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The June Jewish Book Carnival, a monthly roundup of Jewish literary links from across the blogosphere, is being hosted by Kathy Bloomfield at ForWords Books. You can read it at You’ll find links to Jewish book reviews, interviews, and essays, as well as Kathy's excellent report on the Bloggers' conference at Book Expo America.

Next month’s Carnival will be hosted by Barbara Krasner at The Whole Megillah. Submit your posts to barbarakrasner [at] att [dot] net by July 12, 2013.

The 48th Annual Association of Jewish Libraries Conference in Houston, Texas starts in one week! I am looking forward to seeing many of you there, but I hope that those who can't join us in person will keep an eye on Facebook for the duration of the conference (June 16-19). We'll be posting photos and status updates live from Houston to

If you are not a Facebook user, don't worry! You don't have to sign up or log in to view AJL's Facebook page! Just go to and you'll see everything we post!

If you ARE a Facebook user, please click Like on AJL's page if you haven't already. This will allow you to receive our posts in your news feed, and it will mean you can post comments on our photos and status updates! We would LOVE to hear from you, so please do add your "likes" and comments once we start posting from the conference!

To those who will be in Houston - I'd be happy to have additional volunteers help Facebook the conference! If you're interested, send a friend request to Heidi Rabinowitz Estrin (if we're not FB friends already) and message me to let me know you'd like to be part of the fun!

See you all soon in Houston and on Facebook!
Heidi Rabinowitz Estrin
Association of Jewish Libraries
Posted in: Conferences

Get Your Copy!

48th Annual Association of Jewish Libraries Conference

June 16-19, 2013

Houston, TX



Posted in: Conferences

AJL member Uri Kolodney recently attended the Info2013 conference in Tel Aviv, representing AJL. This is an annual conference organized by Teldan, an Israeli company that acts as a leading "supplier of business, scientific and technological information, offering a full range of information products and services to Libraries, Information Centers, Universities..." and so on. For full information, see

All sessions were conducted in Hebrew, and the full program (in Hebrew) is available on the website. Many of the attendees were local librarians and information specialists.

The goal of Uri's attendance was to discuss possible cooperation between Teldan and AJL, and to promote AJL to the professionals at the conference.

To that end, Uri has obtained a free trial for AJL members of four products in Hebrew distributed by Teldan. The goal is to see whether there is interest in these products among AJL members and the patrons of their libraries.

1) Maya's Secret is an interactive website for kids ages 3-7 including Hebrew, math, and English instruction. See

2) Kotar Iyun is a digital library with hundreds of titles in Hebrew, dealing mainly with the history of Israel and Erets-Yisrael, biblical studies, education, sociology and Israeli culture. This library includes encyclopedias, bibliographies, and reference works. See

3) Kotar Limud is a digital library that includes all textbooks used in the Israeli education system. See

4) Ofek is an interactive database of "assessment tasks" for teachers and students in the Israeli education system See

For usernames and passwords to test these products, please contact Uri Kolodney at, and let him know your opinion of the products after you try them out. The free trial is available until July 1, 2013.

We do not yet have information about probably costs or discounts on these products, we are just in the stage of assessing interest.

Posted in: Announcements

For the Record:

48th Annual Association of Jewish Libraries Conference

June 16-19, 2013

Houston, TX

Posted in: Conferences

A Cordial Invitation 

The Association of Jewish Libraries (AJL), the Catholic Library Association (CLA) and the American Theological Library Association (ATLA) present:


Sunday, June 30, from 4:00-6:00 p.m.

For ATLA, AJL, and CLA members and friends. Light, kosher refreshments will be served.

Venue: St. James Common
Episcopal Diocese of Chicago
65 East Huron
Chicago, IL 60611

Please RSVP no later than June 25, 2013 to:
Rick Rybak, / 312.775.9435

A printable PDF, including a map and directions, is available here.

48th Annual Association of Jewish Libraries Conference

June 16-19, 2013

Houston, TX

Posted in: Conferences
48th Annual Association of Jewish Libraries Conference

June 16-19, 2013

Houston, TX

The May Jewish Book Carnival, a monthly roundup of Jewish literary links from across the blogosphere, is being hosted by Heidi Estrin at The Book of Life. You can read it at’ll find links to Jewish book reviews, interviews, and essays! 

Next month’s Carnival will be hosted by Kathy Bloomfield at Forwords Books. If you blog and you’d like to participate, please email her at kathyb [at] forwordsbooks [dot] com by June 12 with your links!

48th Annual Association of Jewish Libraries Conference

June 16-19, 2013

Houston, TX

Posted in: Conferences

Call for Papers: Judaica Librarianship

The Association of Jewish Libraries (AJL) is pleased to announce that its peer-reviewed journal, Judaica Librarianship, will be published online starting with the next issue. The journal will be available to subscribers for 12 months following the publication of each issue, while back issues will be freely accessible to all on the Internet. Additional information about the new online configuration will be released soon.

The Editorial Board of Judaica Librarianship invites submissions for the journal's next issue, scheduled to appear in late 2013. We welcome research articles on all theoretical or practical aspects of Jewish Studies librarianship and cultural stewardship in the digital age, as well as historical studies or current surveys of noteworthy libraries or collections. All articles will go through a double-blind peer review process. We also welcome extensive reviews of reference works and electronic resources, including electronic databases and informational websites, as well as thoroughly revised and updated versions of papers presented at AJL Annual Conferences or chapter meetings.

We extend our invitation to the global community of scholars and information specialists in anticipation of a vigorous discussion on the multifaceted intersection of Library and Information Science and Jewish Studies. These are some of the relevant topics for article submissions:

* Theoretical or empirical studies integrating Library and Information Science with aspects of Jewish Studies and related fields that could stimulate the scholarly discussion about Jewish libraries. Possible areas of connection would include: the History of the Book, Bibliometrics, Literary Studies, Media Studies, Jewish languages and Linguistics, Information Technology, Literacy Studies, or Social History, to name a few.
* Best practices and policies for Jewish libraries of all kinds: school libraries (all levels); community center libraries; public libraries; Judaica collections in religious institutions; archival collections; museum and historical society libraries; research libraries; and special libraries.
* Innovative approaches to data curation, discovery tools, or preservation of library materials in the digital age.
* Descriptive essays and surveys of special collections.
* Digital Humanities projects relevant to Jewish Studies and other digitization projects.
* Historical or bibliographical studies pertaining to Hebraica and/or Judaica materials, libraries, or librarians.
* Library services for users, including but not limited to reference tools and instruction guidelines for teaching Jewish literacy, cultural programming, or any other outreach programs.
* Collaborative collection development initiatives across library networks.

AJL's Student Essay Contest

Current students enrolled in any accredited Library and Information Science program are encouraged to submit essays relevant to the field of Jewish Studies librarianship to AJL's Student Essay Contest. All student essays will be refereed; the winning essay will be considered for publication in the Student Essay section of Judaica Librarianship, and the winner will be awarded $300. Please refer to the Journal's Call for Papers for suggested topics.

Focus and Scope

Judaica Librarianship is a peer-reviewed annual published by the Association of Jewish Libraries. Situated in the field of Library and Information Science and international in scope, the journal provides a forum for scholarship on the theory and practice of Jewish Studies librarianship and Information Studies.

Judaica Librarianship seeks to publish research articles and essays related to the development and management of Judaica collections in all types of libraries and archives, the initiation and coordination of digital curation projects, the creation and dissemination of information resources in all formats, and the promotion of Jewish information literacy for diverse audiences through various outreach activities. The editorial board welcomes submissions on all theoretical or practical aspects of Jewish Studies librarianship and cultural stewardship in the digital age, as well as historical studies or current surveys of noteworthy libraries or collections.

Editorial Board

Rachel Leket-Mor, Arizona State University (Editor-in-Chief) Zachary Baker, Stanford University Pearl Berger, Yeshiva University Annette Goldsmith, University of Washington Arthur Kiron, University of Pennsylvania Roger Kohn, Library of Congress James Rosenbloom, Brandeis University Barry Dov Walfish, University of Toronto

Manuscript Submission

Please email articles, reviews, or letters, in English, to the editor (manuscripts should be single-spaced, in 12-point type). Typical peer-reviewed articles are 12-30 pages in length (3,000-8,000 words); column pieces tend to be shorter.

Text, image, audio, or video files are accepted in most file types, provided that they can be attached via email. Illustrations (tables, figures, diagrams, charts, graphs, photos, screen captures) should not be saved within text files, but submitted separately if created in other than word-processing software. Please contact the editor for inquiries regarding large or unconventional file types.

For additional details, please check the Association of Jewish Libraries website, at, under Guidelines for Contributors. Submissions and/or inquiries should be sent to
Rachel Leket-Mor
Judaica Librarianship, Editor-in-Chief
Association of Jewish Libraries

Subject Librarian
Religious Studies, Philosophy, Jewish Studies, Medieval and Renaissance Studies Collections and Scholarly Communication Office, Hayden Library Arizona State University Libraries PO Box 871006 |Tempe, AZ 85287-1006, USA
Phone: 480 965 2618 |Fax: 480 965 9127
Posted in: Call For Papers


48th Annual Association of Jewish Libraries Conference

June 16-19, 2013

Houston, TX

Posted in: Conferences

We have something new and exciting we'd like to share with you! It's the new Association of Jewish Libraries GoodApp - once added to Internet Explorer or Firefox, each time you shop at more than 2,500 stores (from Amazon to Zazzle!) a percentage of your purchase will automatically be donated to Association of Jewish Libraries - at no cost to you (and you may even save money as the app provides coupons and deals as well!). The GoodApp also has a search box and each time you search the Internet, about a penny is donated to Association of Jewish Libraries.

And please pass this along to all of your friends. The two minutes it takes to add this toolbar to your browser can make a lifetime of difference!

Get the toolbar NOW!

Posted in: Announcements

48th Annual Association of Jewish Libraries Conference

June 16-19, 2013

Houston, TX

Posted in: Conferences
48th Annual Association of Jewish Libraries Conference
June 16-19, 2013
Houston, TX

Posted in: Conferences

Austin Ratner

Barbara Krasner is a member of AJL's Sydney Taylor Book Award committee, and blogs at The Whole Megillah. She conducted this interview with author Austin Ratner about his new book, In the Land of the Living, the story of a Jewish family, "fathers, sons, and brothers - bound by love, divided by history."

Barbara Krasner (BK): On behalf of the Association of Jewish Libraries, hello and welcome, Austin. Thanks for joining me in this cyber discussion about your second novel, In the Land of the Living.

Austin Ratner (AR): I appreciate the opportunity for an interview and for your thoughtful questions. 

BK: What inspired the idea for this book?

AR: When I was in college, I consulted my creative writing teacher about a problem I imagined was unique to me: I had lost my father when I was so young I could not remember him, yet I had a recurring urge to write about him, his death, and how he lingered in my thoughts and feelings. I asked my teacher if he had any advice and I was surprised by his response. He told me that he too had lost his father in his earliest years and that everything he wrote related in some way to this loss, but he cautioned me against trying to write about it directly. As I get older and more experienced with the difficulties of writing and selling fiction, his advice seems only more sensible. Nonetheless, I could never quite exorcise the urge to write directly on this topic. That is what In the Land of the Living is about: a traumatic loss in early childhood and how it can dominate the thoughts of a person for the rest of his life.

BK: In what ways was writing In the Land of the Living different from writing The Jump Artist?

AR: While The Jump Artist also dealt with the lingering effects of emotional injury, it was in many ways a more straightforward story. It was about one discrete period of an adult man’s life. The premise of In the Land of the Living meant linking together two lives—a father and a son—that only intersected on earth for a few years. That posed technical challenges to me as a novelist.

BK: What was the greatest challenge? The greatest satisfaction?

AR: For all the lip-service paid to the importance of child development in our society, I do not find most people to be particularly psychologically literate about it or particularly interested in thinking about it. I view it as a personal victory that I was able to write directly and truthfully about the underserved theme of childhood loss and its residua, and to get it into print with a major publisher in both the U.S. and France. It’s the most civilized response I think I could mount against this particularly helpless experience. Several years ago, when I wrote about the theme more autobiographically in The New York Times Magazine, I heard from all kinds of people who felt as I did. I hope I speak for them as well as to them.

BK: What thought process did you use to set up Isidore as a knight (and the chapter headings)?

AR: Picaresque medieval romances like Le Morte D’Arthur use grandiose chapter titles that confer legendary significance upon everything the knights do. I used such titles in Part I of my novel in the same spirit that Cervantes uses them in Don Quixote: to satirize quixotic, heroic, romantic ideals—or at least to draw a contrast between them and the more sordid and brutal reality. Whereas Don Quixote often undermines the heroic ideal by comic failures, the brutal reality of what happens to Isidore undermines the heroic ideal in a particularly tragic way.

BK: The relationship between Leo and Mack fascinates me—how one event can shift the foundation of a relationship. How did this come about? Was it difficult or easy to write? What led to the choice of Leo as your protagonist?

AR: The relationship between the brothers I think is really important to help aerate the protagonist Leo’s internal warfare with his own past. With Mack in it, the narrative is not only about Leo and his past but about another person too, and Leo’s interactions with his brother are a narrative strategy for telling the story of Leo’s relation to his own past in a dynamic, living, present-tense sort of way. Brothers share a certain history, and so a brother can be a living representative of one’s own past, and a way of interacting with one’s own past in an external way. 

BK: One of the characteristics I’ve noticed about your writing is your specificity, for example, the scene in the New Haven Public Library: “But this library couldn’t save him, with its shabby little collections, its early closing time, its oblivious teenage librarian doing her homework, making fat redundant loops of blue ballpoint ink on some wide-ruled notebook paper.” Does this come naturally to you or do you insert these details strategically?

AR: We recently started reading Charlotte’s Web to my younger son. Its details create a persuasive fictional dream in a way that many other children’s stories don’t. Charlotte’s Web is of course by E.B. White, the master himself, co-author of Elements of Style. That classic writing primer says: “The greatest writers—Homer, Dante, Shakespeare—are effective largely because they deal in particulars and report the details that matter. Their words call up pictures.”

In the Land of the Living

BK: What do you want readers to take away from In the Land of the Living?

AR: If I’ve emulated E.B. White’s use of detail, I couldn’t aspire to the beautiful simplicity of his story structure—and the reason perhaps goes back to the decision not to back away from a direct, realistic treatment of childhood loss despite this subject’s enormous psychological complexity. Literature has perhaps moved on from the deep introspection of modernism, but the emotional terrain of childhood loss requires such deep modernist introspection, wherein a persuasive fictional dream of inner life occupies the foreground and a diverting story the background. I hope readers enjoy the story and the humor in In the Land of the Living, but the more important thing to me is whether readers experience a persuasive fictional dream and feel they’ve encountered another real consciousness in the book. A persuasive fictional dream is always more diverting to me than a conventional story anyway.

BK: Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you go from med school to the Iowa Workshop?

AR: This question always makes me think of Gonzo in The Muppet Movie. He tells Kermit and Fozzie he’s going to Bombay, India to become a movie star. They tell him: you don’t go to Bombay, India to become a movie star, you go to Hollywood, where we’re going. Gonzo says, sure, if you want to do it the easy way. I always wanted to be a writer, but I did not take a direct path. There are worse paths, though, than the one that leads through a medical career. Somerset Maugham said that medical school was the ideal preparation for any fiction writer.

BK: What’s your typical writing schedule? In other words, how do you write?

AR: When I am not crippled by self-doubt, I write automatically, like I eat and breathe and sleep. The trick for me is to combat the doubt. Then the words come and work gets done and something gets created.

BK: Thanks, Austin, for a great interview. I can’t wait to read your next work.

Posted in: Authors, Interview

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

Posted in: Conferences

   In these difficult economic times, libraries are often on the line. Despite their inherent worth and their natural alignment with Jewish values, libraries within larger Jewish organizations may be seen as a "frill" when it comes time for budget-cutting.

   In order to prevent such a dire scenario, it's important to market library services and advocate for the library all year round. Library advocacy guides can help you do so without reinventing the wheel.

  There are many library advocacy guides available online, but until now there has not been one with a Jewish point of view. AJL has created the Jewish Library Advocacy Kit, which includes materials that can simply be handed to administrators, as well as documents to be adapted and recrafted for each library's individual situation.

   You can find the Jewish Library Advocacy Kit on the AJL website in the Resources section, or simply download the PDF here. We hope that you will find these materials useful, and that you will let us know of any suggestions for improvement.

The February/March 2013 issues of AJL News & Reviews have now been posted to the members-only section of the website, at Please log in to read them. Older issues are freely available without login.

This issue of AJL News includes the rundown of Sydney Taylor Book Award winners, a recap of the Midwinter Council meeting, and information and registration form for the AJL Conference in Houston this June. AJL Reviews, as always, offers critical reviews of adult and children's books of Jewish interest.


On this final day of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour, awards committee member Barbara Krasner hosts a roundtable wrap-up at her blog, The Whole Megillah. Read responses from various winners, as if they were participating in a panel presentation at a conference!


Thanks to all the winners for their participation in the blog tour, to all the bloggers for hosting, and to you, the readers, for your enthusiasm and attention!

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