The 2015 conference of the Association of Jewish Libraries was number 50 for the organization, and I was happy to be a part of it! Our sessions included lectures by unique authors and children’s illustrators, subject experts from research institutions, and workshops on unique topics.
Dr. Monika Schreiber from the Judaica Library at the University of Vienna spoke on a panel about a special reparations project she is working on. She and her colleagues at the library have been performing autopsies on thousands of books that are suspected to have been looted by the Nazis in World War II, searching for clues to the identity of the rightful owners.
Through this program, they have successfully found many such victims and their descendants, reuniting them with their families’ stolen collections.
I also enjoyed learning about the projects protecting the history of Jewish communities in previously settled areas of South Africa, Cape Verde, and Sudan, as well as the library programs helping the Jewish population of Argentina thrive today.
We explored Washington DC in the context of library and information science, thanks to our gracious hosts at the Library of Congress and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. I was able to speak with a rare book curator at the museum to get some ideas for preserving and cataloging older items in our new special collection at Temple Israel. They have an amazing collection of literature, archives, and reference material that together tell the stories of genocide victims worldwide.
I am thrilled to finally put faces to some of the librarians I have been communicating with online. I shared stories with librarians of many backgrounds, who are accomplishing amazing things in their everyday work lives. This conference was a wonderful experience, and I look forward to participating next year for 51.