Page 59 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 24

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W
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51
to 1965. Two additional studies were made within the last four
years: a nation wide survey of Reform school libraries in 1962
by Hannah K. Chaikind; and the other covering Conservative
congregational schools in the New York metropolitan area, com­
pleted this year by Phoebe W. Kapor.
The 1947 Jewish Book Council survey covered 49 libraries of
which 26 were in Jewish community centers and 21 mainly in
synagogues. Of the 92 libraries responding to the Jewish Library
Association questionnaire, 67 were synagogue libraries, four in
bureaus of Jewish education, three in community centers, and
the rest in various other classifications. The Weine, Chaikind,
and Kapor studies were confined to synagogue libraries. The
last two dealt with the school library, but some replies did not
differentiate between school and congregational use.
Reading these various reports made at different times and
covering different areas, what emerges as most striking are not
the differences but the similarities. The number of libraries has
greatly proliferated and various attempts have been made to
raise standards, but other factors have changed little over the
years.
The average Jewish library, whether in synagogue, center, or
school, is usually limited to one room. Most are open on a part-
time basis during hours when the school is in session. A great
many are dependent on unpaid volunteers for their personnel;
statistics vary from a low of 21% in the JLA survey which
covered all types of libraries, to 55% and 61%, respectively, in
the Chaikind and Kapor studies. Moreover, a very high per­
centage of those serving as librarians, both paid and volunteer,
are not professionally trained. While this is not always as much
of a drawback as would appear at first, since various other factors
also enter into the picture, yet, other things being equal, the
advantage o f formal training is obvious.
Even more serious than the lack of professional training is the
lack of Jewish background and education on the part of many
librarians, in contrast to the high level of general education.
This is not a failure peculiar to librarians, but rather a reflection
of conditions prevalent in the Jewish population as a whole.
Nevertheless, it cannot but affect the quality of the service
rendered.
Child Centered Libraries
Another conspicuous characteristic of most Jewish libraries is
the degree to which they are child centered. This is true despite
the fact that the greater part o f the library’s books are intended