Book Preservation: Tips to Care for your Home Library

Posted on April 13th, 2016 by

– Keep things cool. Books are most comfortable at temperatures close to 65 degrees.


Our rare book collection is housed in our temperature controlled collections storage rooms.

– Turn out the lights. Direct light, particularly sunlight, can cause books to discolor and become brittle.



– Give them breathing room. Squeezing books tightly onto a shelf can cause wear and tear on the covers.

Protect covers by not squeezing volumes together

Protect covers by not squeezing volumes together

– Handle with care. Remove a book by gripping the center on either side of the spine. Tipping a book off the shelf by pulling from the top of the headband can damage the spine.

Damaged spine

Damaged spine

– Size things up. Arrange books on a shelf according to size so they can support each other. Lay large volumes flat to avoid stress on the spine.


Another peek at our rare book shelves

– Tape is not your friend. Tape causes additional problems that are difficult to reverse. Consider acid free storage containers or consult a conservator.

Tape damage

Tape damage

For more information:

Post by Collections Intern Melissa Caples.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland

Volunteer Spotlight on: Ira Askin

Posted on January 11th, 2016 by

Ira in a rare moment of relaxation.

Ira in a rare moment of relaxation.

Ira Askin has been a volunteer at the Jewish Museum of Maryland since 1992.  He works in the library and is also a member of the Board of Directors, having served as President from 1996 – 1999.  He actually began working in the basement of the Museum, before the Goodwin Library and Robert L. Weinberg Family History Center was completed inn 1996.  He remembers the space having no windows. He began working on a large accumulation of printed materials that had never been processed, found in boxes marked “UP” for un-processed. Previously, they had been housed next to the furnace, in what was then Baltimore Hebrew College. He started with miscellaneous papers, identified the contents, and put them into folders. Once this was completed, Finding Aides would be prepared and the marking on the outside of the box would be changed to “PB” for processed box. Shortly after he began, he joined the Board of Directors and then became the President.  The construction of the Library had begun prior to his term but he had the fortunate timing of presiding over the dedication.  He still sits on the Board and attends meetings and voices his opinions.  He says, “With age comes privilege” and enjoys remaining involved with many aspects of the JMM.  Ira’s current volunteer job is maintaining the Vertical Files. These files contain papers of material interest to Jews in Maryland that are not quite important enough to become accessioned into the Museum Collections. It includes mostly newspaper articles that are divided among Subject, Biographical, and Synagogue files.  He clips the materials from newspapers and individuals in the community send in items also.

Ira volunteers in the community because he feels like he is a lucky person, that his life was blessed by being born into a comfortable family.  He grew up a member of a strong family unit, his brother was 8 years his senior and his sister was 5 years his junior. He felt that his parents were able to do their best for each child since their ages were spread so far apart. Ira had an excellent education in Baltimore public schools and attended Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania.  After graduation, he was drafted and spent 3 years in the U.S. Army, 2 years stateside and 1 year overseas. He worked in the Finance Department during that time.  Upon his return to Baltimore he says he “fell into” his father’s wholesale business that sold hosiery and underwear.  The business closed in 1986.  Ira was married to his wife Myra for 68 years and one of their favorite activities was traveling, they especially loved cruises.

A very young Ira.

A very young Ira.

As a young adult, Ira participated in the Associated’s Young Leadership program and he has remained an active participant in the Jewish Community ever since.  He was an observer at the Board of Jewish Education, on the board of Jewish Family Services, a member of the Board of Directors and President at Beth El Congregation (his father-in-law was a founding member), and more.  He also volunteered as an unpaid staff member for the International Visitors Center in Baltimore for 2 years. It was an organization based out of Washington, DC.  He was responsible for arranging the international visitors agendas and accommodations while they visited Baltimore.

Ira likes to volunteer at the JMM because it keeps him busy and fulfills his need to give back to the community.  We appreciate all that he has contributed to the Museum for many, many years, to and what he will continue to accomplish in the future.

ilene cohenA blog post by Volunteer Coordinator Ilene Cohen. Every month she will be highlighting one of our fantastic JMM volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering with the JMM, drop her an email at or call 410-732-6402 x217! You can also get more information about volunteering at the Museum here.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland

Volunteer Spotlight on: Judy Tapiero

Posted on December 7th, 2015 by

Judy Tapiero is volunteering to organize the Anne Adalman Goodwin Library of the Jewish Museum of Maryland. That’s what she did in her professional life – she was a library consultant.  She organized and set up libraries for companies and associations.

She has lived in Baltimore for 10 years. Born in England, she arrived in the United States in 1956 when her family moved to Scarsdale, NY, to be near New York City, in a community with good schools.  Her father, Oskar Rabinowicz was born in Aspern, Austria near Vienna. His family moved to a small town in Czechoslovakia, then moved to England when Hitler moved into Czechoslovakia. He had joined the Zionist movement while in college. He taught Byzantine history but then became a banker and scholar when he moved to England.  He wrote the book Winston Churchill on Jewish Problems: A Half Century Survey.  The book History of Jews in Czechoslovakia was dedicated to him.  Judy labeled him quite the Renaissance man. Her father wanted her to have a profession so she attended Brandeis University.  Her mother was an accomplished sculptor who exhibited her pieces and won juried competitions. She was also involved with Friends of the Hebrew University and their synagogue.

After college, Judy moved to Montreal with her husband but couldn’t work without a visa so she pursued the Library degree program at McGill University.  When they moved to the New York area she completed the Library degree program at Rutgers.  Along came their two children, so she volunteered at their synagogue and opened their library where she facilitated Library Hour at the synagogue school library.   Once the children were older, she began in Princeton then commuted to New York City to work, setting up libraries for consulting firms.

Judy Tapiero

Library Volunteer Judy hard at work!

Very few people do exactly what Judy does. She founded a consulting firm to organize and set up libraries that someone else then runs. Her goal is to make sure each library continues. She hones the collection to make it relevant to the mission of the organization.  At the JMM, she realizes that we cannot discard any Institutional Archives and that there is more and more digital information.  Library collections are changing and she wants to assure that everything is retained in its best form. Judy describes what she is doing at the JMM as a “labor of love.” It is taking a lot of time but she is glad to donate hers.  First, she has to review what is in the data base and compare it with the card catalog. Next, she reviews all of the cards to determine which are copies (each book has 4 – 5 cards, depending upon the description).  There is an author file, title file and subject file.  Her hardest task is determining single subject cards. She endeavors to reduce the card file by half, to eliminate duplications.  There are currently ~2500 volumes, plus Hebrew and Yiddish books that are now in English.

People are increasingly interested in library contents today because it has become so much easier to search. Judy adds that the The Robert L. Weinberg Family History Center for genealogy at the JMM is very good.  She looks forward to developing that more too.  She is attempting to make everything more user friendly so that more people will use it.

She suggests that the JMM library could use an infusion of new books. Before donating books elsewhere, she hopes that members and others will consider the JMM for books having to do with Judaism and Maryland – the books must have this connection to be of use to our collection.

Her greatest surprise in volunteering at the JMM has been her discovery of some unbelievable “treasures.”  In particular, she mentioned the books with colorful fold-out maps. She is also impressed by the Museum’s collection of rare books and hopes that one day they can be put on display so that visitors will be able to appreciate them too.

If anyone reading this has a love for books like Judy, please contact Volunteer Coordinator, Ilene Cohen, as once this phase of the library project is completed, volunteers will be required to physically move things around.

ilene cohenA blog post by Volunteer Coordinator Ilene Cohen. The first Monday(ish) of every month she will be highlighting one of our fantastic JMM volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering with the JMM, drop her an email at or call 410-732-6402 x217! You can also get more information about volunteering at the Museum here.


Posted in jewish museum of maryland

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