Conference Proceeding: Using Libraries as Jewish Art and Design Museums

Most library users are looking to find content. However, Hillel often uses Judaica collections superficially, examining how the books look and feel. By doing so, he can gain inspiration for his work as a visual artist, as well as develop a deeper understanding of how Jews throughout history have thought about their place in the cultures they inhabited. Paying close attention to aesthetics - including typography, illustration, and overall design - we can discover historic trends in taste and style. We can see evidence of interaction between Jews and non-Jews and view the interplay between assimilationist and isolationist tendencies. We can glean insight into the creators' political and religious affiliations and sympathies. And we can see the big questions of our day reflected in artifacts from the distant past. Particularly as we explore what it means to be Jewish now, in a globalized, humanistic society, finding precedent is empowering. How can we explore our collections in new ways? What else do they have to teach us?

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