Aviva Astrinsky and David Gilner have been named co-Winners of the Association of Jewish Libraries (AJL) 2017 Fanny Goldstein Merit Award. The Fanny Goldstein Merit Award, named for the librarian, social activist and founder of National Jewish Book Month, is bestowed in recognition of a lifetime of loyal and ongoing contributions to the Association and to the profession of Jewish librarianship.
AJL is a partner of ATLA and they have submitted this exciting news to share with our membership. The texts of the letter of nomination received on behalf of each winner are included below and have been edited minimally for clarity.
We are delighted to name Aviva Astrinsky as a co-recipient of the Fanny Goldstein Merit Award. Her many decades of achievements in, and contributions, to the field of Judaica librarianship make her a truly worthy and exemplary candidate.
Aviva has been active in the field of Judaica Librarianship for more than 40 years, working as a librarian and Library Director at several major Jewish institutions. In her positions she pioneered the introduction of digital technologies, and modernized Judaica libraries; she has served as an officer in various professional associations and committees including our own AJL; she played a leadership role in organizing the 1998 AJL Annual Meeting Philadelphia; she is an author and editor of books and articles in the area of Judaica librarianship and bibliography.
Aviva received her BA degree from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and her MLS from the University of Cape Town, South Africa. Before coming to the United States she worked as a Librarian at the Cape Provincial Library Services, Cape Town, and as a corporate librarian at American-Israel Electronic Industries.
She came to the United States in 1978, where her first position was as a catalog Librarian at the Library of the Union Theological Seminary, followed by assuming the position of Head of Technical Services at the Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary.
In 1988 she was named Library Director at the Annenberg Research Institute in Philadelphia (formerly Dropsie College), which later merged with University of Pennsylvania to become the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. In the summer of 1999 Aviva became the Head Librarian of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research where she served for 12 years.
Aviva set herself a goal to improve and increasing access to the collections first by computerized cataloging and later by digitizing several Yiddish & Hebrew books and periodicals, including very rare Yiddish children’s books published in the USSR in the 1930’s.
Since 1984, Aviva became very active within AJL, holding several local and national positions. In 1984, she co-founded the New York chapter of AJL (NYMA) and served as its Secretary, President, and Past President from 1984-1987. In Philadelphia, she helped rejuvenate the Philadelphia chapter of AJL and was its first president. Concurrently she served for four years as the AJL Vice-President for Membership and later as President and Vice-President of the Research, Archives, and Special, Libraries (RAS) Division. She chaired the RAS Bibliography and Reference Book Award Committee and several other nominating committees. Until her retirement, Aviva remained an active member of AJL.
Aviva’s publications include “A Bibliography of South African English Novels 1930-1960” (Cape Town, 1965); “Nazi Propaganda Literature in the Library of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research: Source Materials on Modern Jewish Anti-Semitism, National Socialism and the Holocaust” (Leiden, 1998); Mattityahu Strashun, 1817-1885, Scholar, Leader and Book Collector (New York, 2001), for which she was also exhibit curator; and Library of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research: History and Highlights, with text and captions provided by Lyudmila Sholokhova and Aviva herself (New York, 2012).
We could expand much more on how crucial and important Aviva’s role has been in making Judaica resources available and accessible to the much wider world of scholarship, teaching, and research. We believe that celebrating her many achievements and contributions on the East Coast and especially her tenures at JTSA and YIVO at this year’s AJL conference in New York City has special meaning and relevance. We hope that Aviva’s family and her New York Judaica library colleagues and friends will have the opportunity to join us in honoring Aviva at the conference.
Nomination Statement submitted by Arthur Kiron, Schottenstein-Jesselson Curator of Judaica Collections, University of Pennsylvania Libraries and Heidi G. Lerner, Metadata Librarian for Hebraica and Judaica, Stanford University Libraries to the members of the Fanny Goldstein Merit Award Committee (Etta Gold, Heidi Lerner, Joyce Levine, and Aaron Taub, Chairperson) and approved by the Committee.
Dr. David J. Gilner
We are delighted to name Dr. David J. Gilner, Director of Libraries for the four campus library system of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) and Librarian of its Klau Library, Cincinnati, as a co-recipient of the Fanny Goldstein Merit Award. He truly deserves “recognition of loyal and ongoing contributions to the Association and to the profession of Jewish librarianship,” to quote the Award description on the AJL website.
Dr. Gilner has devoted a considerable amount of his time, energy, and vision to AJL and the profession as a whole. He was the President from 1998-2000, Vice-President-Elect, 1996-1998; President, Research and Special Libraries Division, 1994-1996; Chair of Book Awards Committee from 1992-1996; Vice-President for Publications, 1990-1992; Vice-President for Membership, 1986-1990; among numerous other positions. He was President of the Council on Archives and Research Libraries in Jewish Studies from 2002-2007 and was the chair of the Feinstein Lecture Committee from 2003-2007. Dr. Gilner’s articles and reviews have appeared in numerous publications such as Small Computers in Libraries, Journal of the American Oriental Society, as well as AJL Conference Proceedings.
Dr. Gilner earned a B.A. in Religion and an M.A. in Old Testament from Emory University; an M.S. in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois; and an M.Phil. in Hebrew and Cognate Studies and a Ph.D. in Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies from HUC-JIR. His dissertation explores the status and role of women in Biblical Israel. Dr. Gilner has taught biblical and Judaic studies at Wilmington College, the University of Cincinnati, and HUC-JIR. He has preached, lectured, conducted services, and led Bible study groups at numerous synagogues, churches and private homes in the Cincinnati area, and was awarded the Donald P. Black prize by Hebrew Union College for enhancing interfaith dialogue and understanding in the community. Dr. Gilner chaired the editorial boards of the journal Studies in Bibliography and Booklore and the monographic series Bibliographica Judaica and serves on the HUC-JIR Publications Committee.
Regarding support of AJL, aside from his personal service for many years, Dr. Gilner has allowed numerous HUC-JIR librarians to spend many hours on Association business, serving as officers (current count is a total of six presidents from HUC-JIR), committee chairpersons and members, and several times as convention chairpersons. He has been a mentor throughout the process, fully recognizing the importance of training new leaders for the profession. He has always been supportive of the staff members of the Klau Library, encouraging them to expand from their comfort zone and take advantage of learning opportunities. Some of these opportunities have been through AJL, some through other professional organizations, and some have been specialized seminars or workshops available locally and in other locations. All training was recognized as valuable even if not directly related to one’s current position. Dr. Gilner is graciously willing to share his knowledge and expertise. In my case, from learning how to read a catalog card (my first learning session with David) to navigating the political challenges of an academic institution and the Library’s role in relation to the institution’s mission/goals, all of the other departments and personalities, and everything in between. Following in Herbert Zafren’s footsteps, he has encouraged numerous staff members to attain a graduate level degree in Library Science, followed by an offer of employment at one of the four campus libraries.
We believe that it is especially appropriate for Dr. David J. Gilner to receive this honor from AJL, recognizing over forty-five years of service to the profession of Judaica librarianship, as he will be retiring on June 30, 2017 from his full-time positions as Director of Libraries and Librarian of the Klau Library, Cincinnati, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.
Nomination Statement submitted by Laurel S. Wolfson, Administrative Librarian, Klau Library, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Cincinnati, Ohio, to the members of the Fanny Goldstein Merit Award Committee (Etta Gold, Heidi Lerner, Joyce Levine, and Aaron Taub, Chairperson) and approved by the Committee.
The Association of Jewish Libraries promotes Jewish literacy through enhancement of libraries and library resources and through leadership for the profession and practitioners of Judaica librarianship. The Association fosters access to information, learning, teaching and research relating to Jews, Judaism, the Jewish experience and Israel. For more information, please visit www.jewishlibraries.org.