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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
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 April 2011, our host is the Jewish Book Council blog at There you will find links to Jewish book reviews, author interviews, and other booky Jewishy goodness.

Please visit the Carnival, comment on the posts, and if you'd like to play next time, send a booky Jewishy link from your own blog to our May host, The Whole Megillah, at

For more information about the Jewish Book Carnival, click on Jewish Book Carnival Headquarters on the right-hand sidebar here at People of the Books.
As the 2011 AJL Convention approaches, AJL will be publishing the remaining podcast episodes from the 2010 Convention at an accelerated rate! Watch Hasafran, Facebook, and Twitter for notices of new episodes. You can listen to any podcast episode at

If you're not familiar with podcasting, you can become a maven by reading the primer below. Enjoy!

What is a podcast?

A podcast is an audio or video program on the Internet. What makes it different from any old audio clip or YouTube video? A podcast is an ongoing show that has multiple episodes, and you can subscribe to it. The same way you can subscribe to a magazine and have each issue arrive at your house, you can subscribe to a podcast and have each new episode arrive on your computer. Subscriptions for podcasts are usually free.

What will you find on the AJL Podcast?

AJL’s podcast is made up of audio recordings of sessions from our conventions and other regional AJL-related events. We have been podcasting since 2008.

How do you get the AJL Podcast?

You can find the podcast at  At that location, you can read instructions for subscribing to the podcast. ***You do NOT have to subscribe to the podcast in order to listen to it!*** Just like you can buy an individual issue of a magazine at a newsstand without  subscribing to the magazine, you can listen to individual episodes of the AJL Podcast at our website without subscribing to it. It’s your own choice.

How is the AJL Podcast page organized?

When you go to, you will see a complete list of all our audio recordings, alphabetically arranged by the last name of the speaker. You can click on the title of any recording to be taken to its individual page, where you can click the PLAY button to listen. If you would like to narrow your search, you have two options. You can click on a broad category of interest: RAS, SSC, or Children’s & Youth Literature. Alternatively, you can click on Index to be taken to more specific subject headings.

When scrolling through the complete list of audio recordings, you may notice that some speakers have multiple recordings. That is because so  many wonderful authors and AJL members return to our conventions with new information to share year after year!

Who’s in charge of the AJL Podcast?

The AJL Podcast is overseen by Heidi Estrin, who has been podcasting since 2005 at her synagogue library. Her library’s podcast is called The Book of Life, and it receives some support from AJL, making cross-promotion possible. You can hear episodes of The Book of Life at
Shabbat Shalom Safranim! Here is the AJL weekly list of bookmarkable links.

In the spirit of the upcoming convention in Montreal, check out their Jewish Public Library Archives. They're also on Flickr, accessible here:

The Vilnius Jewish Library has been established to celebrate culture created by Jews. It is the first Jewish library in Lithuania since 1943, and will be opening spring/summer of 2011:

Marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Yad Vashem and Google announced a partnership that will greatly facilitate preservation of and access to the world’s largest historical collection on the Holocaust. They have almost 140,000 pictures available for viewing here:

SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) has announced it will host a new discussion forum dedicated to the unique needs of the subject-based digital repository community. As repositories continue to grow as an engine for driving Open Access worldwide, new challenges and opportunities emerge and the demand for more focused conversations grows:

Putting misshelved books back in their proper places is not a library worker’s favorite task. It takes time and it’s not exactly scintillating. Now a computer-science professor has come up with a way to make the process faster and less burdensome: an augmented-reality shelf-reading app that can scan an entire shelf’s worth of books at a time and alert workers which ones are out of place:
Posted in: Link Round-Up

Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee member Barbara Krasner has created an expert-packed workshop to guide Jewish children's writers in new directions with guest faculty and AJL member Linda Silver, author of Best Jewish Books for Children and Teens, to help. The workshop will take place at the homeplace of the Founders of Highlights for Children near Honesdale, Pennsylvania, May 15-18, 2011.

Additional guest faculty includes Margery Cuyler, publisher, Marshall Cavendish Children’s Books and its new Jewish imprint, Shofar Books; Ruth Katcher, Egmont editor-at-large; Natalie Blitt, expert on Jewish children’s literature and former program director and book selection committee chair, The PJ Library; Debra Hess, Senior Editor, Highlights for Children; and Laurel Snyder, author of Baxter, the Pig Who Wanted to Be Kosher and Penny Dreadful.

Find complete information at
Shavua Tov Safranim! Here is this week's bookmarkable links:

Judaica Libraries Unite

The New York Public Library, New York University, and Columbia University, which all have extensive Judaica collections are collaborating to offer scholars/members of any one of the three institutions to access to all three collections, Read more here. (By way of Michelle Chesner's blog).

Google Settlement goes Sour

Google has been getting some negative news this past week. In this interview with Tech Crunch, you can watch Siva Vaidyanathan talk about his new book Googlization, in which he describes Google as an unchecked monopolist of information services.

Also, the Scholarly Kitchen and Boook offer some thoughts about the rejection of the second attempt at the GoogleBooks court settlement for copyright infringement.

Some thoughts on education for digital natives

Given the rapid pace of changing technology, need to keep thinking about how they can change their services to meet the needs of new students. These two links below offer some ideas:


PBS documentary on reaching today’s youth through digital media

Watch the full episode. See more Digital Media - New Learners Of The 21st Century.

Posted in: Link Round-Up
Shalom Safranim! Hope everyone had a great Purim. Here is this week's bookmarkable links:

Gearing up for Pesach

Harvard University Press recently published a facsimile version of the Library of Congress's beautiful Washingoton Haggadah, written and illustrated by Yoel ben Shimon during the 15th century. More pictures are available here  and a description of the book here (thanks to Heidi Estrein for sending this link along).

Haggadah image 4

Also, in case you've never seen it, the Library of Congress has its Hebraic Collection online which contains a variety of Judaica as well as information and pictures of other Haggadot.

This year's Computer's in Libaries Conference:

Professor Jill Hurst-Wahl has been blogging on some of the issues being discussed at this year's Computer's in Libraries conference, such as community tagging, library marketing, and new search features for web search engines:

In the spirit of the AJL conference in Montreal this coming summer:

A video glossary of Yiddish words and expressions from the Shtetl Montreal:

Yiddish humorist and native Torontorian Michael Wex talks about Canadian Jewish History and his new book, The Frumkiss Family Business:
Posted in: Link Round-Up
jbcThanks to Linda K. Wertheimer for hosting this month's Jewish Book Carnival over at Jewish Muse! She has gathered interesting posts about Purim, faith, reading recommendations, and by luck, multiple reviews of David Grossman's To the End of the Land.

Follow the links! Read the posts! Leave lots of comments! And watch for April's Jewish Book Carnival at The Jewish Book Council.

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