Page 122 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 36

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ERWIN OFFENBACHER
The Jewish Studies Microfiche Project
In
t h e
w ak e
o f
t h e
H
o lo c a u st
,
two significant facts became
apparent: Many Jewish books and periodicals were no longer
available while the interest in Judaism and its heritage spread.
In Israel, the United States and even in countries like Germany
new departments for Jewish studies were set up in universities
and colleges all of which had to start their libraries from scratch.
Reprints were expensive and single copies even more so. Each
institution sorely felt the lack of reading material and sources
for research. A concentrated effort became necessary.
Librarians and archivists, who were responsible for the
spiritual heritage entrusted to them, became aware tha t even
existing publications had begun to disintegrate because of the
combined influences of wear and tear and chemically poor print-
ing paper. Gradually, also, the space needed for stocking all
the material required for higher learning and research had
become alarmingly cramped. Here, too, a basic solution was
required.
In similar cases, the production of microforms and their use
in conjunction with micro-readers had answered the need. In-
creasingly, since World War II, microfilms and later microfiches
were introduced to overcome the difficulties encountered be-
cause of missing or deteriorating sources. I t will be recalled that
microfiches are transparent sheets 4 by 6 inches in size, contain-
ing at least 60 microcopies of book pages. Since the book or
periodical title appears at the head of each sheet, it can easily
be identified.
Nevertheless, there was still some hesitation to use microforms,
for it could not be denied that the original page was preferable
to the enlarged microcopy obtained with the use of a reader.
However, because of the considerable need of republishing
originals which otherwise would remain unavailable, microcopy-
ing was resorted to, particularly when only a limited number
of copies was required. Micropublishing can become economical
even with an initial demand for as few as 10-15 copies. EvenĀ­
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