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Entries for 'Heidi Estrin'

Welcome back to the Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour! We've got three more exciting interviews for you today.

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="138" caption="Emma's Poem"][/caption]

Emma's Poem: The Voice of the Statue of Liberty is a 2011 Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Younger Readers Category.

Read an interview with author Linda Glaser at ASHarmony with blogger Elizabeth Lipp.

Here's a teaser:
Elizabeth: Linda, I was surprised to read that you struggled as a young reader. How does your struggles as a young reader inform your writing for young readers?

Linda: Yes. I did struggle with reading when I was a kid. In fact, I thought I'd never learn how. That may be why I use a clear simple style when I write for children. I was the type of reader who needed that. And now, I want my books to be accessible to all children--including those who find reading difficult. When I do school visits I always let kids know that I struggled to read. I figure there are probably some kids listening who are heartened to hear that I know what they are going through and that there is hope.

Read more...

Statue of Liberty under constructionClaire Nivola is the illustrator of Emma's Poem.

Read an interview with Claire at Lori Calabrese with blogger (wait for it) Lori Calabrese.

Here's a teaser:
Lori: Emma Lazarus's famous lines inspired the way we envision America's exceptional freedom and the way we hold it dear today. How were you inspired to create the amazing illustrations in Emma's Poem?

Claire: Most inspiring for me was the photographic record of the time - pictures of newly arrived immigrants, photographs of the statue itself partially uncrated, of the statue once erected seen from the decks of ships arriving in the N.Y. harbor. Photography was still in its infancy then, but often those early black and white pictures documenting the arrival of a refugee or a family carrying all its modest belongings provided a powerful, deeply telling, and poignant record.

Read more...

One is Not a Lonely NumberOne Is Not a Lonely Number is a 2011 Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Older Readers Category.

Read an interview with author Evelyn Krieger at Ima On and Off the Bima with blogger Phyllis Sommer.

Here's a teaser:

Phyllis: What inspired you to write this story? I see from your biography that you are one of six kids, what brought you to a story about an only child?

Evelyn: When you are the oldest of six kids, its only natural to occasionally wonder what it's like to be an only child.As part of my preparation for the book, I interviewed only children--both kids and adults.  I remember a first grader who wanted a sibling so badly that he invented his mother's pregnancy for show and tell. And I fell for it!

Read more...

Tune in tomorrow for interviews with Barbara Diamond Goldin (Cakes and Miracles: A Purim Tale) at Great Kid Books, Jaime Zollars (illustrator, Cakes and Miracles) at The Book of Life, and Susan Lynn Meyer (Black Radishes) at The Three R's - Reading, 'Riting, & Research.
The Sydney Taylor Book Award 2011 Blog Tour begins today with three stops!

ResistanceResistance is a 2011 Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Older Readers Category.

Read an interview with author Carla Jablonski at Jewish Comics with blogger Steven Bergson.

Here's a teaser:
Steven: When did the idea for writing the Resistance books come to you? Was there a particular event that occurred which inspired you to write it?

Carla: The war in Iraq, actually, got me wondering about what it would be like to live in an occupied country. I was also interested in the tensions between an experience as it is happening vs. history or hindsight.

Read more...

image from Resistance

Leland Purvis is the illustrator of the graphic novel, Resistance.

Read an interview with Leland at Shelf-Employed with blogger Lisa Taylor.

Here's a teaser:



Lisa: In Resistance, you often use Paul’s sketchbook to portray people or events  in the story. I found it interesting that, in most cases, Paul’s sketchbook depicts events not through the filtered eye of the young boy, but as they are. In my mind, that tells a story in itself - that the behavior of Nazi  Germany was so horrific that exaggeration, even for an imaginative young boy, is impossible. Was that the point that you were trying to make, or does the sketchbook have another purpose in the story?

Leland: The sketchbook serves a couple of purposes, which is why you were sensing a dual-role, essentially. On the one hand it was a narrative device by which Paul could be valuable to the Maquis resistance in a credible way. Also it does provide a look into Paul's head about his reaction to the town and people around him. We very much included panels that were strictly Paul's P.O.V. This has continued into the sequels.

Read more...


Modeh Ani

Modeh Ani: A Good Morning Book is a 2011 Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Younger Readers Category. Its predecessor, The Bedtime Sh'ma, was the 2008 Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Younger Readers Category.

Read an interview with author Sarah Gershman at Biblio File with blogger Jennie Rothschild.

Here's a teaser:
Jennie: Many Jews do not write out God and instead use a substitute, such as G-d. However, throughout your book, you use God. Why did you make this decision and do you have a response to those who are critical of it (I noticed it came up in the Amazon reviews of the Bedtime Sh'ma.)

Sarah: My main motivation was to make the book accessible to people of all backgrounds. That being said, there are also Rabbinic opinions that say that writing God in English is not the same thing as writing God's full name in Hebrew. We were careful not to do that in the Hebrew portions of the book, as well as on the Bedtime Sh'ma CD.

Read more...

Tune in tomorrow for interviews with Linda Glaser (author, Emma's Poem: The Voice of the Statue of Liberty) at ASHarmony, Claire Nivola (illustrator, Emma's Poem) at Lori Calabrese, and Evelyn Krieger (One is Not a Lonely Number) at Ima On and Off the Bima.

Here’s this week’s collection of links about libraries, Jewish libraries, librarianship and more. Many thanks to Marie Cloutier for establishing this feature on AJL's Blog, and welcome to Bob Schrier, who now takes up the reins!



In the recent reference workshop held by the local NYC chapter of AJL, Columbia University’s Michelle Chesner discussed the social bookmarking tool Delicious. If you haven't signed up for an account yet, now is the time. Use Delicious to save your bookmarks into a searchable index that can be shared with others and is web-accessible (rather than accessible only locally on your computer).   Search and see what a couple of AJL members have done with Delicious here and here.


Are upper-classmen popping into your library yet to begin looking for jobs? JewishJobs provides a searchable database and weekly email digest for Jewish-related jobs nationwide.


Cooking based on the weekly parsha brought to you by Elisha's Double Portion. Each week, Elisha takes some element of the weekly Torah portion and transforms it into an idea for a recipe. Look at her recipe for gold dusted chocolate covered sesame cookies for Parshas Terumah.


Keep your eyes on the National Digital Public Library program sponsored by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, which is attempting to make millions of books and resources accessible to library and school systems nationwide for free (as opposed to GoogleBooks). Follow their blog here at Library City.


The European Holocaust Research Infrastructure recently began its large-scale four year project. Financially sponsored by the EU, 20 organizations worldwide are joining together on a collaborative digitization program that will promote greater access to geographically dispersed Holocaust documents and artifacts.


Check out Anya's War, a new young adult Jewish novel by Andrea Alban about a girl and her family who escape Hitler's forces by running away to China. The book is due to be released sometime in the beginning of this month.



Enjoy! Email Bob at schriro at gmail.com with feedback and suggestions of links for future roundups!

Posted in: Link Round-Up
AJL Council Meeting 2011

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!


The Sydney Taylor Book Award will be celebrating and showcasing its 2011 gold and silver medalists with a Blog Tour, February 6-11, 2011! Interviews with winning authors and illustrators will appear on a wide variety of Jewish, kidlit, and family-interest blogs. For those of you who have not yet experienced a Blog Tour, it's basically a virtual book tour. Instead of going to a library or bookstore to see an author or illustrator speak, you go to a website on or after the advertised date to read an author’s or illustrator's interview.


Below is the schedule for the 2011 Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour. Please follow the links to visit the hosting blogs on or after their tour dates, and be sure to leave plenty of comments!

For the full list of this year's winners, honors, and notable books, please visit the Association of Jewish Libraries website.

THE 2011 SYDNEY TAYLOR BOOK AWARD BLOG TOUR

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 6, 2011

Carla Jablonski, author of Resistance
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Older Readers Category
at Jewish Comics

Leland Purvis, illustrator of Resistance
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Older Readers Category
at Shelf-Employed

Sarah Gershman, author of Modeh Ani: A Good Morning Book
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Younger Readers Category
at Biblio File

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 7, 2011

Linda Glaser, author of Emma’s Poem: The Voice of the Statue of Liberty
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Younger Readers Category
at ASHarmony

Claire Nivola, illustrator of Emma’s Poem: The Voice of the Statue of Liberty
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Younger Readers Category
at Lori Calabrese

Evelyn Krieger, author of One Is Not a Lonely Number
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Older Readers Category
at Ima On and Off the Bima

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 8, 2011

Barbara Diamond Goldin, author of Cakes and Miracles: A Purim Tale
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Younger Readers Category
at Great Kid Books

Jaime Zollars, illustrator of Cakes and Miracles: A Purim Tale
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Younger Readers Category
at The Book of Life

Susan Lynn Meyer, author of Black Radishes
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Older Readers Category
at The 3 Rs – Reading, ‘Riting & Research





WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 2011

Howard Schwartz, author of Gathering Sparks
Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Younger Readers Category
at Boston Bibliophile

Barry Deutsch, author and illustrator of Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword
Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Older Readers Category
at BewilderBlog

Dana Reinhardt, author of The Things a Brother Knows
Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Teen Readers Category
at A Chair, a Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 2011

Kristina Swarner, illustrator of Gathering Sparks
Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Younger Readers Category
And illustrator of Modeh Ani: A Good Morning Book
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Younger Readers Category
at Alice Pope’s SCBWI Children’s Market Blog



Sarah Darer Littman, author of Life, After
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Teen Readers Category
at Into the Wardrobe

Eishes Chayil, author of Hush
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Teen Readers Category
at Frume Sarah’s World

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 11, 2011

Morris Gleitzman, author of Once
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Teen Readers Category
at The Fourth Musketeer

Sydney Taylor Award Winners – Wrap-Up
All winners, all categories
at The Whole Megillah


Music: "Conflict in the Middle Table" by Michael Stampler

Howard Schwartz and Kristina Swarner, author and illustrator of Gathering Sparks, Barry Deutsch, author and illustrator of Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword, and Dana Reinhardt, author of The Things a Brother Knows are the 2011 winners of the prestigious Sydney Taylor Book Award.

The Sydney Taylor Book Award honors new books for children and teens that exemplify the highest literary standards while authentically portraying the Jewish experience. The award memorializes Sydney Taylor, author of the classic All-of-a-Kind Family series. The winners will receive their awards at the Association of Jewish Libraries convention in Montreal this June.

Schwartz and Swarner will receive the 2011 gold medal in the Sydney Taylor Book Award’s Younger Readers Category for Gathering Sparks, published by Roaring Brook Press, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing. Both are second time winners. In 1992, Schwartz received the Sydney Taylor Book Award for The Diamond Tree: Jewish Tales from Around the World. Swarner earned the 2008 Sydney Taylor Book Award for her illustrations in The Bedtime Sh’ma: A Goodnight Book by Sarah Gershman.

Gathering Sparks is based on a sixteenth century teaching of “tikkun olam,” or “repairing the world.” Committee member Debbie Colodny commented, “Schwartz spins a calming tale that suggests that the way to bring peace and well-being to our world is by doing good deeds and loving

one another... Swarner’s art and Schwartz’s poetic words interpret the concept of the vessel as a fleet of ships outlined in the night sky by millions of starry points of light.”

Deutsch will receive the 2011 gold medal in the Sydney Taylor Book Award’s Older Readers Category for Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword, published by Amulet Books, an imprint of Abrams Books. This is the first graphic novel to win the Award. Committee member Aimee Lurie noted, “Mirka is a clever, headstrong and imaginative heroine who will appeal to a wide audience. Teens who feel like they don’t fit in will have no trouble relating to her balancing what is best for her family versus her desire to fight dragons. Grounded in her religious beliefs, she is willing to put her fantasies aside to celebrate Shabbat. The illustrations strike the perfect balance of showing a realistic Orthodox community, while creating the perfect backdrop for a fairytale.”

Reinhardt will receive the 2011 gold medal in the Sydney Taylor Book Award’s Teen Readers Category for The Things a Brother Knows, published by Wendy Lamb Books, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books. Levi’s older brother Boaz is a military hero, and Levi has always lived in his shadow. Now Boaz is returning from war and it seems everyone thinks Levi is the luckiest boy in town. When Boaz refuses to engage with his family and barely leaves his room, Levi wonders if his brother will ever be normal. Committee member Rita Soltan said, “Reinhardt creates a moving portrayal of teen characters … She provides balance through Levi and Boaz’s Israeli grandfather, who served in Israel and has experienced war and suicide bombings.  Realistic and subtle, her story unfolds with enough suspense, sardonic humor and pathos to keep readers focused until a conclusion that leaves room for pondering interpretation.”  In 2007, Reinhardt earned a Sydney Taylor Honor Award for A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life.

Nine Sydney Taylor Honor Books were named for 2011.  For Younger Readers, the Honor Award Winners are: Modeh Ani: A Good Morning Book by Sarah Gershman with illustrations by Kristina Swarner (EKS Publishing), Emma's Poem: The Voice of the Statue of Liberty by Linda Glaser with illustrations by Claire A. Nivola (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children), and Cakes and Miracles: A Purim Tale by Barbara Diamond Goldin with illustrations by Jaime Zollars (Marshall Cavendish Children). Sydney Taylor Honor Award Winners for Older Readers include: Resistance by Carla Jablonski with art by Leland Purvis (First Second, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group), One Is Not a Lonely Number by Evelyn Krieger (YM Books, an imprint of YALDAH Media, Inc.), and Black Radishes by Susan Lynn Meyer (Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books). For Teen readers, the Honor Award Winners are: Hush by Eishes Chayil (Walker & Company, a division of Bloomsbury Publishing), Once by Morris Gleitzman (Henry Holt and Company), and Life, After by Sarah Darer Littman (Scholastic Press, an imprint of Scholastic, Inc.).

In addition to the medal-winners, the Award Committee designated twenty-seven Notable Books of Jewish Content for 2011: thirteen in the Younger Readers Category, seven in the Older Readers Category, and seven for Teens.  Notable titles, and more information about the Sydney Taylor Book Award, may be found online at www.SydneyTaylorBookAward.org.

A blog tour, featuring interviews with winning authors and illustrators, will take place in early February, with participation from a wide range of children's literature, family interest, and Jewish blogs. The blog tour schedule will appear on the Association of Jewish Libraries' blog "People of the Books" at JewishLibraries.org/blog.

# # #


The Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner for Younger Readers:

Gathering Sparks by Howard Schwartz with illustrations by Kristina Swarner

(Roaring Brook Press, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group)

The Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner for Older Readers:

Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword by Barry Deutsch

(Amulet Books, an imprint of Abrams)

The Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner for Teen Readers:

The Things a Brother Knows by Dana Reinhardt

(Wendy Lamb Books, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books)

Sydney Taylor Honor Award Winners for Younger Readers:

Modeh Ani: A Good Morning Book by Sarah Gershman with illustrations by Kristina Swarner

(EKS Publishing)

Emma's Poem: The Voice of the Statue of Liberty by Linda Glaser with illustrations by Claire A. Nivola

(Houghton Mifflin Books for Children)

Cakes and Miracles: A Purim Tale by Barbara Diamond Goldin with illustrations by Jaime Zollars

(Marshall Cavendish Children)

Sydney Taylor Honor Award Winners for Older Readers:

Resistance by Carla Jablonski with illustrations by Leland Purvis

(First Second, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group)

One Is Not a Lonely Number by Evelyn Krieger

(YM Books, an imprint of YALDAH Media, Inc.)

Black Radishes by Susan Lynn Meyer

(Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books)

Sydney Taylor Honor Award Winners for Teen Readers:

Hush by Eishes Chayil

(Walker & Company, a division of Bloomsbury Publishing)

Once by Morris Gleitzman

(Henry Holt and Company)

Life, After by Sarah Darer Littman

(Scholastic Press, an imprint of Scholastic, Inc.)

Notable Books for Younger Readers:

Engineer Ari and the Sukkah Express by Deborah Bodin Cohen with illustrations by Shahar Kober

(Kar-Ben, an imprint of Lerner)

Feivel's Flying Horses by Heidi Smith Hyde with illustrations by Johanna van der Sterre

(Kar-Ben, an imprint of Lerner)

Miriam in the Desert by Jacqueline Jules with illustrations by Natascia Ugliano

(Kar-Ben, an imprint of Lerner)

The Little Red Hen and the Passover Matzah by Leslie Kimmelman with illustrations by Paul Meisel

(Holiday House)

Say Hello, Lily by Deborah Lakritz with illustrations by Martha Aviles

(Kar-Ben, an imprint of Lerner)

Beautiful Yetta, The Yiddish Chicken by Daniel Pinkwater with illustrations by Jill Pinkwater

(Feiwel and Friends, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group)

A Tale of Two Seders by Mindy Avra Portnoy with illustrations by Valeria Cis

(Kar-Ben, an imprint of Lerner)

Jackie's Gift by Sharon Robinson with illustrations by E.B. Lewis

(The Viking Press, an imprint of Penguin)

Zishe the Strong Man by Robert Rubenstein with illustrations by Woody Miller

(Kar-Ben, an imprint of Lerner)

Sara Finds a Mitzva by Rebeka Simhaee with illustrations by Michael Weber

(Hachai Publishing)

Baxter, the Pig Who Wanted to be Kosher by Laurel Snyder with illustrations by David Goldin

(Tricycle Press, an imprint of The Crown Trade Group/Random House)

The Rooster Prince of Breslov by Ann Stampler with illustrations by Eugene Yelchin

(Clarion, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Dear Tree by Doba Rivka Weber with illustrations by Phyllis Saroff

(Hachai Publishing)

Notable Books for Older Readers:

Is It Night or Day? by Fern Schumer Chapman

(Farrar Straus Giroux, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group)

Kings and Carpenters: One Hundred Bible Land Jobs You Might Have Praised or Panned

by Laurie Coulter with illustrations by Mary Newbigging

(Annick Press)

Hot Pursuit: Murder in Mississippi by Stacia Deutsch and Rhody Cohon with illustrations by Craig Orback

(Kar-Ben, an imprint of Lerner)

The Orphan Rescue by Anne Dublin with illustrations by Qin Leng

(Second Story Press)

The Year of Goodbyes by Debbie Levy

(Hyperion Books, an imprint of Disney Book Group)

Sharing Our Homeland: Palestinian and Jewish Children at Summer Peace Camp by Trisha Marx with photographs by Cindy Karp

(Lee & Low Books)

Mitzvah the Mutt by Sylvia Rouss with illustrations by Martha Rast

(Yaldah Publishing)

Notable Books for Teen Readers:

An Unspeakable Crime: The Prosecution and Persecution of Leo Frank by Elaine Marie Alphin

(Carolrhoda Books, an imprint of Lerner)

Annexed by Sharon Dogar

(Houghton Mifflin Books for Children)

Inconvenient by Margie Gelbwasser

(Flux, an imprint of Llewellyn Worldwide Ltd.)

Anne Frank: The Anne Frank House Authorized Graphic Biography by Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon

(Hill and Wang)

Queen of Secrets by Jenny Meyerhoff

(Farrar Straus Giroux, an imprint of Macmillan)

Under a Red Sky: Memoir of a Childhood in Communist Romania by Haya Leah Molnar

(Farrar Straus Giroux, an imprint of Macmillan)

Cry of the Giraffe by Judie Oron

(Annick Press)
An anti-Semitic incident at Indiana University, Bloomington in November included not only rock-throwing, but defilement of Jewish texts from the shelves of the library. In support of IU's Jewish Studies program, our AJL member librarian at IU, and the university's efforts to combat prejudice, AJL President James Rosenbloom sent the following letter to IU President Dr. Michael A. McRobbie.
Dear Dr. McRobbie:

Recent anti-Semitic acts on the campus of Indiana University Bloomington are of great concern to the Association of Jewish Libraries, of which librarian Noa Wahrman is a member. Rock throwing at a Chabad House, at a church where synagogue services are held, and at a Hillel Center are shocking acts of anti-Semitic vandalism. The vandal or vandals also struck at the cultural heart of Judaism by taking eight volumes of Hebrew commentaries on the Talmud from the Library’s shelves and defiling them in bathrooms. We are not dealing with someone ignorant of Judaism. This act is a deliberate effort to insult and hurt Jews.

The Association of Jewish Libraries condemns these vicious acts. We are pleased to hear that the FBI and police are actively seeking to apprehend the individual or individuals responsible for this hate crime. We commend your administration’s and community’s quick and strong response to these acts. This is an appropriate moment to educate everyone in your community about the evils of prejudice and hatred in general, and about anti-Semitism in particular.

The members of the Association of Jewish Libraries stand in solidarity with you in your fight against anti-Semitism, and will support you in your efforts to combat this evil, which has unfortunately appeared on some campuses.

Yours truly,

James P. Rosenbloom
President, Association of Jewish Libraries

To read more about the incident itself in Jweekly, click here.

To read about Indiana University's response to the incident, click here.


Library Snapshot Day 2010

The People of the Book really do love libraries! In November 2010, during Jewish Book Month, 30 Jewish libraries participated in Library Snapshot Day.  The event, sponsored by the Association of Jewish Libraries, was created to let all types of Judaic libraries record what happens in a day in the life of a library. Across North America, libraries in synagogues, day schools, community centers and universities picked one day during the first two weeks of November to hold the event. Collectively, participating libraries served 3,548 patrons on Library Snapshot Day.

The Activities

From Jewish hubs like Chicago, IL to smaller Jewish communities like Tulsa, OK, from sunny Miami, FL to chilly Montreal, Quebec, Jewish libraries held author visits, study groups, literary and computer quizzes, artist receptions, book discussions, book sales, scavenger hunts, craft projects, parenting programs, charity drives, and children’s story times. Eleven of the participating libraries shared their circulation statistics, revealing that at least 745 books were checked out during Library Snapshot Day.

The Feedback

Every participating library reported overwhelmingly positive feedback from its community. Common themes included praise for the library as a quiet, peaceful environment in which to read and work, kudos for the hard work of librarians (many of whom, apparently, “rock”), and appreciation for the many print and digital resources provided. A patron at North Shore Hebrew Academy High School in Great Neck, NY said “The library is a great place to study and clear your head. I always feel relaxed and very welcomed when I come to the library, and I love the librarian.” A sixth-grader at the Sheila Sporn Library at Valley Beth Shalom in Encino, CA said “Libraries are important because they let people who don't have enough money get books to read.” A patron of the Brenner Library at Temple Emanuel in Denver, CO drives 150 miles from the mountains to make use of the facilities. Perhaps the general sentiments of library users are best summed up by a patron at the Feldman Library at Congregation B’nai Israel in Boca Raton, FL, who said “The library helps us to continue to be the People of the Book!”

What It All Means

Library Snapshot Day captured the diversity of services offered by Jewish libraries and underscored the importance of libraries in Jewish life. “Libraries and librarians often fly under the radar in their communities,” said Association of Jewish Libraries Vice-President, Heidi Estrin. “We are thrilled that, on Library Snapshot Day, over three thousand people expressed their love of Jewish libraries. We hope that the event will encourage even more people to use these amazing resources year-round.” A slide show of selected photographs submitted by participants may be viewed on AJL's blog "People of the Books" at jewishlibraries.org/blog.

The concept of Library Snapshot Day originated with the American Library Association, of which AJL is an affiliate. Click here for more information on ALA's Library Snapshot Day.

Please feel free to share this article and/or video on your site or via social networking. You can find AJL online at jewishlibraries.org, at facebook.com/jewishlibraries, and on Twitter @jewishlibraries.
Posted in: Announcements
The Association of Jewish Libraries is conducting an anonymous survey in order to study current trends in Judaica libraries and to
anticipate future developments across AJL divisions (School, Synagogue & Centers and Research, Archives & Special Libraries).

The anonymous survey was developed by a work group of SSC and RAS members. It includes questions about age, education level, salary range, and retirement plans, and questions regarding the library you are affiliated with. It is vital for us to know about our members and other readers of Hasafran ? please respond even if you are not a member of AJL. The survey will be conducted anonymously over a secured web page ? no personal data will be shared. We will share the overall results with you.

The results will be of enormous significance for AJL, to help develop our goals and services. By completing the survey, you will be helping yourself: a written report with reader-friendly statistics based on the results may help you demonstrate the value of your library, negotiate employment terms, or prove the necessity of additional resources.

The survey will take only about 10 minutes of your time. There are 25 questions, or far fewer if you are not currently employed. Please
submit it by November 26, 2010. Click here to begin the survey: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/ajlsurvey.

Thank you so much for participating!

Rachel Leket-Mor
RAS President

Joyce Levine
SSC President
Posted in: Announcements



One position on the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee will be available beginning January 1, 2011.

Applicants should be (or should become) members of AJL, familiar with the scope of Judaic children’s literature, experienced in writing critical reviews, willing and able to read and review over 120 books during the course of a year, and able to meet deadlines.

Committee members are expected to attend annual conventions and to participate in committee-sponsored events, including speaking at the Committee’s annual AJL Convention presentation. The term of membership on the Committee is four years.  Each committee member typically receives more than $2,000 in books for review each year, which may be kept for personal use or added to the member’s library. Membership on the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee is both fun and intellectually challenging, but it also requires a substantial commitment in terms of time and energy.

Members must be able to submit reviews electronically and correspond with other committee members through regular e-mail.

To apply, send an e-mail indicating the reasons for your interest, a resume, and several examples of your recent reviews of Jewish children’s books to Barbara Bietz, Committee Chair, at chair@sydneytaylorbookaward.org. Applications will be accepted through December 1, 2010.


Nancy Pearl is Seattle's superstar librarian. She invented the one-book-one-community concept, she promotes reading through her Book Lust titles, blog, podcast, and TV show, and she even has an librarian action figure modeled after her!

When the AJL convention was in its initial planning stages, Nancy Pearl was asked to be the keynote speaker. Unfortunately, family obligations prevented her from being able to attend, and we were lucky to be able to schedule Dr. Joseph Janes instead. We thought it would still be nice if you all could hear from Nancy, so we asked her for a Convention Countdown interview, and recorded a short conversation with her during Book Expo America in New York in May, 2010. Click the link below to hear the audio clip!

Deluxe Librarian Action Figure

Click here to listen to an interview with Nancy Pearl!

This is the final entry in the Convention Countdown series on People of the Books. Thanks to everyone for reading and for forwarding the link, and mazel tov to all those who won $10 Amazon gift cards in our "Mention Convention" weekly drawings. You have ONE MORE CHANCE to win by sharing this post with friends and colleagues.

See you in Seattle at AJL!



MENTION CONVENTION


Enter the Mention Convention weekly drawing for a $10 Amazon gift card by linking back to this interview on your blog, on Facebook, or on Twitter (hashtag #AJL10) — just email pr@jewishlibraries.org to tell us what you did!

Posted in: Convention
Howard Droker is a lawyer, a historian, an author, and a docent for the Washington State Jewish Historical Society. He will be leading a tour of Jewish Seattle for convention-goers on Wednesday, July 7.

Congregation Ohaveth Sholum

Howard, can you give us a little sneak peek into the kinds of things people will see on this tour?

Our tour's first stop will be in Pioneer Square, at the Gold Rush National Historic Park. We will briefly examine the role of Jewish merchants in outfitting the prospectors bound for Alaska and the Canadian Yukon. If participants are interested, we can take a 4 or 5-block walk to see the historic buildings that housed some of the Jewish merchants.

We'll then head east to Capitol Hill to visit Temple de Hirsch, the oldest Reform synagogue. The Schoenfeld Chapel houses some of the accoutrements of the 1907 building. And the Temple library is worth seeing. Then we'll drive around the neighborhood where the prosperous Central European founders and members of the Temple lived, south of Volunteer Park.

Driving south, we'll see how the other half lived, the Yesler/Cherry neighborhood where the Eastern Europeans and Sephardim mostly settled. We'll see several former synagogues and the Talmud Torah that have been converted to other uses.

Finally, we'll visit the Seward Park area where three Orthodox (two Sephardic, one Ashkenazic) synagogues relocated from the Central Area between 1954 and 1968. I hope to make arrangements to see the sanctuaries of two or three of the synagogues.

Please give us a brief overview of the history of Jews in the Pacific Northwest.

Being a historian, I can't give you a brief overview! But I'm attaching a pdf of a relatively brief article (about 3 pages) called A Sketch of Seattle's Jewish History.

What’s one Jewish thing about Seattle that most people would be surprised to learn?

I think the most surprising thing about Jewish Seattle is the prominence of the Sephardic community. Seattle has had historically, and continues to have, by far the largest percentage of Sephardim of any city in the country. As a result, Sephardic traditions and culture have survived to a surprising degree.

Can you tell us about any Jewish books set in Seattle, or books about Jews in the area?

I co-authored Family of Strangers: Building a Jewish Community in Washington State (University of Washington Press, 2004) with Molly Cone and Jacqueline Williams. The book draws on hundreds of newspaper accounts, articles, and oral histories to provide the first comprehensive account of Washington State's Jewish residents. You may recognize the name Molly Cone, as she is also a well-known and widely published author of books for Jewish children and teenagers.

What Seattle experience should visitors be sure not to miss?

Visitors should not miss the Pike Place Market on the western edge of downtown Seattle. Jews, especially the Sephardim, were prominent fish mongers and vegetable sellers in the market from almost the beginning in 1907. I think there is only one Jewish-owned business remaining, Pure Food Fish Market. The Market today is colorful and interesting, with farmers selling produce and flowers, craftsmen offering their wares, restaurants, and buskers. Plus the views of Elliott Bay from the Market are stunning.

Howard, thanks for the preview! We'll be seeing you on the tour!

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At the Seattle convention, on Monday July 5, Diane Romm and I will be presenting a session called AJL & Social Media. We’ll be addressing the finer points of AJL’s website, blog, podcast, etc., and also discussing other social media sites of Jewish literary interest.

If this is a topic that interests you, and you think you might attend our session, I’ve got a little preview for you. You may remember last convention’s social media session with podcaster Mark Blevis in 2009, which inspired me to expand upon the topic on my podcast, The Book of Life. I’d like to invite you to go back and listen to those episodes NOW, as they make great background material for what we’ll be discussing at our Seattle session!

Please visit The Book of Life and listen to the 4-part “Why Be Social?” series of episodes. You can find the audio for all four parts here: http://jewishbooks.blogspot.com/2009/08/why-be-social-whole-megillah.html. Or you can look at the four individual postings, which each include links to extra materials and sometimes bonus video as well. Listening to this short series will give you a good grounding in Jewish social media and why it’s important. It’s certainly not required for attending our session, but I think it would help you get more out of it.

Part 1: Why Be Social? Philosophy

Part 2: Why Be Social? Definitions

Part 3: Why Be Social? Suggestions

Part 4: Why Be Social? Create-Consume-Contribute

Looking forward to seeing you in Seattle!
Heidi Estrin
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Wendy Marcus, the music director at Temple Beth Am in Seattle, has been hard at work on arrangements for the AJL Convention!




Wendy, you will be wearing several hats at the AJL convention, as a presenter and as a musician. Can you tell us a little about your various AJL activities?

Full disclosure: I am a daughter of a librarian.

I’m connected to NW AJL Chapter president Toby Harris through Temple Beth Am, in Seattle’s Jewishly happening North End, where I am music director and editor of Drash: Northwest Mosaic. Toby and Ronnie’s daughters were Bat Mitzvah students of mine!

I’ve scheduled musicians and presenters for the open-to-the-public afternoon on Sunday, July 4, and will serve as emcee. As well, on Tuesday, July 6 at 10:30am, I will gab about community building with the creation of an annual Jewish/Northwest literary journal, Drash: Northwest Mosaic – we’re releasing Volume IV! -- and about Drash readings in farflung corners of the region (fair number of ferries involved).

Your book, Polyglot, was a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award. Please tell us a little about the book!

Since 2004, I’ve been writing short stories, especially when inspired by unforgettable characters. I gathered those characters up into Polyglot: Stories of the West’s Wet Edge and won the 2009 Serena McDonald Kennedy Award from Georgia’s Snake Nation Press. Polyglot chronicles lives between Vancouver, BC, and Vancouver, Washington. The stories are linked by the advice of a gay Gypsy columnist (I am a former newspaper reporter), and there are sprinklings from ten different languages (hence the book’s title) – including the language of my heart,Yiddish. The Jewish Book Council kindly named Polyglot one of three finalists in its annual contest this spring. A sequel is in the works.

Studies have shown that Seattle is the most literate city in the nation. What makes Seattle such a great place for reading and libraries?

Between October and April, when skies are gray and sodden here, a good book and a hot cup of coffee keep serious depression at bay! While Seattleites love a good chat and at the slightest sun break leave work early to kayak, hike, bike, run, ski, or garden, we seek individual space, humbled by our dramatic natural elements. There’s a loner streak in us – we like to think, write, read, observe – alone; our external landscape mirrors our internal one.

Can you give us a recommendation for any recent Jewish books you enjoyed?

If you can overlook the typos, Borgo Press has come out with an edited version of short stories by Montague Glass (1877-1934), Potash and Perlmutter, about fictitious partners Abe Potash and Morris Perlmutter, and immigrant foibles in New York’s garment industry. While the dialog is dated and laced with wacky Yidddishisms and German-Jewishisms, the book is a valuable curio. It provides a lowbrow glimpse into the way people in the shmatte business really spoke and lived in the 1910s and 1920s. My grandfather, Louis Marcus, was in the ribbon business in NYC and the book allows me to imagine the kind of schmoozing that went on between him, competitors, buyers, salesmen, and social climbers.

The Seattle area is the home of both Amazon and Apple. What’s your preference, Kindle or iPad? What are your feelings on digital books?

Feh. I don’t even have a cell phone.

What Seattle experience should visitors be sure not to miss?

Take a round-trip ferry ride between downtown Seattle and Bainbridge Island (about 40 minutes one way). Horizon to horizon mountains, glorious fresh air and all these guys baring their chests in 50-degree sunshine!

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April Halprin Wayland won the 2010 Sydney Taylor Book Award for her picture book New Year at the Pier: A Rosh Hashanah Story. She will be speaking at the 2010 AJL Convention, and will also be an honored guest at the Tuesday night gala, where she will receive her award.



April, the first AJL convention you ever attended was in 2009 in Chicago. The very next year, you’re attending as an honored guest, winner of the Sydney Taylor Book Award! Please talk a little about that transformation.

Honestly, I attended the AJL convention because it was the week prior to ALA in the same Chicago hotel, I finally had a Jewish book coming out…and I had frequent flyer miles. Since I live in Southern California, this was a magic one-two punch—how could I NOT attend?

I didn’t know much about AJL but I’d known Susan Dubin for years in Los Angeles—in fact, she was one of the first readers of an early version of New Year at the Pier (and thank goodness for her terrific comments on that 2003 manuscript!)—but I had NO IDEA she was a mover and shaker in AJL until much later—silly me!

I’ve always loved the excitement of ALA and didn’t know what to expect at the AJL. The intimacy of this convention and the warm and welcoming hugs won me over. I enjoyed the Authors and Illustrators luncheon, loved attending sessions and gathering informally with attendees and other authors.

There was one amazing evening of pizza and camaraderie at certified “readiologist” Esmé Raji Codell’s Planet Esme Reading Room—a private, magical library which Esmé opens to speakers, writing groups, class field trips and gatherings like ours.

I was utterly star struck by you Heidi, by Barbara Beitz and others, including Mark Blevis of Just One More Book. I am still starstruck by you, Heidi!

Another favorite memory is when I nervously introduced myself to Natalie Blitt, program director of the PJ Library. I wanted to ask her how to submit my book for consideration by her organization. She looked at me a bit surprised…and then smiled. “New Year at the Pier is on our list. It’s being sent out in August.” ALREADY on their list? Already a special edition printed to be sent in August? I was over the moon!

Are you working on any new books, especially anything with Jewish content? Please tell us about your recent writing.

I am working on several books…one is a picture book with a Jewish theme. But I’ve learned that if I talk about an idea before it’s fully hatched, energy leaks out of it… It’s an idea I’ve been playing with for years. I recently wrote a poem incorporating this topic and that has helped me structure the book. Fingers crossed!

What else am I up to? I’ve been teaching a class on writing picture books for ten years through the UCLA Extension Writer’s Program. In addition to that one, I’ll be rolling out a new class this summer which I’m looking forward to.

And I took the Poem-A-Day Challenge for National Poetry Month, which was scary because it can take weeks for me to write one poem. Write a poem every single day and post it for all to read? But I did and I can actually say that it changed my life.You can read the poems at http://www.aprilwayland.com/poetry/poetry-month.

Can you give us a recommendation for any recent Jewish books you enjoyed?

I am embarrassed to say that I’ve just discovered the 2006 book, Across the Alley by Richard Michelson, illustrated by E.B. Lewis (Putnam, 2006). Michelson wrote the wonderful As Good as Anybody, illustrated by Raul Colon (Knopf, 2009), about Martin Luther King Jr. and Abraham Joshua Heschel [which won the 2009 Sydney Taylor Book Award].

I bought both books at The AJL’s Western Regional Jewish Literature for Children Conference this year in Los Angeles.

The Seattle area is the home of both Amazon and Apple. What’s your preference, Kindle or iPad? What are your feelings on digital books, and the online world in general?

I love the size of my Kindle, which revolutionized my reading. But holding my Kindle as they introduce the iPad is like owning a black and white TV when they introduced color. Suddenly I am drooling over the newest thing. HOW DO THEY DO THAT? That, my friend, is the glory and the danger of how our appetites for new stuff are created. (See The Story of Stuff.)

As a poet and the author of a novel in poems and several picture books, I am waiting for the next generation of digital reader that allows us to increase the font size without messing with the alignment of each poem or the arrangement of text next to an illustration. It doesn’t work yet but it will…soon.

As I said, my Kindle, which my husband and son gave me as a surprise when New Year at the Pier was first published, has changed me as a reader. I can read effortlessly at night when my eyes are tired, of course.

But more than that: when my mother, a voracious reader, was in an auto accident on a Sunday and needed a book, the fact that I could download one instantly and teach this 87-year-old technophobe to use it in a few minutes was a game changer for us both.

And when we were in Kauai, Hawaii, looking for Makua Beach where the sea turtles hang out, I downloaded a copy of Hidden Kauai as we were driving! That made my husband a true believer.

What are you most looking forward to about visiting Seattle?

Seeing my cousins! Pike’s market and local thrift stores!

Okay, for a more erudite answer, I can’t wait to take in all the convention has to offer…especially after a year of presenting my first Jewish book at workshops, schools and synagogues.

Also, I’m crossing my fingers that Stéphane Jorisch, the illustrator of New Year at the Pier will be able to attend the convention. I’ve never met him but I adore the man from his kind emails and his extraordinary art.

April, as always, we love your enthusiasm! We can't wait to see you in Seattle!

Thanks, Heidi. And one final thing? Please listen to and then pass on: Circulate This: Stories from the School Library (http://www.csla.net/audio/) It’s a wonderful NPR-style audio magazine of interviews with teacher librarians, library staff, teachers, community members, parents, administrators, an author and most importantly, students…telling personal stories of the importance of school libraries and teacher librarians in their lives. (It’s about 47 min. long…I’m interviewed 20-24 minutes in.)

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If you are an author, editor, or publisher of Jewish books for children  or teens, please submit your 2010 titles for consideration. Click here for submission instructions, or e-mail Chair@SydneyTaylorBookAward.org for full details.
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The AJL Convention will take place at Seattle's Fairmont Olympic Hotel. We spoke to Conference Services Manager Sarah Carter to find out what's in store for convention attendees.




Sarah, please tell us a little about the Fairmont Olympic Hotel.


The Fairmont Olympic Hotel was the original site of the University of Washington, dated all the way back to 1861. Once converted into the “Grand Dame” hotel that it is now considered, in 1924, the property began hosting some of the Pacific Northwest’s most celebrated events. The Olympic boasts 450 rooms including 219 Suites and 2 Presidential Suites; a full service health club including indoor swimming pool, Jacuzzi, work out arena and saunas; as well as over 25,000 sq. ft. of meeting space. The Olympic has hosted Kings and Queens of over a dozen countries, celebrities of every art form and 8 different U.S. Presidents.

What makes the Fairmont the perfect place for a Jewish library convention?

The Fairmont Olympic Hotel has a long standing tradition of catering events specifically to the customers needs and preferences. One of our proudest features is our Kosher kitchen and our Kosher Catering process that has been in place since 1984. Carving out an entire sector of our kitchen and dedicating it to Kosher preparation and ensuring all staff have undergone proper training and education has made The Olympic the only high-end Kosher Catering company in the Seattle area.

Can you give us any insider tips about the hotel? What should convention attendees be sure not to miss?

Guests of The Fairmont Olympic are entitled to a plethora of amenities on site to help make their stay most enjoyable. For the active guest, our full service health club is equipped with state-of-the-art equipment, a full length indoor swimming pool, free weights and yoga balls. Be sure to check out to sign up for our Fairmont Presidents Club membership (www.fairmont.com/fpc) which is a free rewards program that grants you access to complimentary Addias sports attire rentals during your stay!

Happy hour is the best hour here at The Olympic. Both Shuckers and The Terrace Lounge have delicious small plates and drink specials that are sure to wet your appetite in the afternoon. Try the Halibut ‘n Chips or $1 oysters on the half-shell in Shuckers or the all-you-can-eat cheese platter for $12 in The Terrace. Bon appetit!

What’s a highlight of the neighborhood around the hotel?

The hotel is situated in the heart of downtown Seattle in what is known as the Financial District. Just a few short blocks from the famous landmark, Pike Place Market, guests of The Olympic and locals alike love strolling through its stalls browsing all the local farmers and crafts. The renowned 5th Avenue Musical Theatre is located across the street from the hotel, entertaining the masses with some of Broadway’s biggest hits. Guests enjoy shopping at Westlake Center and Pacific Place where entertainment, dining and fashionable boutiques collide. If its adventure you are looking for, Mount Rainer is a beautiful drive away for hiking and picnicking. South Lake Union, Lake Washington and Puget Sound all offer gorgeous views, pristine parks, boat tours and fishing escapes as well. There is truly something for everyone.

Be sure to stop by our Concierge Desk and chat with one of our agents to learn more about what Seattle has to offer you!

For you, what’s the best thing about Seattle?

To me, the best thing about Seattle is the abundance of nature so close to the city. The amazing views of the Olympic mountain range, Cascade Mountain range, Mount Rainier, Lake Washington, the Puget Sound and its many islands all surround the city with such beauty! Boat cruise and hiking are among my favorite activities. My second favorite thing about Seattle is the friendliness. The people are friendly- they wave when you let their car merge into your lane, they say excuse me when they walk too close. Seattle with its natural beauty and friendliness is a place I am proud to call home!

Can you tell us about any of your own favorite books or authors?

One of my favorite writers is actually a husband & wife team that writes historical fiction. Their names are Bodie and Brocke Thoene and I believe they are actually Christian writers, but a few of their series have focused strongly on Jewish history during World War II and during the early years of Israel. The series I have read include: The Zion Chronicles, The Zion Legacy and The Zion Covenant, each with 5 or more books. These books are educational, as they are based on true events, yet they are also fun to read as they include adventure, romance and relationships that draw the reader in.

Sarah, thanks for giving us this taste of the The Olympic! We're all looking forward to staying with you.

We are so excited here at The Olympic to welcome AJL for the conference in July. We truly hope that each guest leaves with a wonderful memory of our hotel and great city!

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Dr. Joseph Janes will be the keynote speaker at the 2010 AJL Convention. An Associate Professor at the Information School of the University of Washington, he is the founding director of the Internet Public Library (www.ipl.org). He writes the "Internet Librarian" column for American Libraries magazine. As you can see in this video, he is a very interesting speaker! Take a look, then read his exclusive AJL interview below.




Dr. Janes, can you give us a sneak peak into the theme of your keynote address for AJL?

I’d love to—but I haven’t written it yet! I’ll do my best to make it interesting, at least as a preamble to the fireworks later that night.

You are the founder of the Internet Public Library, and very involved in digital life. Why is it important for librarians to participate in the online world?

Is it possible not to? It’s an ever-more digital world, as people spend more time there, more resources are born digital, and the expectation of instant access to, well, everything, approaches the universal. With only very rare and increasingly exotic specialized environments, an online presence is critical if not imperative.

Studies have shown that Seattle is the most literate city in the nation. What makes Seattle such a great place for reading and libraries? Can you give us a recommendation for any recent books you enjoyed?

You mean besides the rain and the coffee? We spend a lot of time inside, caffeinated, so we’re alert and reading fits in there beautifully. We also have great libraries in the region, of all kinds, and fantastic librarians who make it all work.

I just finished Alistair Horne’s Seven Ages of Paris, which is just the sort of popular history I enjoy, vividly and cogently written, with a vibrant feeling for the place and the people. I’ve switched gears back to an old favorite, rereading Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal (again).

The Seattle area is the home of both Amazon and Apple. What’s your preference, Kindle or iPad? Your feelings on digital books?

I don’t have either one, though when I saw the first iPad commercial I started to drool in much the same way I did when the iPod came out. The “book” obviously is undergoing a transformation in form of epochal proportions, as the physical codex coexists with emerging digital forms for some time to come. I can’t imagine the current digital versions will be the final ones, and there are lots of issues yet to be resolved about shape, size, standards, rights management, interoperability, the reading experience, and so on…but I also think that this evolution will happen really fast and will be better off with the participation and insight of librarians, on behalf of the communities we serve and represent.

What Seattle experience should visitors be sure not to miss?

So many to choose from! Pike Place Market, of course, Pioneer Square, a ride up in the Space Needle, the flagship Nordstrom’s, local coffee (try Stumptown, available at some cafes downtown)…but worth trying a few less-well-known things as well: take a ferry over to Bremerton or Bainbridge Island, worth it for the view alone, wander down 1st Street to see the marquee for the Lusty Lady before they tear it down, and of course visit the spectacular Central Library on Fifth and Spring, just a few blocks from the Fairmont. When I’m downtown, I always love to just wander around, and look up; there are some fantastic architectural features on many buildings in the area, and it’s all quite walkable (though hilly in spots); bring comfortable shoes and enjoy!

Dr. Janes, thanks for speaking with us! We're looking forward to your keynote presentation at the AJL Convention!

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Author Jennifer Poulter has won the Week #1 Mention Convention drawing! A $10 Amazon gift card is heading her way.

Winning was easy! Jennifer simply posted about the convention to Twitter (see above), and then sent a message to pr@jewishlibraries.org to let us know.

Watch for tomorrow's Convention Countdown interview with keynote speaker Dr. Joseph Janes, and tweet, Facebook, or blog about it to enter the Week #2 Mention Convention drawing!
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[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="500" caption="L-R: Toby Harris, Janet Heineck, Susan Dubin, Rita Frischer, and Pat Pawelak-Kort"][/caption]

Toby Harris is co-chair (with Janet Heineck and Rita Frischer) for the 2010 AJL Convention that will take place in Seattle, WA, July 4-7. She is the president of AJL's Northwest Chapter, and librarian at Temple De Hirsch Sinai.

Toby, what are some of the most exciting things planned for the 2010 AJL Convention? Can you give us some highlights?

There are so many sessions I’m excited about! We have a couple of off-site choices which will give some an opportunity to see a bit of Seattle and I’m very excited to show off our city! One is the Seattle Public Library, a mere two blocks from the hotel with quite dramatic architecture and bold ideas. There, we’ll get a tour and get to use their computer lab classroom. The other is a visit to Seattle Hebrew Academy, an incredibly beautiful historic building set in a Northwest forest, with an award winning library.

I am struck by the range of interesting settings our presenters work in. Hearing about challenges for the National Library of Israel and Yad Vashem, the many special collections and resources at Columbia, Yeshiva, Stanford and here at the University of Washington, along with some bookdealer perspectives and those of us building community in our synagogues and day schools. A big focus will be on examining our users, planning and making digitization and technology choices. And of course, those fabulous book critics and Sydney Taylor award-winning authors will be ever present!

Our keynote speaker, Dr. Joseph Janes, Associate Professor in the Information School of the University of Washington is supremely engaging and witty, and he’ll share his passion for reference, innovation and our digital world. He’s the founder of the Internet Public Library and writes the Technology column for American Libraries.

Those night owls who want to venture out Sunday night to watch fireworks over urban Lake Union will view a wonderful display of good ole July 4th spectaculars. And those arriving earlier on Sunday get to be there for an afternoon of music, poetry and exhibits in the elegant Spanish foyer of the hotel.

Planning the convention must be a huge job. What have been some of your best and worst experiences in getting ready for convention?

Well, it’s not over yet so I’d like to reserve that question! It definitely takes many people to pull together but I can already feel the rewards coming!

Studies have shown that Seattle is the most literate city in the nation. What makes Seattle such a great place for reading and libraries?

The gray skies might help a bit. Mainly we’re just a bunch quirky characters who love to learn and escape! We have lots of independent bookstores here which seem to be surviving just fine and we do love our incredible libraries!

Can you give us a recommendation for some of your favorite Jewish books?

Two of my favorite Jewish adult books which haven’t yet lost their standing are A Pigeon and a Boy, by Meir Shalev, and The Book Thief, by Marcus Zusak. I loved Shalev’s brilliant and meaningful story and need to read more books written by him. And one of my fondest AJL convention memories is when I got to meet charming and handsome Marcus Zusak! Aside from his charms, looks (and accent), what makes Book Thief so wonderful is its unique perspective and outsider look at the Holocaust. Another book that has stayed with me for several years is Anna in the Afterlife, by Merrill Joan Gerber, the last of her Anna Goldman series, and the best in my opinion. I can spend a lot of time gazing at the cover art on this raw and expressive book while thinking about people in my own life. Not recommended for the faint-hearted.

The Seattle area is the home of both Amazon and Apple. What’s your preference, Kindle or iPad? What are your feelings on digital books?

I still prefer the feel and look of a real book and all of its details! I do appreciate some of the features and portability of digital books and can see they have their place but I have no interest in acquiring one yet.

What Seattle experience should visitors be sure not to miss? And what’s your favorite vendor at Pike Place Market?

Besides the Market, which is a must, the Space Needle allows you to see the whole layout of the city and is quite remarkable. Seattle buses are free downtown which makes it easy to explore that area! The Ballard Locks are very impressive, especially if you like boat watching. And of course, I highly recommend one of the tour options: Seattle’s old Jewish neighborhoods led by Washington State Jewish Historical Society or Seattle’s native trees and plants in the Washington Park Arboretum.

Toby, thanks for kicking off the Convention Countdown! We can't wait to visit with you in Seattle!

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