Digitization Projects History

Digitization of the library collection of  the Leo Baeck Institute started with the  digitization of parts of the rare book collection in 2005 thanks to a generous grant from the Metropolitan New York Library Council  (METRO). In January 2005, METRO had launched its Digitization Grant Program as an effort to support digitization projects involving significant collections held by METRO member libraries in New York City and Westchester County. This initiative was and is supported in part by funds from the New York State Regional Bibliographic Databases Program.

A second Metro Grant provided funds to digitize a collection of rare  artist portfolios in 2008.

Private digitization funds were used to digitize important 16th century texts from “The Rare Book Collection of Frank L. Herz.”  This collection focuses on the famous Renaissance controversy between the Christian Hebraist Johannes Reuchlin and the anti-Jewish agitator Johannes Pfefferkorn, who was trying to lobby for the destruction of all Jewish books.

Another privately funded project was the digitization of a collection of books designed by Ephraim Moses Lilien (1874-1925) an internationally renowned Austrian illustrator and printmaker who is often considered as the most prominent Jewish artist to be associated with Art Noveau or Jugendstil.

The Cahnman Foundation, New York, funded the acquisition and digitization of  “The Library of Book Designs by George Salter (1897-1967).”  For background on this project, please see this brief interview with Prof. Thomas Hansen, who collected the 300 books, book covers, and individual graphics.

In 2011 we were awarded a joint NEH/DFG grant together with the Judaica Collection at the University in Frankfurt to add books to the so-called Freimann Collection. The $180,000 grant allowed the LBI library to digitize about 1,000 books that have been identified as missing from the Frankfurt Library’s Judaica collection as reported in the New York Times. The project was successfully completed in 2014. The project is described in this 2015 IFLA article: The challenges of reconstructing cultural heritage: An international digital collaboration.

In 2012 we digitized Aufbau,  the leading exile journal for German-speaking Jews, which was published between 1934 and 2004.  The project was funded by the Metropolitan New York Library Council.

In 2012,  the LBI library also started to digitize other titles from its rich periodicals collections, they can be accessed via the LBI Library Online Periodical Collection portal at Internet Archives as well as through DigiBaeck.  Funding was provided by the Metropolitan New York Library Council and private donors and the periodicals were digitized from existing microfilms. -Since 2017, the Gruss Lipper Digital Laboratory at the Center for Jewish History has digitized 110 periodical titles directly from the original periodicals.
In addition, the LBI Library is pursuing grant application together with the Judaica Collection in Frankfurt to merge the LBI digitized periodicals with the Frankfurt Compact Memory Portal. We were able to add about  60 digitized periodicals from the collections of the Leo Baeck Institute  to the Compact Memory Portal in 2018.

As of November 2018, 207 periodicals have been digitized and are accessible online; about 50 additional titles are in process.

Send questions or comments regarding the LBI Library digitization projects to Renate Evers, Director of Collections, at revers@lbi.cjh.org

Last Updated 11/2018