For over 60 years the Leo Baeck College has been training rabbis and educators to lead and serve Progressive Jewish communities in the UK and around the world. At the heart of all the college’s teaching and learning is our extraordinary library, containing 60 thousand volumes covering every aspect of Jewish life, thought and culture and specialising in material from the Progressive Jewish world. We work to make Jewish literature accessible today and ensure it is preserved for the future.
In the 2010s a storage area containing some of our older books flooded and books had to be piled onto emergency shelving in the main library. This meant a significant part of our collections has been inaccessible and in danger of damage as well as creating a chaotic atmosphere in the library.
Emergency shelving and cramped storage
With the grant awarded by the NLPS Trust we have been able to purchase a bespoke modular shelving system adding 50m to the library’s shelving capacity and maximising the use of our spaces.
Find space at the back of the rolling stacks, putting up and filling our new shelves
This has enabled us to begin consolidating and streamlining our historical collections, providing readers more quickly with the books they need and ensuring all our books are available. These collections hold rare and historical items including primary material from Progressive Anglo-Jewish history and items that survived the Second World War. The additional library furniture, including book ends and archival storage purchased with the grant, ensures that these collections are housed safely and securely helping the library to care for and preserve our unique collections for generations to come and preventing the need for costly conservation in the future.
Maximising the use of all our spaces
The additional shelving also creates growth space in the main library ensuring we continue to develop our collections so our readers have the contemporary material they need and important historical collections can find a home.
The library is a unique and fertile space outside the classroom and synagogue for interaction between rabbis, scholars, students and others, enabling those engaged with creating a living Judaism to interact, stimulating ideas, networks, deep learning and action. This project is helping us to reconfigure our tight spaces improving the atmosphere and environment of the library, benefitting the well-being of all our visitors and creating a welcoming, safe space for exploration and discovery.
We look forward to welcoming new and returning visitors to the library to enjoy the benefits of this project and find inspiration as well as information in our wonderful collections.