"People of the Books" Blog


AJL Spotlight is an on-going series that highlights the day-in-a-life of our members and libraries. This week we interviewed, Heidi Estrin, winner of the 2016 Fanny Goldstein Merit Award Scholarship.

Name: Heidi Estrin
Your institution: Feldman Children’s Library at Congregation B’nai Israel of Boca Raton, Florida
Job title: Library Director and Media Specialist

How big is the collection you manage?
We have 9,000+ volume library serving the children of our Reform synagogue preschool and religious school, as well as their parents and teachers.

What is your typical day?
1) Storytimes for Baby Center and Preschool classes, including read-aloud, singing, and demonstrating an iPad app
2) Computer Lab classes for Preschool
3) Order books for the library from Ebay to find the best prices on new and gently used titles
4) Edit and post a new episode of The Book of Life, my podcast about Jewish books, music, film and web
5) Sort through used books donated to library
6) Attend professional development workshop for staff of the religious school
7) Write up plans for our Year of Literary Celebrations (different literary activities each month in the Preschool)
8) Reference and reader’s advisory for teachers and parents

How did you get involved with AJL?
I got involved in 1998. I had just been hired at Congregation B’nai Israel when longtime member Lee Wixman z”l waltzed into the library and said “South Florida AJL is hosting the next convention and you’re going to help. I’ll drive you to the chapter meeting.” He did, and I did, and I haven’t missed a conference since. Jumping in the deep end was good for me.

What AJL positions have you served?
Past President
Past Chair of Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee
Past Chair of PR Committee
Past Chair of Mentoring Committee

What have been some memorable highlights at conferences?
I particularly enjoyed the special kidlit celebration we did in Cleveland (2008) for the 40th anniversary of the Sydney Taylor Book Award. Maybe we can do something like that again in 2018! There’s always something special about each conference destination too. In Cambridge (2006), I took a side-trip with Etta Gold to Western Mass to see the Yiddish Book Center and Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. In Chicago (2009), I got to visit the Planet Esme Book Room. The travel is fun, but the best part is seeing my once-a-year librarian friends. It’s sort of like going back to summer camp each year!

Can you recommend a book to us?
At AJL15, I got to interview Laura Gehl, author of Hare and Tortoise Race Across Israel, so I will recommend that book. I like how it has a plot beyond “whirlwind tour of Israel” and I really love the sophisticated illustrations.

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