11 June 2009

Great Yiddish book migration to begin

The National Yiddish Book Center (Amherst, Massachusetts) is almost ready to begin its "Great Shlepenish," as president Aaron Lansky calls it.

His efforts have been widely written about and called "the greatest cultural rescue effort in Jewish history."

The NYBC, founded in 1980, is supported by more than 30,000 members. It is the largest and fastest-growing Jewish cultural organization in the US, and has preserved some 1.5 million Yiddish works and other modern Jewish literature with the assistance of many volunteers.

Six workers and a supervisor will take six weeks - hopefully to finish by mid-July - to move the holdings into a new secure, fireproof and climate-controlled library in the Kaplen Famly Building.

The goal of the Shlepenish is the physical and informational transfer of thousands upon thousands of Jewish texts, periodicals, and other items such as sheet music from its current location at a factory space in Holyoke to the Center's newly constructed state-of-the-art library annex at the primary Hampshire College site, whose design was modeled after Harvard's long term book storage facility and features "an airlock entrance, gasketed doors, geothermal energy and precise computer-controlled temperature and humidity"—theoretically sufficient to preserve books for 300 years or more.
The Center is asking for tax-deductible donations to help finance the expensive move - about $74,000. Donations received in excess of the goal will be used to fund innovative bibliographic and educational programs. Visit the NYBC site to contribute.

The NYBC includes sound and video collections, and the Steven Spielberg Digital Yiddish Library (founded 1998) which digitizes titles and makes available high-quality reprints.

Read more here, or click on the NYBC link above.

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