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At the 2012 AJL Conference in Pasadena, CA, we tried, as usual, to record our sessions so that we could podcast them afterwards. We experienced extreme technical difficulties with our recordings. Most were lost; a few were saved but with the audio compromised. Of those few that were rescued, seven are now available on the AJL website, with more on the way. Please go to to find the newest AJL podcast episodes. You’ll find recordings of conference sessions on e-books, archives, digitization, and children’s books in translation.

Thanks to the volunteers who have been editing these recordings to get them ready for you, and thanks to all of you for your patience. I hope that the high quality of the content in the podcasts will make up for the poor sound quality!

Heidi Estrin
President, AJL
Posted in: Convention

Association of Jewish Libraries
48th Annual Conference
June 16-19, 2013
Houston, Texas

The Association of Jewish Libraries (AJL) will hold its 48th Annual Conference at the Hilton Houston Post Oak June 16-19th, 2013. Librarians, educators, archivists, scholars, authors and others will meet to share their interest in Judaica librarianship and related topics.

AJL is inviting proposals for papers and presentations on any aspect of Judaic librarianship or scholarship as it pertains to libraries, archives, museums, schools, synagogues and related institutions. Of special interest this coming year are topics relating to current trends and challenges in the field; management of synagogue and day school libraries; collection development; volunteer management; readers advisory; adult programming; technology, apps and e-books; 21st century library design; cataloging and classification; Sephardic subject matter and RDA.

Submissions should include:
* Presenter's name, address, affiliation, telephone numbers and email contact.
* Brief biography.
* Title of proposed presentation.
* Summary of proposal.
* Specific technology or equipment requirements, if any. 

All submissions must be received by November 30, 2102. Submissions can be sent electronically to

Proposals will be reviewed by the Program Planning Committee, which is composed of national and local AJL members. Notification will be made in January 2013.

Posted in: Convention
Live coverage of the AJL Convention in Pasadena, CA will be available via Facebook, June 17-20, 2012. AJL volunteers will be posting news, comments, and photos at

If you are a Facebook user, please click LIKE on our page - but even if you don't use Facebook, you can still read all our convention news at!

We hope you'll get a taste of the convention excitement, and perhaps we'll see you live at the 2013 convention in Houston, TX!
Posted in: Convention
Float your cursor over the image to bring up links to convention speakers, tours, and other info!
Posted in: Convention
Pasadena, California will be the host for the Association of Jewish Libraries convention from Sunday, June 17th to Wednesday, June 20th, 2012, offering four days brimming with popular speakers, stimulating roundtables, professional sessions, workshops, tours, exhibits and award banquets. The site for AJL's 47th annual convention is the landmark Langham Huntington hotel.

Sunday’s schedule includes a tour of Jewish Los Angeles. Rabbi Reuven Firestone, Professor at Hebrew Union College, examines Peoples of the Book: Jews in Qu’ran and Jews on the Qu’ran at Monday’s opening plenary session. American Library Association President Molly Raphael headlines the closing plenary on Wednesday by imagining thriving 21st Century Libraries.

Topics vary to serve many interests. Local authors and award winning illustrators review their latest publications and works in progress. Book award judges critique and debate Jewish books for adults, young adults, and picture book readers. Comic book authors and graphic novelists discuss their crafts. E-book and self-publishing hints anchor panels. Jewish genealogy offers the latest expert techniques. Learn about Jewish libraries in the Middle Ages, Israel’s modern National Library or new Jewish Public Libraries.

Diverse sessions feature Jewish culture in stories, art and Broadway and Hollywood musicals. History salutes Jews in China, Groundbreaking Women Clergy in LA and Jews in the Civil War, marking its 150th anniversary. Panel members dialog on current topics including one on mounting original documents for public display by the Huntington Library’s John Sullivan and Wiesenthal Museum of Tolerance’s Adaire Klein. Local librarians may wish to attend sessions covering digitization or cataloging or archives management.

Visitors are welcome to attend sessions which spark their curiosity or intellect. They can register with AJL online at or in person on June 17th at the AJL desk in the hotel to pay on a per diem basis or for the convention package. The conference concludes with tours to the Skirball Center, the Museum of Tolerance or Huntington Library.
Posted in: Convention
The Association of Jewish Libraries is conducting a brief survey to assess how well our conventions serve our membership. We want to hear from those who do not attend our conventions as well as from those who have attended.

We will consider these survey results in conjunction with other tools and data being used in the evaluation process. Our goals are to support the professional needs of members with innovative and less costly conventions.

Results of the survey will be shared in the summer AJL News and at the 47th Annual AJL Convention in Pasadena in June of 2012. Recommendations for any convention changes will be presented at the AJL Council meeting, to take place on June 17th in Pasadena.

You have until Thursday, May 10 to complete the Association of Jewish Libraries survey about conventions.  It should take no more than 10 minutes of your time.  Please visit the link below to participate.

Many thanks to those who have already submitted opinions!
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The Association of Jewish Libraries (AJL) will hold the 47th Annual Convention in Los Angeles, California June 17-20, 2012. Librarians, archivists, scholars, educators, authors and others will meet to share their interest in Judaica librarianship and related topics. AJL is soliciting proposals for papers and presentations on aspects of Judaica librarianship as it pertains to libraries, archives, museums, schools, synagogues and related institutions. Past topics have included literature and other resources, collection management, programming, reader advisory services, special and rare collections, cataloging and classification, digital and electronic resources, technology and local Jewish history.

Submissions should include the following:

Presenter's name, address, affiliation, telephone and email contacts.
Brief biography
Title of proposed presentation
Summary of proposal
Specific technology or equipment requirements, if any

All submissions must be received by November 30, 2011.

Please submit proposals by email to:

or by mail to:

Sharon Benamou
UCLA Library Cataloging & Metadata Center
11020 Kinross Ave. Box 957230
Los Angeles, CA 90095-7230

Proposals will be reviewed by the Program Planning Committee, which is composed of national and local AJL members. Notification will be made in January, 2012.
Did you present at the 2011 AJLConvention in Montreal? Would you like your work to be included in the published proceedings that are available on AJL's website?

Please consider sharing your paper with those who were unable to attend your session. For submission guidelines and examples from previous years go to

Thanks and looking forward to hearing from you!

Jasmin Nof
Proceedings Chair
I went the RAS meeting to hear what our various committees have been up to.  I sometimes feel a little out of it - if it doesn't involve money, I don't often have the time to keep up with the various programs and committee work we do.  As always, I was impressed at the passion that everyone brings to their work.  I'm especially eager to see what the digitization committee comes up with for gateway to the many digitization projects our libraries are dong.

At the general meeting we voted on some constitutional changes to change out budget year so that the convention is in the middle of the year, instead of the at the edge.  This will make my job (and future treasurers) much easier.

And finally at the convention wrapup meeting we went over what worked and what didn't to plan for next years.  2 themes kept coming up.  One is that much of the planning is place specific.  Different hotels, caterers, cities, have different requirements, charges, setups, etc.  The other is that we need better communication from one convention to the next. 

I know that the LA people are already working hard to to plan next years convention.  They're going to be experimenting with some different scheduling and formats.  While I'm a little disappointed that I won't be able to travel to some wonderful new place for convention, there is so much going on in LA that I'm sure it will be an exciting convention.

As always, one of the highlights was seeing people in person that I mostly know through email for facebook and being able to reconnect with colleagues from all over the world.

Thanks to the Montreal committee! and see you all next year in Los Angeles!

p.s. I was going to post a picture of me happily snoozing on my couch, but I'm just too tired ;-)
Posted in: Convention
In what has to be one of the most colorful sessions I've been to at AJL, Steven Bergson and Elliot Gertel provided feasts for the eyes as well as the mind.

Steven started us off with "Judging a Book by its Cover"  Part graphic design critique, part symbology discussion, part marketing tricks, Steven took us on a whirlwind tour of both effective and problematic covers. The covers, his comments, and a bibliography are on his blog
And, in case you were about to judge Steven by his cover - he was looking especially spiffy in a suit and comic-themed (of course) tie.

His presentation was followed by Elliot Gertel's presentation "Kalman at the Bat : a webography of Jews in Baseball"  While many people (even non-baseball followers) can name Sandy Koufax and Hank Greenberg, Elliot showed sites with information about many other Jewish baseball players throughout baseball history.

Posted in: Convention
Here are some notes and pics from Kathe Pinchuk.  We're having lots of quality time at the airport while waiting for our re-scheduled fligths.

Clever "Mirka" brought her knitting to keep herself amused, while this sad blogger/quilter forgot all her projects at home.

Jo Taylor Marshall, daughter of Sydney Taylor and sponsor the the Sydney Taylor book awards, attended the conference and shared a few stories about her mother.  She mentioned that the character Sarah in the books was based on her mother. Since it was difficult for women to get published, her mother wrote under the name "Sydney".  Jo still get letters addressed to "Mr. Taylor"

Mirka and STBA winner Barry Deutsch accept the award for older readers for his book  Hereville

The award winners, honorable mentions, Jo Taylor Marshall, and committee members.

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Monday morning started bright and very early with a session on digitization projects. Joyce Rappaport from YIVO began by walking us through the process of editing the 2 v. Encylopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe and how it grew and transformed into a website.  She spoke of the challenges that all we catalogers can relate to: standardizing the spelling of personal names; figuring how to refer to places that have changed names and national boundaries, multiple language submissions, and multiple author entries. Joyce also mentioned the lively discussions that determined the boundaries of "East Europe"  (for their purposes; east of Germany, north of the Balkins) and the time period covered.  It was very important to YIVO that this NOT be a Yizkor book, but rather a celebration of Jewish thought, life, customs, arts, biography, life cycle celebrations, political involvement and much more from medieval times to the near current day.

Transforming the paper volumes into web pages allowed them to add many more color pictures, interactive maps, multi-media, and to keep the articles current.  There is a tab for educators and researchers with lesson plans and curricula.  I was surprised and thrilled to hear that the online version is free and open to anyone.  YIVO is understandably proud that they are the first to post a major reference source online that is open access.

The next speaker was just as exciting. Rebecca  Jefferson spoke about digitizing one of the quirkier collections at the Price Library of Judaica at the University of Florida.  The collect anniversary issues of journals and newspapers and festschriften of all kinds. The show a fascinating glimpse at what the editors thought were the important milestones for the Jewish community at that time.  They also include ads and notes of congratulations from individuals, businesses, and organizations which show the make up of the community.

The last speaker of the session, Rachel Boertjens, spoke about the Bibliotheca Rosenthaliana's project to digitize the correspondance between the "Pekidim & Amarkalim," a philanthropic organization, and the individuals and yeshivot that wrote to them asking from money from the early to late 1800's.

The next session was a sort of catch-all on Israeli life and culture.  Anna Levia gave a surprisingly interesting and engaging talk about sewage.  Yes, I said sewage.  As part of a large collection on Tel Aviv that the University of Stanford acquired, was a collection of correspondence to the municipality on the subject of waste processing and removal in pre-state Palestine.  While not the most appetizing of subjects, this topic is of obvious importance to anyone studying the development of a city.

The next speaker might have started with the immortal words of Monty Python "And now for something completely different"  Daniel Scheide and  Sharon Benamou gave a whirlwind tour of Israeli hip-hop, rap, and other related genre's.  They demonstrated (by showing videos - not by singing) how rap is used by both religious and secular Israelis as well as among many of the different ethnic groups in Israel.  Some use it to show their differences while others to make a case for toleration and understanding.

Yaffa Weisman then took us in yet another direction by examining the book and television series HaSaMBaH, the Hebrew acronym for the Extreme secret Gang.  This series showed a group of Israeli teens working together to solve crimes and nab the bad guys.  The teens represented many politicals, economic, and social classes within Israel. She spoke about how the series was used to indoctrinate Israelis on the values of equality and cooperation.  The books were revived and reprinted several times and were made into tv series.  You could definitely tell who the Israeli's were in the audience by how much they were nodding in memory of the characters.
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'Cause it doesn't seem possible to do all I did or learn all I learned in just one Monday.

I'll start with last things first, since that is freshest in my mind. I just returned from an amazing Yiddish performance of the Megillah of Itzik Manger at Centre Segal. Even though I don't speak Yiddish, the lyrics appeared on a screen above the stage and the actors were so expressive that it was easy to follow.  The show was followed by a lively Klezmer performance.  The place was packed with people of every age.

Before crossing the street to Centre Segal, we spent the afternoon at the Jewish community campus.  I hear a couple of interesting talks on archives.  The first speakers  talked about combining 2 different archives into one virtual space.  The Canadian Jewish Heritage Network has lots of search options and includes some great lesson plans using their documents and photographs.

The next speaker, Zev Moses, talked about his work in progress, the Interactive Museum of Jewish Montreal. While there isn't a lot on the site, it will start to fill up in the next few weeks.

I unfortunately could stay to hear the 3rd speaker - but the first 2 talks really showed how forward thinking archives can be.
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After my post meetings snooze, I went down to the opening reception in the exhibition area.  I munched on tempting goodies and examined tempting books.  I was very happy to see several bids on my quilt.  Even though I thought I did a good job - its always a little nerve-wracking to see if anyone else agreed.

After the reception, we gathered for dinner.  I caught up with some of my HUC colleagues and met a few other librarians from around the states.

Our keynote speaker was Dr. Ruth Wisse.  She posed the question "What do we do about Yiddish?" She gave an engaging talk about the role Yiddish played and plays in Jewish life. Dr. Wise pointed out that the development of Yiddish shows 2 contradictory things.  1. Jews had close contact with the surrounding German community since and 2. Jews lived separately from the surrounding community.

Today Yiddish speakers seem to fall into 2 camps - the secular, and the ultra-religious.  This separation does a disservice to both Yiddish and to Jews.  Yiddish was the vehicle for many Jewish authors and thinkers to grapple with issues of modernity.  They struggled with many issues that we are still addressing today: G-d vs. individuality; individuality vs. peoplehood; men & women's roles; sexuality and love; Jews & politics, etc.

She also talked about how Yiddish shows the development of language and peoplehood across language and political borders.

To paraphrase the answer to her question ... ask not what you can do with Yiddish - ask what Yiddish can do for you.

Posted in: Convention
Registration went very smoothly.  As always, helpful volunteers got me checked in quickly and gave me my bag of convention goodies.

I took a sneak peak at the vendors who were putting finishing touches on their booths. Looks like lots of great deals.

Tucked in the middle of the exhibit area, is our silent auction.  Many members donated all kinds of wonderful things.  Nancy Sack coordinated this international effort.

and now for the shameless self promotion.  BID ON MY QUILT!  I made and donated this kid's quilt.  Notice the carefully chosen fabric - Jewish themes, reading themes, kid-friendly animals.  It would be perfect for your child, grandkid, kid-next-door, etc. ....

Posted in: Convention
The conference has begun!  The Board met this morning and the Council is meeting even as I type (don't tell the pres. that I'm blogging while he's talking.)

While I can't say that I love sitting in meetings (especially in windowless basement rooms), I have to say that I am always inspired by this group of people.  AJL is not anyone's day job - this is extra (unpaid) work for each of the board and council members.  It's always invigorating to spend time with people who are passionate about their work
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Lest you worry that your intrepid blogger was spending too much time in the Catholic Churches ... fear not! we also toured some Anglican ones.

This is Christ Church Cathedral.  The bright floral booth in front of it is the entrance to Montreals underground shopping network

in the back of the church was a monument to Raoul Wallenberg.

We also took a long walk through the antique district to the Atwater Market. 

We walked back along the Lachine canal.  Originally flanked by factories - most have been converted to condos.

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I grabbed a couple more librarians (Jim Rosenbloom and Fred Isaac) to walk with Noni and I to Old Montreal.

There are several blocks of a pedestrian walk

There was some wonderful creative artwork.

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I arrived in Montreal last night; just in time to have a late dinner with my friend and colleague Noni Rudavsky.

We started off this morning to explore the neighborhood.  With our sense of irony firmly in our hands, we started our explorations by taking a tour of the Mary, Queen of the World, Cathedral. This magnificent building was originally dedicated to St. James and is a 1/3 scale model of St. Peter''s in Rome.  Our very patient and informative guide explained all the mysterious to us Catholic imagery and icons.

After church, we randomly picked a street to walk along.  We saw some great street art and a wonderful exhibit by the McCord museum.  The showed beautiful historical photographs and then "Pieces of Pictures" a detail of the photo that somehow exemplified or changed the story of the photo.

This inspired us to find the museum itself.  The McCord show a great glimpse of early life in the region through photo''s, clothing, and sports equipment.

We were also impressed with the many "rent a bike" stations that we saw.
Posted in: Convention
Hi all,

I'm excited to once again blog at the AJL convention.  And I can't wait to explore Montreal.   I've never been to that corner of the continent.

  I'm one of Librarians on the Jack Skirball campus (Los Angeles) of the Hebrew Union College.  Besides the typical tasks of cataloging, reference, bibliographic instruction, clearing the copy machine, and pointing the way to the bathroom, I'm the library webmaster.  I love trying out new technological toys and at the moment, I'm playing with all the buttons and crap settings on this "new to me" blog.

When I'm not at the library, I'm home quilting, gardening, or fighting with my 2 teenagers.

Posted in: Convention

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