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The Israel branch of AJL, formally called Judaica Librarians' Group (Israel), issues a publication entitled Alon from time to time. The publication gives librarians an opportunity to describe briefly some interesting item they have come across in the course of their work. Articles are accepted in all languages and should be directed to the publication's editor, Rabbi Avishai Elboim, Director of the Rambam Library in Tel Aviv (rambaml1 at gmail dot com).

All the issues of the Alon are available at So far only articles in Hebrew have been submitted but articles in any other language are welcome. A notice that a new issue has been posted to the Internet is sent to a couple of hundred Israeli librarians who are registered with the Judaica Librarians' Group. The audience is librarians working in the field of Judaica. Anyone can subscribe, just like anyone can subscribe to AJL's listserv, haSafran.  On the left hand side of the webpage, toward the bottom, is a link to the signup form.

We look forward to receiving your articles!
Posted in: Call For Papers
SOARING SOCIAL SKILLS THIS SUMMER with NATE and DARIM ONLINE, a 6-part webinar for Jewish organizations and educators on social media, begins today! The first session, "Congregational Education in a Networked World: Aligning Goals & Strategy," runs 1-2pm Eastern / 10-11am Pacific time on July 5. Sessions will be held weekly through August 9, 2011. Sessions will be recorded so that participants can view them at a later time. Registration for the entire series is $150.

Register at

Inspired after the great conference in Montreal? Disappointed that you didn’t have a chance to go? Want to get more involved in AJL? AJL Reviews is looking for new reviewers (or former reviewers who haven't participated in a while) for the adult reviews section. If you are interested, please send a brief writing sample to Merrily Hart (merrilyhart at gmail dot com) We are looking forward to hearing from you and working with you.
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
Gut Shabbos everyone! Here are this week's bookmarkable links:

I am loading all of the PowerPoint presentations into Slideshare. So far I've only received 2 (!) but any that I receive (please send to will be accessible in a single location here:

The following links are culled from this year's AJL 2011 presentations. More to come next week!

The Joe Fishstein Collection of Yiddish Poetry, housed in the Division of Rare Books and Special Collections at McLennan Library, McGill University, is considered to be one of the finest private collections of its kind in the world. It consists of some 2300 Yiddish works, mostly poetry, and includes many rare volumes, most of which have been preserved in vintage condition:

McGill University will print a book for you on demand even if you aren't affiliated with the college. Check out their one of a kind digitization lab here:

Judaica Europeana works to identify content documenting the Jewish presence and heritage in the cities of Europe. It will digitise 10,500 photos, 1,500 postcards and 7,150 recordings as well as several million pages from books, newspapers, archives and press clippings. The digitised content will be available at    

Digital Catalogs at Bibliotheca Rosenthalia  contains thousands of documents of digitized Judaica, searchable in English:

Posted in: Link Round-Up
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.

Posted in: Convention
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.
Posted in: Convention
'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.
Posted in: Convention
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
Posted in: Convention
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.

Posted in: Convention
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.

Posted in: Convention
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
The Jewish Book Carnival is a monthly event where bloggers who blog about Jewish books can meet, read, and comment on each others’ posts. The posts are hosted on one of the participant’s sites on the 15th of each month.

For the month of June, 2011, our host is Erika Dreifus at My Machberet (Hebrew for "notebook"). She's got a great round-up of posts from all over the blogosphere. You'll find author interviews, book reviews, suggested reading lists, reflections on Jewish Book Network experiences, and various Shavuot-themed posts.

Visit My Machberet for the June Jewish Book Carnival!
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

FaceBook Logo“Facebook Friday” is a series of live conversations with Judaica experts that take place on the Association of Jewish Libraries’ Facebook page at

On Friday June 3, 2011 between noon and 3:30 Eastern time, AJL convention co-chair Marsha Lustigman will answer questions about the AJL convention that will take place in Montreal, June 19-22, 2011. Users can post questions or comments on the wall of AJL’s Facebook page and receive responses from Marsha throughout the afternoon.


The page at may be viewed by anyone with an Internet connection, but one must be a Facebook member and must click “Like” on AJL’s Facebook page in order to post questions and participate in the conversation. AJL’s Facebook page has 600 fans at the present time.

JBCThe Jewish Book Carnival is a monthly event where bloggers who blog about Jewish books can meet, read, and comment on each others’ posts. The posts are hosted on one of the participant’s sites on the 15th of each month.

For May 2011, our host is The Whole Megillah at'll find links to book reviews, author interviews, library news, and even an original story for Lag B'Omer.

Please visit the Carnival and comment on the posts. If you'd like to participate in the June 15 Jewish Book Carnival at My Machberet, please contact host Erika Dreifus with a link from your own blog. For more information about the Jewish Book Carnival, click on the Jewish Book Carnival HQ link in the Resources/Blog section of the AJL website!

Hope everyone had a kosher and simcha-filled Pesach. Back to work for us here on the link round up. Here are this week’s bookmarkable links.

In the spirit of Preservation Week coming up…

The World Digital Library contains a number of digitized maps of Israel here:

If a newspaper goes out of business, what happens to its archives? If a newspaper becomes available only online, what happens to yesterday’s (or last year’s) news? Why should we care? Read more about the recent Newspaper Archive Summit:

Follow the upcoming Archiving 2011 conference. Read more about it here:

Check out the recently updated Digital Libraries Wiki by the ischool of Syracuse University:

That’s all for this week. Good Shabbos!

Posted in: Link Round-Up

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