A cataloguer’s life under lockdown – Peter Salinger

It has been a great pleasure to work at Leo Baeck College Library over the last 15 months. I enjoy the library’s wide variety of material on all aspects of Jewish studies, working closely and convivially with our librarian and the library users – academics, students, independent researchers, etc. have all made me feel most welcome. Since the lockdown, I have come to appreciate how much I miss direct contact with friendly faces and physical books! I have, however, been fortunate in being able to continue working for the Library by having access to the online catalogue from home, and to catalogue items from the Library’s vast pamphlet collection, since Cassy our Librarian has made available to me scans of relevant bibliographical information of pamphlets not yet in the catalogue.

In a number of cases, the library holds items which are difficult to find elsewhere. This is not a little owing to the many items donated to the Library through the generosity of private donors over the years. An example which I found interesting was a little pamphlet by a well-known Hebrew and Jewish teacher and educator, Harold Levy, a Glaswegian whom I knew personally, who was prominent in the Anglo-Jewish world of Jewish education from the 1930s until the 1980s. Many people will know his text-book, Hebrew For All, which has graced the shelves in many Jewish homes and academic and public libraries, and has run into a number of editions. Far less well-known however, is a little pamphlet by him which I have recently catalogued, Becoming and Remaining Barmitzvah, published by the United Synagogue in 1971, and which I have not so far been able to find in any other academic or research collections in Great Britain. This is an example of one of the consolations for me, that whilst working in this surreal situation, I still have many opportunities for researching background to items which are not easily found elsewhere.