Creating a Judaica Library: A case study of the University of Maryland

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Before 1990 the Judaica collection at Maryland was small and insignificant. Today it is large and growing, and increasingly important. Aided by generous donations from local Jewish philanthropists, we have been able to purchase Israeli publications, large numbers of old, rare, and out-of-print materials from estates and other libraries, the latest electronic resources, and microform collections of primary documents. Indeed, the University of Maryland Libraries is building a Judaica collection that will be a major resource for the Washington D.C. metropolitan area.

The challenges of building a collection include finding pioneering ways of processing large amounts of material and handling the backlog; disposing of unwanted duplicates; working within space constraints; teaching students (and sometimes teaching faculty) to use library resources effectively, among many others. The great opportunities have come in the collaboration between the Libraries, donors, and Jewish Studies faculty on campus. The collection is strong because it is the result of a fruitful partnership.

My paper will describe how the University of Maryland Libraries, meeting challenges and taking advantage of opportunities, have assembled one of the best Judaica collections in the mid-Atlantic region.