Page 26 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 30

Basic HTML Version

18
J
e w i s h
B
o o k
A
n n u a l
of 1951 that the Library’s holdings are specifically noted, and
then as an already acquired body of material. Now the Corpora­
tion possesses valuable old books, manuscripts and archives.
Though late in being legally documented, the Library was
always conscious of its responsibility to acquire and preserve
material relevant to the history of the Canadian Jewish communi­
ty. Implicit in this obligation was the mandate to make this
material available to the student and research worker. These
holdings include papers antedating the formal incorporation
of the Jewish Public Library; the personal library and papers
of the late author Reuben Brainin, a legacy from its first presi­
dent who was also editor of the Yiddish newspaper,
The Daily
Eagle;
the papers of the Montreal Yiddish poet J. I. Segal, do­
nated to the Library archives by his family; much original source
material pertaining to personalities well-known to the Jewish
community, both past and present. These papers, in both English
and Yiddish, together with many documents relating to the vari­
ous charitable organizations and synagogues of Montreal form
the basis of the Library’s archives.
Source material of much value, that otherwise would have
been lost to the community, has been accumulated in this way.
Like the practice prevalent in other Library departments, the
knowledge and experience needed to carry out such an archives
program was sought from among the Library members and from
its director. However, no definitive archives policy was formulated;
consequently, material was acquired in an haphazard fashion
or “collected” in the form of individual items. Over the past few
years, it had become increasingly apparent to the board and
Archives Committee of the Library that such an approach no
longer met the requirements of a community increasingly aware
of its past.
In 1967, the Archives Committee was requested to draft an
archives management policy and to begin accessioning and sort­
ing a large backlog of material. This work has been accomplished
under the supervision of committee members who have a work­
ing knowledge of archival procedures. Volunteers were trained,
though one major difficulty was to find workers fluent in Hebrew
and Yiddish to deal with the material in these languages, in
addition to the volunteers in the English speaking group. How­
ever, work did progress; the backlog of over four hundred boxes
was sorted and listing was begun by the end of 1970.
A tape recording project is under way and photographs are
being taken of buildings and sites important to the history of the
Jewish community. An orderly program of planned acquisitions
is being instituted, which includes microfilm material. Further