Find us on: Bookmark and Share


The first The Whole Megillah Seminar on Jewish Story, co-sponsored by the Association of Jewish Libraries, is planned for Sunday, May 18, 2014 at Temple Emanu-El in New York City, and you are invited! The full-day event features several panels:


  • Peninnah Schram, Storyteller, Professor of Speech and Drama, Yeshiva University’s Stern College
  • Samuel Norich, Publisher, The Jewish Daily Forward

Children’s books:

  • Deborah Heiligman, author of Intentions, winner of the 2013 Sydney Taylor Book Award for Teen Readers
  • Susan Lynn Meyer, author of Black Radishes, a 2011 Sydney Taylor Honor recipient for Older Readers
  • Rebecca Short, Assistant Editor, Delacorte Press/Random House
  • April Halprin Wayland, author of New Year at the Pier, a 2010 Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner for Younger Readers.


  • Ellen Cassedy, author of We Are Here, winner of the Grub Street National Book Prize for Nonfiction
  • Joy Ladin, author of Through The Door of Life: A Jewish Journey Between the Genders, 2012 National Jewish Book Award finalist
  • Nancy K. Miller, author of What They Saved: Pieces of a Jewish Past and other memoirs
  • Tahneer Oksman, Jewish women in comics


  • Michal Mahgerefteh, Editor, Poetica Magazine
  • Joy Ladin
  • Elana Bell, author of Eyes, Stones, winner of the 2011 Walt Whitman Award


Special Features:

On Monday, May 19, interested attendees are welcome to visit the Jewish Museum for special events:

  • A special docent-led tour of the museum
  • A hands-on writing session, inspired by the museum’s art

An extra $35 fee applies.

Cost of Seminar: $125, includes kosher lunch - temporarily reduced to $99!

For more information and to register, please contact barbarakrasner(at)att(dot)net

How many people visit the library in a single day?

How many books does the library have?

How many books circulate per day?


Help answer these questions for patrons by participating in AJL's Library Snapshot Day!

Library Snapshot Day is a collaborative and creative project that captures the diversity of our library services and informs patrons about our hard work and programming throughout libraries in synagogues, community centers, day schools, universities and other institutions. The final project will not only feature our facilities, but inform the public about our year-round resources and commitment.


This is a unique advocacy tool that will display the impact of our Judaic libraries through a combination of library snapshots and AJL library statistics. During Hanukkah, we will publicize the photographs and stats on our blog, Facebook page, Twitter, through press releases, and via ALA. This powerful portrait will show patrons the gift they have given to themselves: the library!


How to participate:

1) Email me, AJL PR Chair Danielle Winter, at to let me know of your interest. (I'd like to have a rough estimate of how many libraries plan to participate in the project).

2) Pick a single day between November 1st-14th, 2012 and record for that day only:
a) how many books circulated, being borrowed and returned (in-house materials may be included.)
b) how many people stepped through the door.
c) how many reference questions were answered.
d) how many volumes of books the library owns.
e) how many programs were happening in the library that day (reading groups, book clubs, etc.)

3) Take some pictures of patrons engaging in the library, but you must ask permission from the patron first. The photographs may be displayed in the final presentation online.

4) Have five of your regular patrons write (or type) a brief comment about why they love their library.

5) Email the statistics, photographs and patron responses (results from step #2-4) to me at by November 15, 2012.


I encourage you to participate within all elements of the project, but if that is not possible, any information you can share about your “Day in the Life” of your library will contribute greatly to AJL’s Library Snapshot Day. In 2010, 30 libraries participated and it would be great to see many more represented!

I look forward to your participation. If you have questions or comments about this project, do not hesitate to contact me!

Posted in: Events
January is National Mentoring Month

By Stephanie (Sara Leah) Gross (revised)

I just returned from an innervating session with 40 council members at the annual mid-winter conference.  Of course, there were the usual deliberations about  budget, convention expenditures and ratifications of past minutes. However, there were some much-awaited proposals for innovations to increase our membership as well as make AJL a more-valuable resource to its members.

  • Michelle Chesner, RAS Secretary, pushed for more inclusion of library science students, including possible free membership for them.  She related how her internship at NYU’s dual-master’s program with a qualified mentor shaped her future in the profession.  I have long been involved with library students, from my early days in the New York Library Club, and most recently with my own networking group (NY Librarians Meetup Group).  Now, I was finally hearing multiple voices who wished to propel this idea into action.  Although still in its infancy, I was given to understand that there will be collaboration among at least a few committees:  the Task Force, RAS, SSC and Mentoring.

  • Professional development and continuing education: To be honest, such collaboration  will be a challenge for our organization, where many members have been out of library school for considerable time.  Not to worry, there are great plans for professional development and continuing education, including podcasts, webinars and wikis. I requested that any members who had a desire to include mentorship in their work contact me so that we may get down to business as soon as possible.

  • Internships and grants: Michelle also described possible initiatives concerning student internships as well as IMLS (Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) grants.  The former will certainly help draw new members as well as the much needed “fresh blood”  to maintain our momentum.

  • We were given a preview of the new web site which is scheduled for its roll-out in February. In addition to being able to edit our committee pages more easily than in the past, committee chairs may be able to set up their profiles, included headshots and social media links.  For those interested in networking and establishing appropriate visibility, these improvements will be a boon, especially to our new members.

  • I hope to sponsor a Mentor Mingle at the Montreal convention, but must remind all chapters and divisions that mentoring is a processes that is mutually beneficial to those involved, from the individuals to the association itself.  It is a perk of membership that is at times under-used, and we must be vigilant that we do not lose sight of our mission as educators to share, support and encourage newcomers to our group and to our organization.

  • As Chair of the Mentoring Committee, I’m hoping that my committee will be more effective to members in “far-flung” corners of the world where access to Judaica librarians is challenging.  I hope to use my space on the web for telecommunication, such as Skype, Instant Messaging, and perhaps even group events on social media such as Facebook or Second Life.  If there are individuals out there who would like to be included in this initiative, please contact me at  Until that time, do make a point of visiting my page on the AJL wiki dedicated to social media for librarians.  Look it over and please send me feed-back. We will all benefit from that.

New Book on Mentoring: Now, onto a special “shout-out” for a new book on mentoring by  ALA.  The title is aptly, Mentoring in the Library:   Building for the Future by Marta K. Lee. I must say that it certainly met my expectations from the first peek at the Introduction.  I  learned of this book through an ALA newsletter alert on new publications and immediately purchased it online (ISBN 9780838935934 ; $50.)  It arrived in the mail just today, and I thought “How marvelous! Just in time for my blog post!  The book itself is a mere 122 pages, replete with chapters devoted to enumerating the kind of skills a mentor should have, with techniques for successful development, education and training.  Also included are guidelines for establishing formal and informal mentoring arrangements, with a chapter devoted to mentoring librarians electronically.  The book flap boasts “In this useful book, Lee shows librarians how mentoring can be both personally satisfying and a path to career development.”  Besides the requisite bibliography and index, this handbook includes appendices with forms for requests, proposals, and promotion review timetable .  Of interest, too, are the case studies from two academic institutions.  However, both volunteers and school librarians are given space, so those who are not planning mentorship in RAS will still wish to give this volume and careful read.  Finally, the book jacket suggests other related titles, such as Coaching in the Library:  A management Strategy for achieving excellence 2nd ed. By Ruth F. Metz and Succession planning in the library:  Developing leaders, managing change by Paul M Singer with Gail Griffith.  These books may be order at or 866.746.7252!

Happy Mentoring! Remember to send your stories, lessons learned, and feedback to be shared with others.  Look for me, too, on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.  I often post to AJL, but have my own Twitter account (NYLibrarians).  Other contact information:  ajlmentoring AT gmail.comSkype: Stephanie.L.Gross.  Best of luck to you all in 2011!  I plan to be at the convention in June, so do send me ideas for sessions or general ideas for PR and outreach.  You need not be a library student, and librarians in transition as well as newly-minted librarians are warmly encouraged to become involved.
Tomorrow, Wednesday January 12 will find AJL- and hopefully you- participating in its second Facebook Friday live chat on Facebook.

The details:

Who: Daniel Stuhlman, blogger and AJL librarian

Where: AJL's Facebook page here.

When: Wednesday, January 12 at 11amCST/12pmEST

What: A live Q&A chat on library marketing.

You must "like" AJL on Facebook in order to participate. To ask questions, just use the "Status Update" tool.

You can find a full transcript of last week's Facebook Friday chat with Ann Abrams of Temple Israel, Boston, here. Ann answered questions on running a synagogue library.

Want more Facebook Friday? Want to be a guest host? Email Marie Cloutier at mcloutier at by the end of January.
During the month of January 2011, AJL will be presenting three programs in a new initiative called Facebook Fridays.

The complete schedule is still under construction but we have our first program lined up on Friday, January 7, with librarian Ann Abrams of Boston's Temple Israel.

Ann will answer questions for an hour starting at noon EST on the subject of running a small synagogue library. She has been the librarian at Temple Israel for a number of years and has a lot of expertise on this important subject.

Here are the details:

What: How to run a small synagogue library.

Who: Ann Abrams, librarian at Temple Israel, Boston.

When: Friday, January 7, 2011 at 12:00 noon EST.

Where: Log on to You must "like" the Association of Jewish Libraries to participate. (This link will take you to the AJL Facebook page.)

How: Ask questions by posting a status update (click on the Status button).

We have two other programs coming up in January- watch this space for details!

This year, AJL will participate in Library Snapshot Day, an ALA library advocacy initiative.

It's easy and fun to participate and we want your library to be part of it!

Here's all you have to do:

1. Pick a single day during the week of November 1 - 7, 2010 (Monday through Sunday) for your Library Snapshot Day. During your chosen day, you will keep a head count of the number of people who visit your library.

You may wish to plan a program that will bring in lots of people, but you are welcome to record a "typical" day in your library if you choose. Sunday November 7, 2010 is also the Global Day of Jewish Learning; if you are planning an activity tied to that event you are welcome to double dip and use it for Library Snapshot Day too. If you are already planning a crowd-pleasing event for the following week, you may choose to use that date for your Library Snapshot Day, as long as you can send in your results by the deadline, November 17, 2010.

2. Along with your head count, please collect comments from visitors about how wonderful your library is (written, audio, videotape, whatever works for you), and please take photographs. Pictures, pictures, pictures!

3. By Wednesday, November 17, 2010, send your head count, your comments, and your pictures to Please be sure to include your name, your library name and address, and the type of library it is (synagogue, day school, community center, academic, special, other).

The results will be publicized during the first week of December, which coincides with Hanukkah. Our theme will be "Your Jewish library - a gift to your community!" Feel free to use the results of Library Snapshot Day as an advocacy tool within your own community to show the value of Jewish libraries in general and your library in particular. We anticipate publicizing our results through ALA, via the AJL website/blog/Facebook page/Twitter, via Hasafran and by e-newsletter to nonmembers, and through a press release to the media. AJL will also provide a fill-in-the-blanks press release that you can adapt to your library and use with your local media.

Posted by Marie.

UPDATE: When taking photos of patrons, please make sure that they have given permission for their pictures to be used by AJL. AJL will use selected photos on our website/blog or in our newsletter.
Posted in: Events, ALA
It's Banned Books Week this week, September 25-October 2. Banned Books Week is the American Library Association's annual spotlight on books that have been challenged or banned from libraries all over the United States.

You can click here for ALA's main Banned Books Week page, including free downloads and other resources.

Does your library have a policy in place to deal with challenges? What happens in your library when a patron says a book should be removed, or that access should be limited? Have you ever had to remove a book or move it to another section because a patron complained?

The State of Oregon compiled this useful page of resources and tips for dealing with challenges.

The National Coalition Against Censorship offers the Book Censorship Toolkit.

Last year 460 challenges were reported to ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom. See the 2009 Top 10 List here.

Leave a comment with your thoughts on this important issue!

Posted by Marie.
Posted in: Events, ALA
This news item came to our attention thanks to Ya'akov Aronson.

Spring Study Day

Forty librarians from all over the country gathered at the National Library of Israel on 28 April to participate in the Spring Study Day of the Judaica Librarians' Group.  The event took place in the newly renovated lecture hall of the National Library's Music and Sound Archives Collection.

At a brief business meeting held before the lectures Haim Levi of the Hebrew Cataloging Department of the National Library of Israel (NLI) was chosen to serve as Chairman of the group.  The existing Steering
Committee of six members from five institutions will continue to assist the new Chairman.  It was also decided to hold the study days semiannually.

Opening the program was Gil Weissblei, Director of the Chaim Hazaz archive at NLI.  He talked about the ethical dilemma confronting an archivist when having to deal with an archive whose owner requested that all his papers be destroyed but his executor decided that the material was of such importance that it should be preserved.  Examples were drawn from the conflicts that arose concerning the archives of Chaim Hazaz and Franz Kafka.

Arnon Hershkovitz, Founder of the Internet Forum Family Roots, discussed resources for genealogical research available on the Internet as well in printed format.

Project Europeana Judaica, a part of the larger Europeana project to create a multi-lingual online collection of millions of digitized items from European museums, libraries, and archives, was described
by the Director of the Israeli section of the project, Dov Weiner. The Israel National Library has recently joined the project and will provide important items for the collection.

Closing the day Dr. Gila Flam, Director of the National Library's Music and Sound Archives Collection, discussed the unique challenges encountered in digitizing a music collection of over 30,000 hours recorded in many different formats over more than half a century.

Got an event or group you'd like us to know about? Send an email to mcloutier at Thanks!
Posted in: Events
Today we have for you an interview with Elana MacGilpin, one of the organizers of the Mandell JCC Jewish Book Fest, an event made up of several book events,  that takes place every year in Hartford, CT.

1.Tell us a little about the Mandell JCC. How many members do you have? What other kinds of activities do you sponsor?

The Mandell JCC is a community of people of all ages, stages and beliefs who share laughter, learning, listening, and leading.  Members are part of a "neighborhood" where minds grow more active, bodies grow stronger, and friendships grow exponentially. On the main campus in West Hartford, CT you will find a range of fitness, recreation, education and cultural
facilities including a new fitness center, a cultural center, a preschool, an aquatics center, a theater, a family room, an art gallery, a lecture hall and a physical therapy center.  Off campus, the Mandell JCC includes two seasonal recreation/educational facilities - a waterfront summer camp in the woods and a suburban swim and tennis club - and two satellite preschools.   The Mandell JCC is a Jewish community open to everyone regardless of faith, who value caring for and sharing with each other.  It is a place that is warm and inclusive and we have 2720 membership units or about 7200 members.
2. Tell me a little bit about the Mandell JCC's Jewish Book Festival.
When is it held? What kind of speakers or authors did you have? How many
people attended?

The Mandell JCC Jewish Book Festival is a year-round series of four Signature Events that usually take place in November, January, March and May.  We also sponsor a program called Authors on the Road where we partner with synagogues, Jewish agencies and schools to host authors outside of the JCC - this is year round as well and add about 8-10 events per year.  We switched to this format in the 2007-2008 series and have hosted Carl Bernstein, Jodi Picoult, Dennis Ross, Martin Fletcher, Jennifer Weiner, Michael Chabon, to name a few.  We host authors who are Jewish or who aren't Jewish themselves but write on a Jewish topic.  The celebrity/marquee authors that we have featured has really heightened the profile of the Festival and we have welcomed over 2000 participants a year.
3. I noticed on your website that rather than having one continuous
event, for a week let's say, the Mandell JCC breaks it up over several
months. Why? What advantages does this approach present?

[caption id="attachment_161" align="alignleft" width="200" caption="Author Jennifer Weiner"][/caption]

We worked with the traditional Festival model for 14 years and decided that in order to give it some fresh ideas and a fresh perspective having four major events throughout the year with authors who are household names would accomplish this.  It gives us the opportunity to provide something for everyone on a schedule that fits better for our audience members who lead busy lives.  With the traditional model if you happen to be on vacation for that week, or have other family or work commitments, you lose the opportunity to participate - with the year round model if you miss one event, you can still be present for the rest.  We sell tickets to individual events as well as for the series.
4. What were the highlights from the

[caption id="attachment_160" align="alignright" width="240" caption="Author Mitch Albom"][/caption]

2009-2010 season? What was your most well-attended event? What kinds of feedback do you get from the community?

Our kick off event featured NY Times Bestselling Author Alice Hoffman in  conversation with RJ Julia Owner and West Hartford native Roxanne Coady.

Our festival established a new partnership with RJ Julia this year and are so thrilled to be working with them.  Our most well attended event of the year happened on November 5 with Mitch Albom. His newest book, Have A Little Faith, was #1 on the New York Times Bestseller list when he spoke in West Hartford which was such a thrill - we had 650 people in the JCC that night and had to move the event from our theater which seats 400 to our gymnasium!  In January we hosted Rabbi Joseph Telushkin whose new book - The Code of Jewish Ethics: Love Your Neighbor as Yourself - was presented. This event happened on the heels of the devastation in Haiti and the theme of Rabbi Telushkin's talk really resonated with participants. Our final event was on April 13 with Oprah favorite Chris Bohjalian. His book Skeletons at the Feast is based on a real life diary about a young woman in Germany at the end of World War II and pulled in characters who were fighting for their lives during the Holocaust.  This event was held just after Yom Hashoah so it was very meaningful.

[caption id="attachment_163" align="aligncenter" width="451" caption="Rabbi Telushkin with festival organizers"] [/caption]

5. How is the festival supported? Who organizes it? Does the Festival
have paid staff and/or volunteers?

The Festival is supported by corporate and community sponsors who have been very generous over the years.  The Mandell JCC is the overall organizing body and I serve as the Director.  I work with an outstanding volunteer committee comprised of JCC members and community members who are passionate about literature and Jewish culture.  This amazing team spends countless hours throughout the year, working on every details to ensure that our participants have an enlightening experience with our featured authors.

[caption id="attachment_165" align="aligncenter" width="451" caption="Festival organizers schmooze with author Michael Chabon."] [/caption]

6. What do you have coming up for the 2010-2011 season?

We are in the planning stages for the 2010-2011 season so we don't haveanything to announce just yet.  Myself and three members of our steering committee are attending the Jewish Book Council conference in New York City where we will hear from over 200 authors.  We have our wish list as well and will announce our season mid-summer.  We will also be launching a new book club initiative with an event in October where Roxanne Coady from RJ Julia will come talk to book club members, give them tips on how to run a successful book club, talk about her favorite book club picks and will give the participants an opportunity to shop for books as well. It is going to be our 18th season so we will surely be planning something special.

7. What tips or do's and don't's would you offer to JCCs or small organizations looking to put on their own book festival?

In my experience, working with a volunteer committee who is as committed and dedicated as the staff is so important.  Authors come and go but engaging your members and the community can lead to years of success. Certainly knowing your community is also key - like if your community only likes household names or has interests in specific themes.  Being a member of the Jewish Book Council is also a great way to expand your access to and repertoire of Jewish literature and authors as well make connections to staff at JCCs and organizations who run their own Jewish Book Festivals.  Their website is

[caption id="attachment_182" align="aligncenter" width="601" caption="The Committee"][/caption]

Elana, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to AJL and share your successes. Mazel tov and best of luck for the future! I hope you keep us posted about your activities!

If you have an event you'd like to see covered on the blog, email me at mcloutier at and we'll talk about how to make that happen!
Posted in: Events, Interview
Did you know that May is National Jewish American Heritage Month?

What are you doing? Does your library or shul have any special activities planned? Speakers? Festivals? Book fairs? We want to know!

Send me your links or summaries to mcloutier at; I want to compile a link roundup or even some guest posts as the month progresses.

If you need some ideas, or just want to see what's going on elsewhere, you can take a look at the official site as well as the site prepared by The Library of Congress.

If you attend any of these events, or those not listed here, I would love to hear from you and offer you the opportunity to do a guest post for the AJL blog. Email me (mcloutier at with your ideas!
Posted in: Events
Sunday, April 18, 2010, the 7th annual Western Regional Conference on Jewish Literature took place in Los Angeles. This year, the conference, cosponsored by AJLSC, SInai Temple Blumenthal Library, and American Jewish University, piggy-backed on the Skirball Cultural Center's exhibit, "Monsters and Miracles-- a Journey through Jewish Picture Book Art."   With about 70 participants, the conference brought together Judaic and non-Judaic librarians, teachers, authors and illustrators as they all joined in their appreciation of the art of illustration in children's books. Panelists Richard Michelson (Sydney Taylor Award winning author and gallery owner Eugene Yelchin (illustrator and member of the Jewish Artists Initiative), and Joni Sussman (publisher of KarBen Books) shared their views on putting picture books together. Joni also read manuscripts of hopeful authors and gave advice on how to ready these manuscripts for publication. A silent auction  and book sale allowed conference attendees to bid and purchase some picture book art for themselves. The highlight of the program was a talk by exhibit curator, Tal Gozani, and visit to the exhibit at the Skirball. Everyone left asking when the next conference will be!
Posted in: Events


AJL Western Regional Conference on Jewish Literature for


Monsters and Miracles:

A Journey Through Jewish Picture Books

at the Skirball Cultural Center!


Celebrating the historical and cultural roots of the Jewish picture book with more than 100 original illustrations and texts from picture book classics and popular favorites. Featured authors and artists include Arnold Lobel, Daniel Pinkwater, Francine Prose, Maurice Sendak, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Lemony Snicket, Art Spiegelman, William Steig, Marc Chagall, and Ze'ev Raban.


 Conference Schedule:

  9 AM Registration. continental breakfast and introduction to the exhibit by curator Tal Gozani

10 AM Visit the exhibit

12 PM  Lunch at American Jewish University, 15600 Mulholland Dr.

(across the freeway from the Skirball)

1:15 PM Panel discussion with featured speakers and silent auction

2:45 PM Book sale and autographing by local authors; Tour of Ostrow Community Library



Featured speakers: Joni Sussman (publisher, KarBen Books), Richard Michelson, (Sydney Taylor Award Winner for As Good As Anybody), and

Eugene Yelchin, (illustrator and member of Jewish Artists Initiative)

e Manuscript consultations with Joni Sussman from KarBen Books available e


Sponsored by Sinai Temple Blumenthal Library, Association of Jewish Libraries, AJLSC,

and the Ostrow Community Library at the American Jewish University




For reservations and information call Susan Dubin at (818) 886-6415, send email to Lisa Silverman at  or return this to the address below:


Name___________________ Address_____________________________City/State/Zip_______________

Phone ___________________ Email___________________________ Institution____________________


______ $55 (includes lunch)    ______ AJL member $45 (includes lunch)      ____ $45 Manuscript consult  


Make check payable to Sinai Temple Blumenthal Library

Mail to:

Jewish Literature for Children Conference

Sinai Temple Blumenthal Library          

   10400 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90024

Contact us for information regarding student or group discounts.



Klez4Kids: The Kugel Valley Klezmer Band
Saturday, March 6, 2010 at 3PM

Florida Atlantic University's Wimberley Library, 5th Floor
Tickets $9/Adult
Free tickets for kids under 12

Buy tickets and see the whole festival schedule at

Fun for the whole family! Klez4Kidz features a dramatic reading, live music and projected illustrations from the critically-acclaimed children's book, The Kugel Valley Klezmer Band by Joan Betty Stuchner ( A little girl named Shira loves the fiddle, but is she good enough to play with her papa's band? Join narrator Riva Ginsburg and members of Klezmer Company Orchestra ( as they bring the charming story to life. Bring your blankets to sit on the floor, and get ready to dance to the musical interludes!

This is the second year that the local AJL chapter has helped FAU to plan a children's literary/klezmer event for their Jewish Kultur Festival. In 2009, the Klezmer Company Orchestra brought to life the book Mendel's Accordian by Heidi Smith Hyde. This year's performance, at a new, more convenient time, promises to be even better!

This event is co-sponsored by the South Florida Association of Jewish Libraries,

Now that the fall holidays are over, we have a lot to do! I hope that everyone had a happy Sukkot and a sweet and meaningful Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur. Since this week we read B'resheet, it is appropriate to begin on our new tasks.

Several of our committees need help --

Mentoring needs volunteers to help organize the mentor program as well as to be mentors. If you would like to find a mentor to help with a new job, different responsibilities, or some as pect of librarianship, contact Stephanie (Sara Leah) Gross. The information is on the AJL web page.

Accreditation Committee is looking for a co-chair who lives in the New York City area. Michal is the Chai and she can use some help with some of the tasks. If you would like to be considered for co-chair, contact AJL President Susan Dubin. If you would like to serve on the committee, contact Michal.

All the AJL committees are open to participation by our members. Look at the AJL web page to see which committee you would like to work with. We welcome your participation and help!

Our new Technology Committee is working with our Professional Development and Continuing Education Committee to prepare a webinar on using wikis. The webinar will be free to our members. We are asking all Committee Chairs and Co-Chairs to sign up for the webinar . We would like to encourage our committees to use wikis to facilitate communication between members. It is an easy way to stay in touch over the miles and ime differences! Watch for information on the webinar on HaSafran and through this blog.

Many thanks to our hard-working PR CHair, Heidi, who has mounted several of our convention podcasts on the website. Take advantage of this opportunity to share in the tremendous amount of learning that takes place at our conventions. It is one of the many reasons to be an AJL member!

Our Newsletter just arrived at my house on Saturday. (California is a little slow.) What a fabulous resource. I found at least 15 new books we need to buy for our library. The articles were outstanding and I love the new column about Israeli authors! Great job Libby, Nancy, and review editors!

Watch this space for more AJL news and thoughts...


Susan Dubin

AJL President


Association of Jewish Libraries Serves Up Authors at Sheraton Chicago on July 7


(Chicago – May 20, 2009) Teachers, librarians, educators and booklovers are invited to attend a gala Jewish Author Luncheon on Tuesday, July 7, 2009 at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers at 12:00 noon. The event will feature over thirty-five authors and illustrators who create books for adults and children. A book signing and reception will follow the luncheon, which is being held in conjunction with the annual Association of Jewish Libraries (AJL) national convention.


During the luncheon and reception, authors and illustrators will circulate among the attendees to highlight their works, ranging from children’s picture books, adult fiction and non-fiction, poetry, and short stories to cookbooks and scholarly works.  Several of these authors will also present sessions during the AJL convention.  On Monday, July 6, Esme Codell (Vive La Paris, Hanukkah Shmanukkah), Ilene Cooper (Sam I Am, Jewish Holidays All Year Round), Brenda Ferber (Jemma Hartman, Camper Extraordinaire, Julia's Kitchen), and Esther Hershenhorn (Chicken Soup By Heart) will explore “Writing the Jewish Children’s Book” and Simone Elkeles (Perfect Chemistry, How to Ruin My Teenage Life) will discuss “Bat Mitzvah & Beyond: Jewish Girls Coming of Age in Fiction.”  On Tuesday, July 7, Peter Ascoli will speak about his book about his grandfather, Julius Rosenwald: The Man Who Built Sears, Roebuck and Advanced the Cause of Black Education in the American South. 


Local authors will be joined by authors and illustrators from across the United States and Israel.  Richard Michelson (Northampton, Massachusetts) and Raul Colon (New City, New York), author and illustrator of As Good As Anybody: Martin Luther King, Jr. and Abraham Joshua Heschel’s Amazing March Toward Freedom, the 2009 Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner for Younger Reader, Aranka Siegal (Williams Island, Florida), author of Memories of Babi, the 2009 Sydney Taylor Honor Award Winner for Older Readers, and Anna Levine (Jerusalem, Israel), author of Freefall, the 2009 Sydney Taylor Honor Award Winner for Teen Readers, will all present during sessions on Tuesday, July 7 and will also be recognized during the awards banquet on Tuesday evening.  Pearl Sofaer (San Francisco, California), author of Baghdad to Bombay: In the Kitchens of My Cousins, will speak about the gems of Mizrahi liturgy on Monday, July 6.


“The AJL convention will draw over 200 Judaica librarians from synagogues, day schools, community centers, seminaries, universities, and research institutions from across North America and around the world,” explains Rachel Kamin, a member of the local planning committee and chair of the Jewish Author Luncheon. “We want to showcase and celebrate the wealth of Jewish literary talent in the metropolitan Chicago community during the convention.”


Tickets for the Jewish Author Luncheon and Reception are available for $75.00 and include an elegant kosher meal and delicious dessert reception.  Copies of the participating authors’ works will be available for sale.  To purchase tickets, or for more information about the Association of Jewish Libraries and its Chicago convention, contact Marcie Eskin at or (847) 676-1480, or visit


For more information, contact:

Rachel Kamin, Planning Committee

Association of Jewish Libraries Annual Convention

(847) 432-8903 x242

Posted in: Events
At the Midwinter meeting of the Board and Council of the Association of Jewish Libraries held in New York January 11 and 12, we voted to support the Convention with national funds so that the registration fee could be held at last year's price of $450 even though actual costs will be somewhat higher this year. The hotel rate will be $159 per night which is much cheaper than the ALA rates the following week. In addition to subsidizing the registration fee, we also our Convention subsidy budget to $30,000 to provide funds for those who need them. Forms for convention subsidies will be online very soon. If you need funding to get to the Convention this year, please be sure to apply!

Besides increasing budget lines to help our members, the Council voted to establish an advocacy award for the decision makers in institutions who support their library programs. A new committee will work on the details and present them at the annual meeting at Convention. It is our hope that recognizing those who support libraries will encourage more support.

Two regional conferences are planned for February -- 

 Western Regional Children's Literature Conference on using Holocaust literature will be held at the Simon Wiesenthal Center Museum of Tolerance on February 1st. Contact Lisa Silverman at for information.

Northwest Regional Conference "Teaching Values Through Children's Literature" will take place on February 15 in Seattle. Contact Tessa Bennion at for more information.

Ten AJL members will be presenting as part of two panels at the World Jewish Congress this August. We also are planning a joint program with ALA this summer. If you are planning to present at any upcoming conferences, please list AJL as one of your organizations. It is great PR!

The Blog tour with Sydney Taylor Award winners is underway. Congratulations to all the award winners and thanks to those hosting them on their blogs. The schedule is below:
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Karen Hesse, author of Brooklyn Bridge
Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Older Readers Category
at Jewish Books for Children

Monday, January 19, 2009
Richard Michelson
Author of As Good As Anybody, Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Younger Readers Category
Author of A is for Abraham, Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Younger Readers Category
at The Well-Read Child

Monday, January 19, 2009
Ron Mazellan, illustrator of A is for Abraham
Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Younger Readers Category
at Tales from the Rushmore Kid

Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Jane Yolen, author of Naming Liberty
Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Younger Readers Category
at The Boston Bibliophile
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Anna Levine
Author of Freefall, Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Teen Readers Category
Author of Jodie’s Hanukkah Dig, Notable Book in the Younger Readers Category
Abby (the) Librarian

Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Jim Burke, illustrator of Naming Liberty
Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Younger Readers Category
at The Page Flipper

Thursday, January 22, 2009
Jacqueline Jules, author of Sarah Laughs
Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Younger Readers Category
at Chicken Spaghetti

Friday, January 23, 2009
Deborah Bodin Cohen, author of Engineer Ari and the Rosh Hashanah Ride
Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Younger Readers Category
at Becky’s Book Reviews

Friday, January 23, 2009
Shahar Kober , illustrator of Engineer Ari and the Rosh Hashanah Ride
Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Younger Readers Category
at Into the Wardrobe
Please be sure to visit these blogs on and after these dates to read interviews with these amazing authors and illustrators.

Two new AJL publications are available on Amazon and Createspace -- Creating a Collection by Merrily Hart and Jewish Classics for Kids by Linda Silver.

The Accreditation Committee is designing a logo that accredited libraries can post on their websites. In addition, a committee is exploring the idea of offering Judaic Librarian certification through online courses at teh University of Maryland.

JTN, Jewish Television Network, is providing AJL a link to their programming so that AJL members can access author interviews and other programs of interest. The reader will be on a page that can be accessed through the AJL web page.

A full report of the business transacted at Midwinter will be in the next AJL Newsletter. Please read it and share your thoughts!


Susan Dubin

AJL President
Posted in: Events
The Chicago Convention Committee has arranged for Mrs. Barbara Schneider-Kempf, the Director General of the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin - Preuischer Kulturbesitz (Berlin State Library- Prussian Cultural Heritage), to address the AJL membership about an ongoing project of the Berlin Library to identify and find the owners of many books that were taken from Jewish homes and libraries during the Holocaust. According to an article in Der Welt that was cited by AJL Past-President Phil Miller, the Berlin Library holds up to as many as 150,000 books suspected of being stolen from Jewish owners and others persecuted by the Nazis. The Library has identified some of the former owners and returned books that were taken from Arthur Rubinstein and Leo Baeck to their legacies. Mrs, Schneider-Kempf will speak about the project to identify the books and their owners and tell AJL members how they can help as librarians.

The AJL Convention will be held in Chicago, July 5-8, 2009, at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers. It is an event open to all 1100 AJL members and others interested in Judaica Librarianship. See the Association of Jewish Libraries web page for more information.
Posted in: Events