Page 60 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 24

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52
J
e w i s h
B
o o k
A
n n u a l
for the adult rather than the child. While children account for
more than half of the circulation in public libraries in this
country according to official United States statistics, the trend
is even more pronounced in Jewish libraries. Often the genesis
of a library derives from a desire to make books available to
children in the religious school; therefore, most of the library’s
activities are directed toward the child rather than the adult
reader. Whether or not this is a healthy phenomenon is debat­
able. Librarians, as well as rabbis and educators, may well ponder
the future o f a Jewish community whose reading, along with
Jewish education and religious affiliation, end in the early teens.
On the other side of the picture, certain improvements have
been effected over the years. One change which may be noted
is the increased emphasis on the Judaic nature of the book
collection. The 1947 Jewish Book Council survey showed that
over 53% of the books in center libraries were non-Jewish,
while only
1 2
% in the non-center libraries were in this category.
In the Jewish Library Association survey, all but 11 of the 92
libraries had collections exclusively or predominantly of Jewish
interest. Even greater emphasis on Judaica is noted in the
libraries included in the Chaikind study. The Jewish Book
Council of America, which awards citations to Jewish libraries
meeting certain standards, requires, among other things, that
they contain a minimum of 1,000 books o f Jewish interest and
an accession of not less than 100 books of Jewish interest during
the preceding year.
Another encouraging note is the increase in the average size
of the book collection. The total is still small in terms of absolute
figures, the greatest number in the JLA survey being found in
the 1,500-4,000 range, but this represents a substantial gain over
earlier findings.
The most encouraging hope for the future, however, is to be
found in the Jewish library profession as a whole, rather than
in changes in individual libraries. The realization has grown in
recent years that solving the many problems confronting the
Jewish library can best be achieved on a unified, organized basis.
A nation wide, centralized organization to which all libraries
and librarians can turn for information and assistance provides
the logical answer.
Local Jewish library organizations have existed for a number
of years in several of the larger Jewish communities, notably in
New York, Cleveland, and Philadelphia. In New York the Jewish
Librarians’ Association was established in 1946. Its distinguished
membership included librarians of all the great scholarly libraries
in the country. Among the institutions on its rolls are the
libraries of the Jewish Theological Seminary, the Hebrew Union