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Dear AJL Members,

I'm sure that many of you were affected by Hurricane Sandy. The AJL Council has asked me to let you know that we are thinking of you. We hope that you are your loved ones are safe and that you avoided major damage at home and at your libraries.

Be well,
Heidi Estrin
President, Association of Jewish Libraries
and the entire AJL Council

Entries are now being considered for the 2013 Sydney Taylor Book Award, which recognizes the best children’s literature of Jewish content.  Publishers are invited to submit any books of Jewish content for children and teens with a 2012 copyright. 

The criteria used to evaluate books for the Sydney Taylor Book Award are:

·        The book has literary merit.

·        The book has positive or authentic Jewish religious or cultural content.

·        The book is appropriate for the intended grade level in style, vocabulary, format,and illustration.

·        Whether fiction or nonfiction, the book is solidly rooted in authentic and accurate detail, through scholarship and research by the author.

·        Textbooks and reprints are not eligible, although revised editions and re-illustrated editions are eligible.

In order to be considered, a review copy of each title must be sent to each member of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee.  No application form is necessary; simply mail the books in a package labeled “Sydney Taylor Book Award Submission.”  By submitting a title to the committee you are granting permission to use the book jacket image in any Sydney Taylor Book Award promotional materials.

The Awards will be announced in January 2013.  To ensure that the Committee has enough time to evaluate all of the submissions, there is no guarantee that books received after December 1, 2012 will be considered for the awards.  Please send submissions as soon as they are available.  The Committee is happy to receive a prepublication version while waiting for the bound book.

The Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee looks forward to evaluating your new books! For additional information and a commitee roster, contact: Aimee Lurie at

Posted in: Awards

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

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
The Jewish Book Carnival is a monthly event where book bloggers who promote Jewish literature come together to share some of their best content from the past month. Hosted by a different blog each month, the Carnival offers a roundup of links to great articles, book reviews, essays, and interviews.

The seed for the Jewish Book Carnival was planted when AJL blogger Heidi Estrin attended the first Book Blogger Convention at Book Expo America in 2010. She brought the idea to AJL consultant Marie Cloutier, and together they recruited other bloggers and set up the Jewish Book Carnival.

The first Jewish Book Carnival was posted in July, 2010, two years ago this month. It was hosted on AJL's own blog, People of the Books. You can see that very first post here. From the outset, the Carnival got excellent participation across the blogosphere. Regular contributors include The Prosen People (the blog of the Jewish Book Council), The Whole Megillah, My Machberet, Jewesses with Attitude (the blog of the Jewish Women's Archive), Homeshuling, and more. See the Jewish Book Carnival HQ for links to participating blogs, and for an archive of past Carnivals.

This anniversary Carnival is hosted by The Whole Megillah: The Writer's Resource for Jewish-themed Story: Fiction, Nonfiction and Poetry.  Barbara Krasner, writer, editor, and member of AJL's Sydney Taylor Book Award committee, is the blog host. She posts excellent interviews with members of the Jewish literary community, from authors to agents to librarians, as well as beautifully clear book reviews. This month she graciously hosts the July Jewish Book Carnival, which includes reviews, interviews, and personal essays.

We hope you enjoy this monthly list of links! When you visit the various blogs, please leave comments so that the bloggers know you're out there; they appreciate the feedback so much. Thanks to all the bloggers who make the Jewish Book Carnival happen, and to the readers who care about Jewish books!
Yona Zeldis McDonough is our Facebook Writer-in-Residence during the month of July! She is the author of four novels, the most recent of which, A WEDDING IN GREAT NECK, will be out in October 2012. She is also the author of 19 books for children, including THE DOLL WITH THE YELLOW STAR, which won an award from the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and THE CATS IN THE DOLL SHOP, which was named a notable book by the Sydney Taylor committee. Additionally, she is the editor of two essay collections and her essays, stories and articles have appeared in numerous national and literary publications. For the past twelve years, she has been the fiction editor at Lilith Magazine, a feminist, Jewish quarterly. Learn more about her at

We're only a few days into July, but already Yona has provided us with links to interesting blogs, literary events, author websites, and prize-winning Jewish fiction.

You don't need to be a Facebook user to access these links (although logging into Facebook and "liking" AJL will allow you to leave your own comments). To view Yona's reading suggestions, simply go to!

Let us know what you think of our new Facebook Writer-in-Residence program, whether you think we should do it again, and to suggest writers from whom you'd like to hear.
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!
Posted in: Convention

Jean Naggar, author of the memoir Sipping from the Nile: My Exodus from Egypt, shares with us some thoughts on the art of the memoir. Enter our drawing for a free copy of Sipping from the Nile by leaving a comment on AJL's Facebook page at by April 30, 2012!  And now, let's hear from Jean, herself:

I never planned to write a memoir. Fiction was my passion, and if I was ever granted time to write, I knew it would be a novel. The catalyst that started the process of writing my memoir came zooming out of left field soon after the births of my first grandchildren. I realized then that they would be growing up so distant from me in generation, time, and space, that they would never be able to imagine the childhood I had experienced, or to know the people who had woven the magical fabric of my young years. Looking back, I realized that the community and the world I had known had completely disappeared. It began to seem increasingly important to write them back into being, to preserve their vibrant personalities and idiosyncrasies, along with the rich and complicated world in which they flourished.           

I had grown up in a large extended Sephardic family in Egypt, before the Suez crisis of 1956 put an end to that life and that world. This newborn generation sending billows of joy to my heart held the key to the future, but I held the key to their past. They were entitled to find it, if they ever went seeking.


So I thought I should jot down a few memories of my childhood in moments stolen from a busy life. I never meant to share my reflections with the world. I wrote for my family. But as I began to open locked doors and allow the past back in, more and more memories, more scenes, more scents and sounds of a lost world swelled into being and jostled in my mind for attention. Soon, I began to write for the immense pleasure in the craft, and the satisfaction of feeling that I was rendering homage to those who came before me, and laying a path for those in search of themselves to follow. I began to see that I, myself, was a mere fragment in time, the sum of choices made by unknown ancestors, in a distant past.


The more I worked on draft after draft, the more I came to an understanding that memoir is both unique, and universal. As readers began to respond to what I had written, I learned that each personal memoir holds truths and commonalities way beyond those experienced by the writer.  Every life, whatever the circumstances, turns out to be a universal tale of reversals and transformations, shaped by the storms of politics, economics, wars, and losses; the prism through which each tale is viewed is what bends the experience into widely differing shapes for each individual. Every memoir is an attempt to make sense of it all, to seek out a vanished past that leaves its faint footprint in the present.


We live in an era of emails and text messages that leave little possibility for future generations to discover a bundle of letters bound with blue ribbon in an attic. History and biography are always colored by the politics of the day. So I believe that personal memoir will probably be the only true witness for future generations to learn how we really lived, and who we were.


In striving to make sense of our own lives, we are drawn to read about the lives of others. Whether those lives mirror our own or offer a taste of exotica or trauma we have not shared, we enter them for a brief time, taking pleasure or pain in the sharing, and always finding a common humanity.


For me, writing my memoir, Sipping From the Nile, was a transformational experience. I laid the past to rest. The echo of my life bounced back to me across the topography of decades, bringing resolution, self-knowledge, meaning, and substance to the present.

About Jean Naggar

Jean Naggar was born in Alexandria, Egypt. She grew up in Cairo, moving to England, and then New York City, where she currently resides. She is the founder of the prominent Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency, Inc. Her work has been published in the New York Times, the Village Voice and Publishers Weekly. She is the mother of three adult children and grandmother of seven. Now, she is at last exploring her childhood dreams: to write.

Her memoir of a magical childhood, SIPPING FROM THE NILE, My Exodus from Egypt, is available in print, Kindle and audio versions at the following link: Amazon, or you can visit her at: and

Posted in: Authors, Giveaway
Katie Davis, host of the award-winning children's literature podcast, Brain Burps About Books, has created a special episode focused exclusively on the Sydney Taylor Book Award. Davis is a long-time fan of author Sydney Taylor and of the award named in her memory. The special episode features interviews with each of this year's gold medalists and can be found at

Michael J. Rosen and Robert Sabuda, author and artist of Chanukah Lights, Susan Goldman Rubin, author of Music Was It: Young Leonard Bernstein, and Robert Sharenow, author of The Berlin Boxing Club,are the 2012 winners of the prestigious Sydney Taylor Book Award. All four winners appear in lively interview segments on Brain Burps About Books.

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 Pasadena, California this June.

Brain Burps About Books

Children's author/illustrator Katie Davis has published nine books and appears monthly on the ABC affiliate show, Good Morning Connecticut, recommending great books for kids. She produces Brain Burps About Books, a podcast about kidlit, a blog and monthly newsletter. You can find her podcast at
The Research Libraries, Archives, and Special Collections Division of the Association of Jewish Libraries (AJL) is very pleased to announce the winner of its 2012 Judaica Bibliography Award.
The winner is Bibliographia Karaitica published by Brill. Edited by Barry Dov Walfish and Mikhail Kizilov, this work is a mammoth bibliography that captures every conceivable aspect of Karaite literature and culture. Bibliographia Karaitica is not only the most comprehensive, superior bibliography in its field, but also a magnificent scholarly work that will stand out for its quality and serve generations of scholars for many years to come.. More information on the Bibliography can be found at
Thanks to Our Sponsors

We would like to thank Eric Chaim Kline of Los Angeles, who sponsors the annual Judaica Bibliography Award. The 2012 award will be presented at the AJL 47th Annual Convention banquet, which will take place on Tuesday evening, June 19, 2012 at the Langham Huntington Hotel  in Pasadena, California.
For more information about AJL's Judaica Reference & Bibliography Awards, including past winners, please visit

Awards Committee
The Reference & Bibliography Awards Committee includes Michlean Amir (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum), Yoram Bitton (Hebrew Union College), Rachel Leket-Mor (Arizona State University), Daniel Rettberg (Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati), Pinchas Roth (Hebrew University), Rachel Simon (Princeton University), and Daniel Scheide, chair (Florida Atlantic University).
Eric Kimmel, author of The Golem's Latkes
Sydney Taylor Notable Book, and winner of the National Jewish Book Award
at Ann Koffsky's Blog

Gloria Spielman, author of Marcel Marceau, Master of Mime
Sydney Taylor Notable Book, and finalist for the National Jewish Book Award
at Shannon and the Sunshine Band

Richard Michelson, author of Lipman Pike: America's First Home Run King
Sydney Taylor Notable Book, and finalist for the National Jewish Book Award
at Blue Thread

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

Thanks to everyone for participating and mazel tov on your achievements!

We continue our blog tour today with two of our silver medalists, one author/illustrator for young readers, and an author who writes for teens.

Durga Yael Bernhard, author & illustrator of Around the World in One Shabbat
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Younger Readers Category
at Frume Sarah's World

Shirley Vernick, author of The Blood Lie
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Teen Readers Category
at The Fourth Musketeer

Today we hear from all of our gold medalists! Mazel tov to each one of them!

Michael Rosen, author of Chanukah Lights
Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Younger Readers Category
at A Chair, a Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy

Robert Sabuda, illustrator/paper engineer of Chanukah Lights
Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Younger Readers Category
at Practically Paradise

Susan Goldman Rubin, author of Music Was It: Young Leonard Bernstein
Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Older Readers Category
at Cynsations

Robert Sharenow, author of The Berlin Boxing Club
Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Teen Readers Category
at Jewish Books for Children

Yesterday we got a little confused by the time difference between Singapore (the location of our blogger at Gathering Books) and the US, where the Blog Tour is based. However, we NOW have for you the interview with Anne Timmons and Mo Oh, the illustrators of Lily Renee, Escape Artist by Trina Robbins, a 2012 Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Older Readers category.

Please enjoy the interview here at the "Behind the Books" section of Gathering Books!

It's Day 3 of the exciting Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour! Today we hear from the creators of an innovative graphic novel biography about a Holocaust survivor who became a comics artist, and we hear about the second installment in Morris Gleitzman's series of sensitive Holocaust novels.

Trina Robbins, author of Lily Renee, Escape Artist: From Holocaust Survivor to Comic Book Pioneer
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Older Readers Category
at Bildungsroman

Anne Timmons  and Mo Oh, illustrators of of Lily Renee, Escape Artist: From Holocaust Survivor to Comic Book Pioneer
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Older Readers Category
at Gathering Books
[Note: This is Gathering Books' "Nonfiction Monday." review of Lily Renee. The interview with the illustrators will be posted later.]

Morris Gleitzman
, author of Then
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Teen Readers Category
at The 3 R's

Welcome to Day 2 of the 2012 Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour! Today we'll hear from the author and illustrator of Irena's Jar of Secrets, a picture book biography of Irena Sendler, "a righteous gentile" who saved Jewish lives during the Holocaust.

Marcia Vaughan, author of Irena's Jar of Secrets
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Older Readers Category
at Shelf-Employed

Ron Mazellan, illustrator of Irena's Jar of Secrets
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Older Readers Category
at The Children's War

We are thrilled to kick off the 2012 Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour today! All week long, we will be bringing you interviews with award-winning authors and illustrators, hosted on various blogs around the web. Thanks to all the bloggers for hosting tour stops! Readers, please feel free to leave comments on the participating blogs and to spread the word about these fascinating interviews!

Today we hear from two authors and an illustrator.

Susan Campbell Bartoletti, author of Naamah and the Ark at Night
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Younger Readers Category
at Ima On & Off the Bima

Holly Meade
, illustrator of Naamah and the Ark at Night
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Younger Readers Category
at Into the Wardrobe

Shelley Sommer
, author of Hammerin' Hank Greenberg, Baseball Pioneer
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Older Readers Category
at Great Kid Books


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