Alumna Has the Best of Both Worlds
School of Library and Information Science alumna Rachel Armin Williams, M.L.I.S. ’11, feels she has the best of worlds as a Jewish woman who serves as head librarian at Temple Israel in Akron.
“I was so lucky because I practice Judaism,” Williams said. “I minored in Judaic Studies in undergrad, so this was an easy fit. It all falls within my realm of interest. It helps me bring home great literature for my kids that they would not otherwise get in their public school experience.”
According to Williams, Temple Israel is an American Library Association (ALA)-accredited library. There are more than 5,600 books in the collection. Williams has a special project in progress: She is working to allow nonmembers of the Temple to borrow books from the private library.
“I feel the collection is valuable to someone doing research in the field of Jewish history or Jewish culture, and I'd like to make the collection accessible to nonmembers,” Williams said. “It would have to be by appointment only, and it would be a ‘closed stacks’ situation, meaning not checking out books, but doing research on site.”
You have to be a member of the Temple to use anything in the collection. Currently, Williams is in the planning stages of the project.
“In order to make it accessible, I'd have to get the entire collection online, meaning digitally catalog each item, and then become part of a consortium, such as OhioLink, where my collection would be searchable through their Library System,” Williams said. “This would take not only lots of man-hours, but a significant financial investment as well including new hardware and software, labels. I have a business plan with a timeline sent to the Temple Board and President, and we will see if I can get the funding to make it happen,” Williams explained.
Williams has worked as the part-time head librarian just over a year. Some of her daily duties consist of original card cataloging on a typewriter, running a Star Reader program for children, and content management.
“I am learning as I go. If I don't know how to do something, I reference my schoolbooks, I do Internet research, and I figure it out. I love the experience, and hope it leads to a full time special library position in the future.”