Page 60 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 27

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54
J
e w i s h
B
o o k
A
n n u a l
Lack of qualified staff as well as increasing demands on the vario
facilities of the Library of Congress often cause lengthy delays
the cataloguing of the PL-480 material. This results in large cat
loguing arrearages in libraries waiting for Library of Congre
cards.
The success of such a program is greatly dependent upon t
quality of the selection process. The criteria for “research valu
are broad, vague and subject to varying interpretations. T o t
credit of the Program, a relatively comprehensive and inclusi
approach has usually been pursued. Items of no interest may ofte
be sent to participating libraries, but recipients are under no oblig
tion to retain all material sent; therefore, this has not been a pro
lem. Of greater concern is the failure to acquire an item of intere
to a participating library. Where differences in interpretation
selection criteria have arisen, they have often been resolved i
favor of the library requesting a certain item. Even in certai
categories of material usually considered beyond the scope of t
program—reprints, albums, text-books, and translations—the Pr
gram administration has been most accommodating and, at t
request of participants, has included many such items.
The Program’s administration has been receptive to suggestio
from participating libraries in so far as the budget permitte
This resulted, for example, in the acquisition for all libraries
the costly facsimile edition of the “Bird’s Head Haggadah.” Ho
ever, experience has shown that, despite the outstanding effor
of the selection team, some items either escape its attention o
are excluded as irrelevant or of no interest. Consequently,
continuous check on various bibliographic sources is necessary
assure the acquisition of all items of value. Assuredly, the effectiv
ness of the Program would be enhanced with greater cooperatio
on the part of the participating libraries. However, largely due
a critical shortage of qualified staff, the participants have had
content themselves, with the exception of Harvard and Hebre
Union College, with a rather passive role in the developme
and refinement of this Program.
A major problem facing any government subsidized progra
such as this one is a special vulnerability to changes in gover
mental policy or to international affairs. Thus, the political situ
tion in Poland and Burma has prevented the Library of Congre
from even setting up a program in these countries. The Progra
in the United Arab Republic is at a virtual standstill due to t
severing of diplomatic relations between the United Arab Repu
lic and the United States in 1967. Regrettably, at the time of th
writing the Israel Program is imperiled by the vicissitudes of go
ernmental budgeting. In March 1969, participants were advised b
the Library of Congress that Israeli currency owned by the Unite