Page 64 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 21

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The greatest strength of the Library lies, of course, in the
fields of rabbinics, Bible, history and medieval Jewish literature.
In these areas it has always been the policy of the librarians to
acquire everything available, whether printed or manuscript. The
number of critical editions of classical and rabbinic texts based
upon the Library’s resources is legion.
Since archives are invaluable resources of historical data,
special efforts have been made to collect important family records
and correspondence. Communal records, including pinkasim,
mohel books, tax registers, kethubot, welfare and burial accounts
of scores of now defunct Jewish communities, are often today
the sole materials for reconstructing a glorious, but forgotten
page in Jewish history. Our collection of original documents
relating to Franco-Jewry rivals that of France itself. No library
houses a more complete and revealing collection of Jewish
Sovietica, and outside of Spain it would be difficult to find a
finer set of Inquisition records. The Jewish Theological Seminary
has lists of no less than 598 Autos da Fe held in Portugal alone
in the course of two centuries and a half.
During the past few years, the Seminary’s immense collections
have been vastly enriched through the addition of microfilms.
Admiral Lewis L. Strauss presented microfilms of all the Hebrew
manuscripts in the Biblioteca Escorial in Madrid. Friends of
the late Professor Louis Ginzberg enabled the Library to obtain
microfilms of the major manuscript collections of the world’s
great libraries. All or large portions of the Hebrew manuscripts
of the British Museum, the Bodleian in Oxford, Cambridge Uni-
versity, the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris, the Vatican, the
Kaufmann collection in Budapest, and many others, are now
concentrated at the Jewish Theological Seminary. The ease and
convenience of consulting and comparing at will manuscripts
hitherto widely scattered and often uncatalogued, have led to
immeasurably rapid progress especially in Genizah research.
The Library3s Future Development
The fact that the Library has long outgrown its physical
facilities has been a matter of increasing concern in recent years.
At the end of 1959, after a year of intensive study, Professor
Maurice F. Tauber completed a commissioned report on the
Library. His survey comprised a total of 154 pages, and it recom-
mended as of prime importance the erection of a new modern
library building, the employment of professional staff, and the
re-cataloguing of the collections. He also made detailed recom-
mendations concerning the Library’s resources, technical services,
administration and personnel.