An Israel Travelogue

When temperatures hit the 30s °C (that’s 80s-90s °F), it’s time to leave my air-conditioned, windowless library located two floors underground in the Givat Shaul neighborhood of Jerusalem, and go touring.

This is how I found myself on an air-conditioned tour bus this past summer with former New Yorker and veteran tour guide Shalom Pollack, traveling through the southern Hevron hills, where the heat was in the low 40s °C (104-106 °F) in the shade!

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Vilna Discovery: Planning a Workshop

On the 8th of January 2018, the Association for Jewish Libraries’ New York chapter, NYMA (AJL-NYMA), held its annual Reference Workshop on the Vilna Discovery of lost Jewish documents at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research.

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Front entrance of YIVO by Gryffindor – This panoramic image was created with Autostitch. Stitched images may differ from reality., Public Domain.

 

As a Judaica Librarian I have been attending these workshops for years, but this one was special. It was the first one I helped put together as Reference Workshop Co-coordinator for AJL-NYMA. I accepted the position shortly after the AJL annual conference last year and naturally had no idea what I was going to do or how to do it! Continue reading

Which Way to the Bookstore? Contains new and updated information.

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If I had a nickel for every time a student walked into the Midtown library expecting to buy a textbook, I’d have a pocketful of change. Why do they come to this place, where shelves are lined with so many books, yet I cannot sell them a single one? Doesn’t that sound like a bibliophile’s bad riddle? (OK. Here’s one. What do you get when a librarian tosses a billion books into the ocean? …A title wave!) No seriously, where is the bookstore? Continue reading

2017 Customer Satisfaction Survey: Addressing Your Concerns (Part II)

In this second part of the Customer Satisfaction Survey, we will share with you some of your feedback and concerns.

Some of your responses to “What do you like most about the library?” are as follows:

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The friendly and helpful library staff

Online access to scholarly journals

Large selection of databases

Organized and quiet place to study  

That it is accessible from my home workplace

Since the main purpose of the annual survey is to give our users an opportunity to hear their voices, we also asked, “What do you least like about the library?”

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Fostering Critical Thinking and Information Literacy Skills: An Inquiry into What Librarians Could Do to Support Students

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Since I have been teaching critical thinking and informal logic online for a number of years now (and I have a first-hand account of how both courses are beneficial for students in many different ways), as well as having taught several library orientations at Touro College, I have become curious regarding how aspects of critical thinking skills could be fostered and applied to the arena of information literacy, and how both aspects could be beneficial to our students’ information needs.  And rather than relying on the information literacy prevalent on various websites, I want to explore the topic with few outside sources, free of influence from such sites.  Hence, the aim of this short essay is an inquiry into the overlap and/or intersection between information literacy, critical thinking, and the ways such an inquiry into both areas could be beneficial to our students.

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December 21: Winter and Summer Solstices

December 21st marks the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere. This astronomical event represents the time of the year when the path traveled by the sun is the farthest away from the northern part of the globe. Because the sun is traveling the shortest path through the sky, this is the day with the longest night in the year.

The figure below shows the earth’s orbit around the sun. On the right side, we can see that the earth’s inclination during the winter solstice causes the sun rays to shift southward, being directly overhead at the Tropic of Capricorn. After the winter solstice, the sunlight starts to increase again.

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Winter solstice, 2017

During this time of the year, we have cold, snow, hot beverages, family gatherings, holiday decorations… However, we can see by the figure above that while the sun rays are the farthest away from the northern hemisphere, they are the closest to the southern hemisphere. Our winter solstice is the summer solstice in the southern part of our planet. So how different is this time of the year south of the Equator?

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Chanukah: The Festival of Lights

A Chanukah menorah (or chanukia) (CC0 image via Wikipedia)
A Chanukah Menorah, or Chanukia (CC0 image via Wikipedia)

Chanukah, also known as the Festival of Rededication, or the Festival of Lights, is an eight-day holiday that generally falls sometime in December (in the Hebrew calendar, the 25th of Kislev).  It celebrates the rededication of the Holy Temple after the successful revolt of the Maccabees against the Seleucid Empire. To rededicate the Temple, oil was needed to relight the menorah inside, and there was very little left – only enough to burn for one day.  However, the oil used burned for eight days, and to celebrate this, a festival was created – Chanukah. Continue reading

Celebrating Sukkot

A sukkah from inside. (From Wikimedia user Muu-karhu)
A sukkah from inside (via Wikimedia user Muu-karhu)

After the solemnity and introspection of the High Holy Days, Sukkot, the Festival of Booths, is always a treat. Like the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, I look forward to Sukkot every year because this holiday, unlike Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, is an unaltered celebration.  After the Exodus from Egypt, the ancient Jews traveled the wilderness for forty years before reaching the land of Israel. They lived in small huts called “sukkot” during this time. The holiday of Sukkot commemorates those temporary dwellings: Orthodox Jewish families build a small hut, or Sukkah, outside the house where they eat all meals for the seven days of the holiday. Many Orthodox Jews also sleep outdoors in the Sukkah. A typical Sukkah would look something like this:

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As Seen on TV

I like to be entertained early and often. Once I dated a guy who took me to the movies weekly. I did not have strong feelings for him, but I really did love the movies. The break-up left me missing only first run feature films. It is no surprise then, when tasked with crafting a library research project, I would select a topic near and dear to my heart. I examined media, my first and only true love, and how it is related to reading choice.  Continue reading

Alcatraz: Not Just an Abandoned Prison

Alcatraz at sunset (CC image via )

Recently, I took a vacation to San Francisco, California. I had never been there before, and I have no shame: I wanted to cram as many touristy experiences possible into my week-long trip. Visit the Golden Gate Bridge? Of course! Head down to Fisherman’s Wharf? Sure! Book a ferry months in advance to visit Alcatraz? …Well, what’s so interesting about an old prison? We have one of those on the East Coast; how different could it be? I really didn’t care about hearing about Al Capone or the “Birdman” for the thousandth time (I know a few people who really like crime documentaries). What I didn’t realize was that Alcatraz has a much more complex history. Continue reading