From the Montreal Gazette:
The [Jewish Public] Library has been many things to many people since Yiddish-speaking immigrants founded it 97 years ago as a place to learn, to read and borrow books, gather to discuss them and meet their authors. Along the way it has grown considerably, developed a thriving children’s library, assumed an online presence (www.jewishpubliclibrary.org) and acquired an international reputation.
A not-inconsiderable amount of that growth has taken place on the watch of Eva Raby, who retires from the library in September after 28 years – the past 11 as executive director.
The library has been called a jewel in the crown of the Jewish community. While it is a Jewish institution and most of its 6,000 or so members are Jewish, it’s open to everyone. It boasts the largest circulating collection of Judaica in North America and books and services in English, French, Yiddish, Hebrew and Russian, but also stocks bestsellers, magazines and DVDs.
The role of libraries and librarians has changed considerably since Raby, 68, earned her master’s in library science from Simmons College in Boston in 1965, “so much so that the need for our profession and our institutions has been called into question,” she said in May, on receiving the Quebec Library Association’s Anne Galler Award for her leadership and dedication. “If we can get all the information we want online, who needs the library? Who needs librarians?”
And yet, she is energized by the possibilities for both. “There’s such a glut of information out there in the virtual world that someone has to determine provenance and help separate the chaff from the wheat … Who better than the professional librarian?”
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