Happy Chanukah!

This year, the 8 days of Chanukah will occur from the evening of December 24th to January 1st. Did you know that you can learn more about the celebration of Chanuka on the Touro College Library Guides? There are many helpful resources on the Festival of Lights and other holidays on the guide dedicated to weekly Torah readings, Parashat HaShavua Sites and Hagim. From this libguide, one can gain insight on how Chanukah fits into the constellation of all Jewish holidays throughout the year. The diverse resources on Chanukah include a link to Jacob Richman’s web directory of Educational Resources for Chanukah, Chanukah audio files of Jewish music from JNUL Sound Archives, as well as a few of my essays on the topic. Continue reading

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What is a classic?

The Great Books of the Western World (CC image by rhsmith4)
The Great Books of the Western World (CC image by rdsmith4)

As curators of written works, libraries often want to include classics in their collections. For many centuries, “the classics” referred specifically to Greek and Latin literature, either in their entirety or those by their greatest authors. Sometimes classic implies the best, works deserving the highest praise or possessing extraordinary merit, insight, substance or style. According to Cicero, a classic is like good wine, getting better with age. Alternately, “classic” can used as an antithesis to “romantic,” where classical refers to grounded in reason, whereas romantic is based on emotion, such as the categorization of Classical versus Romantic periods in instrumental music. Continue reading

On Time, from the Lander College for Women Library

"The Persistence of Memory" by Salvador Dali (image via WikiArt)
“The Persistence of Memory” by Salvador Dali (image via WikiArt)

The Lander College Library library has a clock posted in the wall that is frequently 15 minutes slow. It ticks slower than it should and needs to be reset every now and then. To me, this sometimes suggests a magical realm of the library where time can be transcended noetically, in one’s mind. Continue reading

The Digitization of Primary Sources

Digitization of a Dunhuang manuscript in the IDP UK studio (CC Image by the International Dunhuang Project)
Digitization of a Dunhuang manuscript in the IDP UK studio (CC Image by the International Dunhuang Project)

The humanities have been particularly affected in a positive way by the digital revolution. Unique and previously unpublished primary archival manuscripts, letters, autobiographies, and other source materials are being digitized at an accelerating rate, increasing access and allowing students as well as scholars a unique opportunity to make original contributions. With online and often open access to newly digitized materials, people have the chance to look directly at primary materials rather than relying on secondary sources, and make novel observations and analyses, contributing to the scholarly discourse.  Continue reading

The Poetic Art of Weeding Books

No, not that kind of weeding! (CC image by Barbara Carr)
No, not that kind of weeding! (CC image by Barbara Carr)

At the Lander College for Women’s library, an ongoing weeding project is in effect to withdraw books. This reevaluation accomplishes a number of goals. It allows the library to make room on the shelves for new materials and to recycle books to where they will do the most good, either by reassigning them to a new location or donating them to Better World Books. Continue reading

To Lend or Not To Lend Books?

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Reading is a virtue, but tradition is divided on the relative merits of borrowing, lending, and purchasing books.

In Judaism, it is often considered a great virtue to lend Jewish books. Some sages of the Talmud interpreted the verse “Happy are they that do righteousness” (Psalms 106:3) as referring to those who write books and lend them. Rabbi Yehuda ha-Hasid of Regensburg in the 13th century taught that the reward for those who lend books to their students in the world to come which will be as great as if they themselves had studied from those texts since they were the vehicles who enabled knowledge to be learned by the borrowers. Continue reading

In celebration of Jewish Book Month: Reverence for books in the Jewish tradition

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Jewish Book Month poster, 2014

Reverence and love for Jewish books, as vehicles of transmission of sacred teachings and knowledge and expanding consciousness (mogen gedolut), is found throughout Jewish law and custom.  Many great rabbinic sages note the importance of cherishing Jewish texts, as illustrated by the following remarks: Continue reading

Presentations from the LCW Jewish Studies program

"Dead Sea Scroll Scholar Examination" by Habermann, Abraham Meir, 1901- - http://archive.org/details/scrollsfromdeser00habeuoft. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dead_Sea_Scroll_Scholar_Examination.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Dead_Sea_Scroll_Scholar_Examination.jpg
“Dead Sea Scroll Scholar Examination” by Habermann, Abraham Meir, 1901– (CC0 image via Wikimedia Commons)

The LibGuides system has given Touro Libraries a one-stop location to highlight a handful of the best bets for researching a variety of subjects, but it also allows us to provide more in-depth coverage in our areas of expertise. Continue reading