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Judaica Collections Development Policies

Bibliographer: Arthur Kiron, 215-573-7431, kiron@pobox.upenn.edu

I. Program Information

II. Collection Description

The combined Judaica collections of the University library system, including the Library at the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies (CAJS), constitute a source of exceptional richness for Judaic Studies, in general, and for the thought and literature of Judaism (Jewish Studies) in particular.

The term "Judaica" used in this policy statement covers a range of materials in a variety of different languages and formats that relate in their subject matter preponderantly to Jews and Judaism across time and around the world. For example, poetry written by Heinrich Heine that does not explicitly address in a central way Jews or Judaism (or perhaps exhibits only minor Jewish content) would not be classified here as a work of Judaica; however, poetry by Heine about Jews or Judaism or a secondary work about Heine's poetry mainly concerned with its arguably Jewish content or about Heine's own Jewish identity (he was born Jewish and converted to Christianity), would be. Similarly, everything published in Hebrew (Hebraica) is not Judaica. So for example, a Hebrew-language work about medicine or chemistry with no substantial, specifically Jewish content, and whose only link to being Judaica is the fact that it is written in Hebrew, is not classified here as Judaica. On the other hand, clearly it is a work of Hebraica in the sense that it is written in the Hebrew language.

All Hebraica, thus, is not necessarily Judaic in content. Judaica, conversely, includes Hebraica, but is by no means limited to works written in Hebrew. In terms of Hebraica, it is important to distinguish between works of Hebraica written in the Hebrew language and in a Hebrew character set (e.g., Hayim Bialik's Hebrew poetry) versus works written in vernacular languages and dialects other than Hebrew, yet in a Hebrew character set, e.g. Aramaic, Judeo-Arabic, Judeo-Italian, Ladino and Yiddish. Both constitute Hebraica: the former in terms of language and alphabet, the latter only in terms of alphabetical characters with some admixture of Hebrew words.

Because of the multidisciplinary nature of Judaic and Jewish Studies, this collections development policy, which applies to the campus libraries only, will necessarily overlap in coverage with the policies that apply to the Library at the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies.

The Penn Libraries seeks to develop its Judaica collections on campus and at the Library at the Katz CAJS in complementary ways. The campus libraries are especially strong in and responsible for Judaic Studies in the Biblical, classical rabbinic and modern periods (i.e. ca. 1650 to the present), as well as secondary literature covering all periods which support undergraduate and graduate study. Resources for conducting intensive philological research in such areas as ancient Near Eastern languages, literatures and Semitic linguisitics are especially strong. Materials are collected with particular emphasis on the general contexts in which Jewish history and literature have been produced, such as in the ancient Near East, the Greco-Roman world, the Latin West and Eastern Orthodox geographies of early and medieval Christianity, the worlds of classical, medieval and modern Islam, the modern Middle East, Europe, Africa, Asia, including South and East Asia, Australia, as well as Latin and North America. There is some overlap by design between the campus and Library collections at the Katz CAJS in Biblical Studies. In post-Biblical (but pre-modern) Hebrew literature the general policy is for Van Pelt to acquire basic works in English and works needed to support undergraduate study, and for the Library at the Katz CAJS to acquire the specialized materials needed to support graduate study and advanced research. The Van Pelt collection is especially strong in modern Hebrew literature and has recently been developing its holdings in the field of Yiddish literature.

Van Pelt maintains the Weigle Judaica and Ancient Near Eastern Studies Reading Room (401 East), for heavily used materials in Biblical Studies and ancient Near Eastern culture. The Henry Charles Lea Collection (located in the Annenberg Rare Book and Manuscript Library in Van Pelt) is a rich source for materials on Jews and the Inquisition.

The Library of the University Museum is the major campus repository for works on the anthropology and archaeology of the ancient Near East and the Biblical world, the Fisher Fine Arts Library has an important collection on Jewish art, and the Biddle Law Library has a collection on Talmudic law.

The largest component of the University's collection in Judaic Studies can be found at the Library at the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies. The Library collection at the Katz CAJS currently totals approximately 200,000 volumes. It includes rare printed books, manuscript codices, and archaeological artifacts from a joint expedition carried out by Dropsie College and the University of Pennsylvania during the 1930s at the Mesopotamian settlement of Tepe Gawra (in contemporary northeastern Iraq). The collection is especially strong in Hebraica and in archival collections of American Judaica. In addition to the Fellows of the Center, the Library at the Katz Center serves Penn faculty and students who have need of its specialized resources . To search the Library collections at the Katz CAJS use Franklin, Penn's online catlog.

III. Guidelines for Collections Development

  1. Chronological

  2. Formats

  3. Geographical

  4. Language

  5. Publication Dates

IV. Principal Sources of Supply and major Selection Tools

V. Subjects Collected and Levels of Collecting

Subjects Collected Levels of Collecting Subject ID
Art History 3F/3F  
Folklore/Folklife 3F/4F  
Hebrew Bible and Related Literature 4F/4F  
CAJS also collects Hebrew Bible and Related Literature at a 4F level
Hebrew Language 3F/3F  
Hebrew Literature 4F/4F  
Medieval/Early Modern 3F/3F  
Modern [Includes both literature and criticism.] 4F/4F  
Holocaust Studies 3F/4F PAR137
Israel (Modern) 3F/3F  
Van Pelt collects material published in Israel at a 4F level
Jewish History    
Ancient 3F/4F  
Africa 3F/3F  
Asia 3F/3F  
Australia 3F/3F  
Europe 3F/4F  
Latin America 3F/3F  
Middle East 3F/3F  
North America 3E/4E  
Jewish Thought (e.g. philosophy, ethics, Kabbalah, Hasidism) 3F/3F PAR12
Judaism 3F/3F PAR132-135
Liturgy 2F/3F PAR140
Music 3F/3F MUS115
Rabbinic Studies (Jewish law and customs, gaonica, exegesis, responsa) 3F/3F PAR122,125
Van Pelt collects major primary sources in the original language and material in English; CAJS collects in this field at a 4 level, including more specialized primary source material and secondary literature in Hebrew.
Sephardic Languages and Literatures    
Judeo-Arabic 3F/3F  
Judeo-Persian 2F/2F  
Ladino 3F/3F  
Social Sciences 3F/3F/4F  
Yiddish Language and Literature 3Y/3Y LLL263
Zionism 3F/3F HIS379
Van Pelt collects items published in Israel at a 4F level

VI. Subjects Excluded

VII. Cooperative Arrangements and Related Collections

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