting. Earlier in January I experienced a flurry of activity for the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee and I was excited about the announcement of the 2011 Awards. It was so heartwarming to arrive in New York to discover that everyone from AJL was equally enthusiastic and appreciate of the committee’s efforts. On Sunday night after the Board meeting, the SSC gang had a dinner meeting at Mr. Broadway (SSC is the Synagogue, School & Center division of AJL, which oversees the Sydney Taylor Book Award). Over pickles and stuffed cabbage, SSC President Joyce Levine led the group. We discussed important issues and brainstormed solutions, including outreach to library volunteers, updating our blog, and finding more way to reach out to the AJL community. As I looked at all the faces at the table I felt a sense of awe. Here we sat, a group of passionate, committed peoples from various parts of the country and Canada, with a shared mission – to promote Jewish libraries. Whether it’s placing the perfect book in the right hands, educating others, or fundraising – it’s all about doing the best for our communities.
The Monday morning Council meeting started early – with plenty of coffee and pastries for all! Development Chair and SSC Secretary Kathe Pinchuck shared an inspiring D’var Torah that underscored our commitment as a group. I didn’t know what to expect from the meeting. AJL President Jim Rosenbloom encouraged everyone to share their thoughts and concerns. We tackled some serious challenges – from budget cuts to convention planning and more. There were respectful disagreements, but overall I was encouraged by the level of respect that everyone showed one another. There was a consensus about the importance of welcoming to new members, supporting local chapters, and helping library school students follow a path towards Judaica librarianship. Although much was accomplished, the meeting was also an opportunity for everyone to share good news, visit with old friends, and connect with new ones. I have a wonderful time in New York and feel honored to be part of the AJL family. There are lots of committees that need hands and hearts – so if you have a bit of time and you would like to participate, please consider AJL!