Hi! I am Susan Dubin, President of The Association of Jewish Libraries (AJL), and we are "The People of the Books." I just came back from our annual convention. This year we met in Cleveland at the Cleveland Marriott East, with some of the friendliest and most helpful hotel staffs I have ever known. The Cleveland chapter of the Association of Jewish Libraries organized the convention and provided learning, entertainment, and comraderie beyond excellent. Many of the sessions were recorded for podcasting and will be available soon on our website at www.jewishlibraries.org . In the meantime, you can read thoughts and observations from some of the convention attendees as well as some photos of the event at the 2008 AJL Convention Blog. Check it out! Nothing replaces the excitement of meeting old and new friends and being able to network in person, however.
The tone for the Convention was set by the keynote address by Dr. Ellen Frankel, CEO of the Jewish Publication Society. Dr. Frankel is a well-known author and publisher. She gave an overview of the history of Jewish publishing in the United Sates and left us with many words of wisdom.
One of the highlights of the Convention was a workshop on library advocacy. Unfortunately, libraries are very much undervalued in our society and several libraries have closed or reduced their services due to budget cuts. This workshop helped librarians to become their own best advocates and gave very practical tips on how to do that. The Association of Jewish Libraries (AJL) plans to offer this program to chapters or regions around the country as a way of supporting those members who are being faced with budget cuts or lay-offs.
Another amazing event was the post-convention 40th anniversary celebration of the Sydney Taylor Book Awards. This one-day workshop brought together authors, illustrators and publishers to reflect on the history of Jewish literature for children and speculate about future trends. One of the panels I attended on teen literature featured three prominent authors -- Sonia Levitin, Carol Matas, and Margo Rabb -- and had attendees in tears over the authors' personal stories. The Newbery Medalist and Sydney Taylor Book Award-winning author Sid Fleischman was the luncheon keynote speaker.
Hopefully you will join us next year when we go to Chicago!
'Til next time,