Jewish Holocaust Centre to lend books to the public

Published in the Jewish Holocaust Centre’s The Voice newsletter

After almost thirty years in development, the Jewish Holocaust Centre library will soon be lending books to the wider public.

According to the most recent inventory conducted in 2010, the multi-lingual library holds about 9,000 books and journals and is impressive in the breadth of its collection. The collection includes a Yiddish section of about 650 books, a Holocaust in Art section, a Remembrance section, a Local Survivor Memoir section, a young literature section and an assortment of rare magazines and journals dated from World War Two.

The library is located on the second floor of the Jewish Holocaust Centre. The majority of the books have been donated by Holocaust survivors and their descendants, who want their books to be maintained and preserved.

Information Manager and Librarian Julia Reichstein said she believed the library is the only one in Australia that was founded and nurtured by Holocaust survivors.

“We don’t want the information to be kept in one community; we want it to be accessible to all

The only way to do that is to make [the library] … available to the public via traditional means [such as in-person lending and telephone bookings] and also through Internet access [online reservations and renewals accessible via a portal or through the library’s online public access catalogue],” Ms Reichstein said.

Reference Librarian Christopher Dargan noted that by not lending books to the public the library is not fulfilling the function for which it was built.

“I can understand why there was a reluctance to open the library to the public, but I think that day has passed.

“Not everyone can spend days at a time here, studying one book after another. They need to take them home”, Mr Dargan said.

Currently, the library functions in a non-lending capacity – primarily due to the concern that, if loaned, discontinued or rare books will be damaged or will not be returned. The JHC library is gearing towards digitizing the local Holocaust survivor memoirs. This will make the memoirs accessible via the library webpage and ensure their preservation. The library also hopes to reformat the memoirs to eBooks.

While the public is welcome to visit the library, browse through the collection and make enquiries pertaining to research and book recommendations, borrowing is  available only to the Jewish Holocaust Centre’s staff, guides and volunteers. Borrowing rights will be extended to the public once the library is officially designated as a public lending library.

The library is planning to lend its books to the public next year. However, a set date has not been confirmed, as it is still updating and archiving its collection.

Update: as of January 2015, a set date has yet to be confirmed

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