Tuesday, December 16, 2008

German Library Director Addresses Jewish Librarians' Convention

Barbara Schneider-Kempf, the Director General of the Berlin State Library in Germany, has accepted an invitation to speak at the Association of Jewish Libraries annual convention in Chicago in July, 2009. She will present the findings of the Berlin State Library's study of books stolen by the Nazis and incorporated into German libraries. According to the German newspaper Die Welt, it is estimated that up to 150,000 of the books at Berlin's Central and Regional Library headquarters are thought to have been stolen by the Nazis from Jews, freemasons, social democrats, and others persecuted under Hitler's regime. A major aim of the new research project is to identify volumes that can be restored to the original owners or their heirs.

"In keeping with our convention theme of 'Empowering Librarians for the 21st Century,' we owe this amazing opportunity to electronic communications," said AJL President Susan Dubin. "An AJL member read about the study online and posted a link to AJL's listserv; our convention committee read that posting and subsequently emailed the Berlin State Library. We're excited to be able to connect in this way, and we're so pleased that we'll soon be connecting in person."

The Association of Jewish Libraries' 44th annual convention will be held July 5-8, 2009 in Chicago, Illinois. Librarians, archivists and scholars from numerous disciplines will meet to share their interest in Judaica librarianship and related areas. Ms. Schneider-Kempf's presentation, "Stolen Books: The Third Reich's Exchange Center and the Prussian State Library,1933-1945," will be a highlight of the convention, and will complement the keynote address by Northwestern University scholar Peter Hayes who has written numerous books on the Holocaust. For more information about AJL and its convention, visit www.jewishlibraries.org.

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