Tales from the teche – Internet Librarian 2011

Brown pelicans at Fisherman's Wharf in Monterey

Brown pelicans at Fisherman's Wharf in Monterey

I just returned from Monterey California where once again librarians gathered from all over the country to discuss the latest in technology that affects our work and our world.

As in most years, there were a couple of hot topics that seemed to dominate the convention.  This year, the topics were e-books and Google (and other search engine issues)

E-books have been a hot topic at the HUC-JIR library too.  We’ve been exploring  the many challenges of adding e-books to our collection.  The number of options is rather mind-boggling.  I’m very curious if and how our readers read e-books.  Do you read them at the your computer? download to a reader? or a tablet? Buy from a bookstore? Checkout from your public library? Do you read fiction or non-fiction in a e-book? is it a different experience?  Enquiring librarians want to know!

But what I really learned the most about is news about Google; some fun, some scary.

Beginning with the fun stuff.  Google has a new feature called ngrams.  They taken their massive collection of digitized books and indexed many of the words over time.  You can map how word usage has changed over time.  For example, this graph shows how mentions of Jews, Hebrews, and Israelites have appeared in literature from 1800-2000.

Another interesting feature is public data You can access many different sets of data about population, retail, health, energy, economy, etc. and create charts and graphs to save and export.

Now onto the scary. Big Brother is not only watching you, he is selling data about you to many buyers.  Many different companies (including Google and Amazon) track your online activity; what you search, where you click.  One way to find out who is tracking you is by looking at www.Ghostery.com  The business model for google is that you are the product that they sell to advertisers.

This not only affects the advertising that appears on the sidebars, but your actual search results.  Google remembers your search habits and delivers results based on that history.  So if you and a dozen of your friends do the exact same search, you will get very different results. And probably, the first 100 or so results will have be sophisticated spam pushed to the top by companies that specialize in SEO (search engine optimization) companies.

Some options for “cleaner” tracking free searching are: DuckDuckgo, Scroogle, or Blekko.

I’m hoping to be able to implement some of the other tips and tricks I learned into the library website.


Rare Mahzorim at your Fingertips

At this time of year, many of us are spending much time with our mahzor. While many of us are using the Gates of Repentance, Birnbaum or Koren, (I use the excellent Goldschmidt critical edition) many variations of the liturgy exist in manuscripts in the HUC collection and beyond.

Not long ago, using manuscripts for liturgy research involved traveling to rare book rooms around the world or looking at microfilm in the basement of the National Library of Israel (Department of Manuscripts and The Institute of Microfilmed Hebrew Manuscripts – National Library). Progressively, the digitization of Hebrew manuscripts gives librarians and scholars the opportunity to view manuscripts without leaving one’s chair. The manuscripts or Jewish prayer books are a great resource for Jewish art, liturgy, history and more.  Entering “mahzor” or “siddur” into Google gives you the Wikipedia articles (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Machzor and  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siddur), which provide a good introduction to the mahzor and siddur.Once you get oriented, it is time to begin seeing the world of Jewish liturgy on the Web.

images from Worms mazhor

Worms Mazhor

You may want to start with the National Library of Israel manuscript collection website that has a few good examples of mahzorim, including the famous Worms Mahzor, copied in 1272.

image from Nuremberg mahzor

Nuremberg mahzor

There is also the beautifully illustrated Nuremberg Mahzor copied in 1331. The website includes an introduction to the manuscripts as well as scholarly articles related to them. (http://www.jnul.huji.ac.il/dl/mss/worms/intro_heb.html and http://jnul.huji.ac.il/dl/mss-pr/mahzor-nuremberg/intro.html)

Another website that includes many manuscripts, including mahzorim, is the Braginsky collection. This is a must-see website for anyone interested in manuscripts. This private collection includes beautifully illustrated manuscripts of Ketubot, Passover Hagadot, Megilot Esther and more. The website allows you to englarge the high-resolution images to see a very fine level of detail.

Another research tool for finding rare books is the HebrewBooks.org website. Just type in Mahzor using the virtual Hebrew keyboard and find hundreds of titles which can all be viewed online or downloaded. Dozens of these mahzorim are from the 16thcentury, which are very valuable in liturgical study.

However, for those of you who prefer to see and touch the manuscripts (like me), the Klau Library in Cincinnati has a good collection of mahzorim including some from the 14thcentury.

Shana Tova!

When We Remembered Zion

“When We Remembered Zion”
“בזכרנו את ציון”
(Psalms, 137:1)

“Zion” in Jewish scripture [mentioned 108 times] is sometimes the Holy City with its sacred associations, sometimes the sorrowful Land of Israel awaiting the return of her exiled children. The yearning for Zion in its religious, literary and political forms found expression in travel & photo books, Hebrew primers, pilgrimage diaries and religious pamphlets.
Our new display reflects some of the Frances-Henry Library’s holdings of this literature.

AUTHOR Gordon, Benjamin Lee, 1870-1965.
TITLE New Judea ; Jewish life in modern Palestine and Egypt / by Benjamin L. Gordon. PUBLICATION Philadelphia : J. H. Greenstone, 1919.

Marcos Regalsky "What I saw in the land of Israel" (Yiddish)

Marcos Regalsky "What I saw in the land of Israel" (Yiddish)

AUTHOR Regalsky, Marcos, 1885-1959.
TITLE ‏וואס איך האב געזען אין ארץ-ישראל /‏ ‏מ. רעגאלסקי.
PUBLICATION ‏בוענאס אײרעס :‏ ‏עבודה,‏ ‏1936.
(What I Saw in the Land of Israel. Buenos Aires, 1936.)

AUTHOR Marmorosch, A.
TITLE Alte und neue Stätten in Palästina und Südsyrien ; ein moderner Führer / von A. Marmorosch.
PUBLICATION Jerusalem ; Buchdruckerei Azriel, 1931.
(Old and new places in Palestine and southern Syria, a modern guide. Jerusalem, 1931)

AUTHOR MacGregor, John, 1825-1892.
TITLE The Rob Roy on the Jordan, Nile, Red Sea, and Gennesareth, etc. : A canoe cruise in Palestine and Egypt and the waters of Damascus / By J. Macgregor…with maps and illustrations. EDITION 7th ed.
PUBLICATION London : John Murray, 1886.

AUTHOR Buckingham, James Silk,
TITLE Reisen durch Syrien und Palestina …
PUBLICATION Weimar : Verlage des Landes – Industrie, 1827-28.
(Traveling through Syria and Palestine. Weimar, Germany, 1827/28)

AUTHOR Neil, James,
TITLE Palestine explored : with a view to its present natural features, and to the prevailing manners, customs, rites, and colloquial expressions of its people, which throw light on the figurative language of the Bible / by James Neil. EDITION 6th ed.
PUBLICATION London : J. Nisbet, [1881?]

We Remembered Zion case

exhibit case

AUTHOR Katznelson-Shazar, Rachel, 1888-1975
TITLE Arbeiterinnen erzählen : Kampf und Leben in Erez Jisrael / [comp. by R.K. Rubaschoff ; tr. from the Hebrew by R. Freier] ; Hrsg. vom Hechaluz, Deutscher Landesverband.
PUBLICATION Berlin : “Kedem”, 1935.
(Workers’ stories: struggle and life in Eretz Yisrael. Berlin, 1935)

AUTHOR Harry, Myriam.
TITLE A springtide in Palestine / by Myriam Harry.
PUBLICATION London : E. Benn Ltd., 1924.

AUTHOR Berḳman, Yitsḥaḳ.
TITLE בארצנו : מסע לארץ ישראל (עם ציורים) / יצחק ברקמן.
PUBLICATION ורשה : ניצוצות, תרפ”ב [1922 or 1921] DESCRIPTION 152 p. : ill. ; 21 cm. SERIES STATEMENT ביבליותיקה לילדים ולנערים ; 3
(In our land: a journey to Eretz Yisrael [with pictures]. Warsaw, 1921)

AUTHOR Klinov, I.
TITLE משוט בישראל : אלבום.
PUBLICATION תל-אביב : הוצאת ״לעם״, [1950] 711.
English, French and Hebrew. In a metal bookholder with inscribed title: Encyclopaedia of Israel in pictures.
(Traveling in Israel: a picture album. Tel Aviv, 1950)

AUTHOR Fyvel, T. R. 1907-1985.
TITLE This is Israel / 86 photographs by Boris Kowadlo ; text by T.R. Fyvel [pseud.] PUBLICATION Oxford : B. Cassirer ; Tel Aviv : Tevel Pub. Co., [n.d.]

AUTHOR Belkind, Israel, 1861-1929.
TITLE ארץ ישראל : ספר למוד גיאוגרפיה של ארצנו / ישראל בלקינד.
PUBLICATION ניו-יורק : הוצאת המאיר, 1919.
(Eretz Yisrael: a geography textbook of our land. New York, 1919)

AUTHOR Sharnopolsky, Samuel.
TITLE מורה-דרך לארץ ישראל / ש. שרנופולסקי.
PUBLICATION תל-אביב : דפוס השחר,1930
(A guide to Eretz Yisrael. Tel Aviv, 1930)

Title page of Mencken's Erez Israel

Title page of Mencken's Erez Israel

AUTHOR Mencken, H. L. 1880-1956.
TITLE Erez Israel / by H.L. Mencken.
PUBLICATION [N.Y.: B.P. Safran], 1935.
Reprinted from the Evening Sun, Baltimore.
“Twenty five copies, for presentation only, printed by B.P. Safran at The New school [for social research, New York. Alvin Johnson, director]”

TITLE Journeys to the Promised Land / edited by Nachman Ran.
PUBLICATION New York : Portland House : Distributed by Crown Publishers, 1989, c1988.

AUTHOR Sokolow, Nahum, 1859-1936.
TITLE ארץ חמדה, כולל ידיעת גלילות אה”ק על פי גדולי התיירים. PUBLICATION ווארשא, בדפוס יצחק גאלדמאן, תרמ”ה [1885]
(Land of yearning, Warsaw, 1885)

Title page of Benjamin of Tudela

Travels of Benjamin of Tudela

AUTHOR Benjamin of Tudela, 12th cent.
TITLE Beniamini Tvdelensis itinerarivm : ex versione Benedicti Ariae Montani. Svbiectae svnt descriptiones Mechae et Medinae-Alnabi ex itinerariis Lvdovici Vartomanni et Iohannis Wildii…
PUBLICATION Lipsiae : Ioann. Michael. Ludov. Tevbner, 1764.
(The travels of Benjamin of Tudela)

Banned Books Week Again!

Two years ago we put together a small display of banned books at the Frances-Henry Library. We focused on censorship imposed on  Jewish world texts, whether exercised by outsiders who banned, burned and “edited” Jewish sacred and secular texts, or by insiders; rabbis, librarians, teachers who stopped short of burning books, but did not shy away from banishing, banning and censoring books that they deemed blasphemous, inappropriate, and sacrilegious.

This year, as the Banned Books Week approaches (September 24-October 1), I find myself, once again, puzzled by the fact that more than 500 years after the invention of moveable print, and two decades of a constantly expanding Internet, we still need to remind ourselves that banning books is almost as common as publishing them, and that some people and institutions are still threatened by the endless possibilities of open access and the freedom to read.


Exhibit for Banned Books Week

Exhibit in the Frances-Henry Library


The books I chose to display are my own, part of a collection I use when I teach about censorship and the power of reading. You, too, have some banned books in your libraries. Just look at the lists published by the American Library Association at: http://www.ala.org/ala/issuesadvocacy/banned/bannedbooksweek/index.cfm

I guarantee that you will find some old friends listed.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852)

Decameron (1350-1353)

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884/1885)

Harry Potter (1997-2007)

Fahrenheit 451 (1953)

Clockwork Orange (1962)

Animal Farm (1945)

What’s Wrong (2000)