Publications: Jewish Caucus Newsletter

Forty two years ago, at the 1976 Midwinter Convention, the recently established Jewish Librarians Caucus (now Jewish Information Committee) also founded a publication which would serve as an information rich resource on world issues from a Jewish perspective and issues affecting Jewish librarians and their communities. Other archival holdings also document a history of Jewish librarian leadership.

Read on to learn more about the Jewish Caucus Newsletter!

For the first five years of the Newsletter‘s existence, the publication expanded from stating the Jewish Caucus’s purposes, as seen in the first issue (above), to a growing publication with regular features including bibliographies, news on international Jewish librarians and libraries, essays about Jewish librarianship, book reviews, and rich debates on issues impacting Jewish librarianship. The first volume includes a hand-drawn masthead, prominently featuring the then affiliated organization’s acronym. The second volume’s masthead, also featuring the new title Jewish Librarians Caucus Newsletter, experimented with sans serif letterforms and hand drawn logos featuring either a dreidel (see: Volume 2, Number 1) or a scale of justice (see above: Volume 2, Number 2). From 1977 through 1980, the Newsletter was produced under editor Cookie Lewis-Soldinger.

During the late 1970s, the cover of The Jewish Librarians Caucus Newsletter alternated from caucus and conference reports to presidential messages. Presidential messages highlighted significant Jewish librarian concerns, including the challenges of organizing conference and convention events which did not conflict with Jewish (as well as Samaritan and some Christian) attendees who followed Shabbos (also Shabbat or Sabbath) and refrain from work activities on the seventh day of the week.

* Research tip: Presidential messages can be handy sources for researchers interested in identifying significant points of interest at the time of publication.

The summer and fall 1980 issue might be the first time that Hebrew alphabet was featured on the cover, although it was used inside multiple issues previously. At the same time, the stylized Star of David Newsletter masthead logo (as seen above) had since become standardized and prominently shining brightly in the top right corner of each issue.

The early 1980s saw significant leadership change too. In 1981, the Newsletter was produced under editor Donald Altschiller. While in 1982, long-time Caucus president Susan Kamm had stepped down and Susan Freiband would take her place. Concurrently, from 1982 until 1984, Lillian Kahn was Editor and Edward Bayone was associate editor.

By 1985, Stephen Karetzky was the editor, and the publication changed names to The International Society of Jewish Librarians Newsletter. At the same time, Susan Freiband stepped down to succeed David Cohen as the new head of the Ethnic Materials Information Exchange Round Table (Record Group 56), and Annette Blank was the new ISJL chair. The new layout featured the table of contents on the cover, while publication included an increase in reproductions of articles from other Jewish publications on global issues impacting Jewish librarians and their communities.

*Research tip: When searching for articles from publications which may be out-of-print (or dare we say “not preserved in an archives”), researchers might find representative samples of articles reprinted in concurrent publications. Sometimes, for archival research of old publications, those republications are the only extant record of some writers and editors.

Just two years later, the organization had voted to join EMIERT as a task force and the publication’s masthead reflected that change in its new title Jewish Librarians Task Force Newsletter (as seen above). Although current A.L.A. Archives holdings stop at 1985, the Jewish Librarians Task Force (today’s Jewish Information Committee) continues to lead as a clearinghouse for information and forums on issues impacting Jewish librarianship and Jewish library community members everywhere.

*Research tip: sometimes, significant publication title changes or layout changes may be accompanied by a brief history of changes in an organization. When reading historical publications, be sure to read issues of noticeably different issues, for more information on the organizational changes behind the design changes.

Within a decade, the ambitious organization of Jewish librarian leadership can be followed through the subsequently produced newsletter. From the Jewish Caucus Newsletter to the Jewish Librarian Caucus Newsletter to the International Society of Jewish Librarians Newsletter to the Jewish Librarians Task Force Newsletter, the second century of A.L.A. leadership saw a growth in organized Jewish leadership, and you can read more about this and more at your friendly A.L.A. Archives.

Copies Available at Your ALA Archives

Physical copies of the publications are available for viewing at the ALA Archives. Please view the Record Series 56/41/10 database record entry, for more information too.

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