NEA taking the past into the future

Fall 2016 Graphic


Friday, October 14, 2016 1-5pm
Yiddish Book Center, Amherst, MA
Kligerman-Greenspun Performance Hall

NEA’s Fall 2016 Meeting will offer inspiring examples of how archivists, associated professionals, and record stakeholders are working to bridge gaps in collection development and accessibility of materials. With our plenary speaker, panelists, and your participation this half day symposium will explore a range of topics including:
  • Improving the accessibility of collections 
  • Adapting and expanding language to better connect with our audiences 
  • Building diverse collections that reach new users 
  • Connecting with and serving under-documented communities Fostering relationships between archivists and stakeholders, including record creators and users, outside of traditional repositories 


Due to the Sabbath, the Yiddish Book Center is closed to the public on Saturdays, and therefore our meeting is being held on a Friday this year. This change also supports NEA’s vision of the Fall Meeting as an experimental gathering, and we hope this change in day is welcome and accessible to both veteran and rookie meeting attendees! 


 Event  Time
Yiddish Book Center (max 15 people)   10:45am-11:45am
Hampshire College Library Archives & Special Collections
Robert Seydel Reading Room and Art Gallery (max 15 people)
Yiddish Book Center (max 15 people)   11:30am-12:00noon
Hampshire College Library Archives & Special Collections
Robert Seydel Reading Room and Art Gallery (max 15 people)
Registration   12:00noon-1:00pm
Welcome and Introduction 1:00pm-1:10pm
Plenary talk, Aaron Lansky, "Treasure for the Finding: The Ongoing Adventures of the Yiddish Book Center," followed by discussion   1:10pm-2:00pm
Break   2:00pm-2:30pm 
Panel: "Building Bridges: Theory and Practice for Collections and User Access Across Boundaries"

  • Rob Cox, Head of Special Collections, UMass Amherst

Break 3:55pm-4:10pm 
Short Presentations

Questions and Discussions - Short Presentations   4:45pm-5:00pm 
Wrap Up   5:00pm 



Treasure for the Finding: The Ongoing Adventures of the Yiddish Book Center

After rescuing a literature, what do you do for an encore? That’s just one of the questions Aaron Lansky will answer in this lively update on the work of the Yiddish Book Center. Lansky was 24 years old when, in 1980, he took what he thought would be a two-year leave of absence from graduate school to rescue endangered Yiddish books. At the time, scholars estimated 70,000 volumes could still be saved; Lansky and his colleagues collected that number in six months and went on to recover more than a million volumes. What was most surprising was not how many books they found, but how eager people were to read them. In recent years, titles in the Center’s pioneering digital library have been downloaded 1.7 million times, and the organization’s work has expanded to include translation, oral history, and wide-ranging cultural and educational programs for students of all ages and backgrounds. With insight and humor, Lansky will recount the Center’s latest adventures and reflect on the role of activist archivists and librarians in furthering understanding of our collective past, present and future.

Aaron Lansky, founder and president of the Yiddish Book Center
Aaron Lansky was a graduate student in Montreal in the late 1970s when he discovered that large numbers of Yiddish books were being discarded by younger Jews who could not read the language of their parents and grandparents. In the summer of 1980 he founded the Yiddish Book Center and issued a public appeal for unwanted and discarded Yiddish books. The work of Lansky and his colleagues over the past three decades has been described as “one of the greatest cultural rescue efforts in Jewish history.”

A native of New Bedford, Massachusetts, Aaron Lansky holds a BA in modern Jewish history from Hampshire College, an MA in East European Jewish studies from McGill University, and honorary doctorates from Amherst College, the State University of New York, and Hebrew Union College. Early in his career he was included by Esquire magazine in its first annual register of “The Best of the New Generation: Men and Women Under Forty Who Are Changing America,” and he received a so-called “genius grant” from the MacArthur Foundation in 1989. His bestselling book, Outwitting History: The Amazing Adventures of a Man Who Rescued a Million Yiddish Books, won the Massachusetts Book Award in Nonfiction in 2005. Aaron lives in Amherst with his wife, Gail. They have two daughters, Sasha and Chava.


Building Bridges: Theory and Practice for Collections and User Access Across Boundaries

Invited panel featuring presentations and discussions on promoting access and connecting to users across the boundaries created by language, gender, policy regulations, and differing abilities.

Jennifer Arnott 
Research Librarian at Perkins School for the Blind

Jennifer Arnott has been the Research Librarian at Perkins School for the Blind since May 2015. She grew up in the Boston area and received her BA from Wellesley College before moving to Minnesota in 1999. There, she got a job in an independent high school library and completed her MLIS (through the then joint St. Catherine University / Dominican University program) in 2007. In 2011, she moved to Maine to become the Information Technology Librarian at the University of Maine at Farmington. At Perkins, she answers reference and historical questions about the school, the history of blindness education, and related topics, helping everyone from 4th graders fascinated by Helen Keller to academic researchers. She will be speaking about providing accessible reference and resource materials, and about thinking through accessibility and access needs for a varying audience of library users. She writes occasionally about library topics at her blog at

Amita Kiley
Collections Manager & Research Coordinator at the Lawrence History Center

Amita Kiley is the Collections Manager & Research Coordinator at the Lawrence History Center. Amita was raised in Lawrence and graduated from Northeastern University with a B.A. in American History in 2004. Her experience growing up in Lawrence fostered a love of the city and a strong sense of wanting to preserve its history. In 2001, as part of Northeastern’s Co-operative Education program, she found herself working at the LHC as a preservation assistant. She continued her professional career after graduation at the archive. In 2014, she moved into her current role as Collections Manager and Research Coordinator. She works closely with LHC’s Director and local historians, coordinates and supervises volunteers, handles walk in visitors and manages membership correspondence from the LHC office. Amita lives in Haverhill, MA with her husband and two daughters. 

Alana Kumbier
Critical Social Inquiry and Digital Pedagogy Librarian at Hampshire College Library

Alana Kumbier is the Critical Social Inquiry and Digital Pedagogy Librarian at Hampshire College Library. She is the author of Ephemeral Material: Queering the Archive (Litwin Books, 2014) and co-editor of Critical Library Instruction: Theories and Methods (Library Juice Press, 2010). This fall, she is co-teaching a course at Hampshire titled “Beyond the Riot: Zines in Archives and Digital Space.” Her research and practical interests include accessibility in libraries, racial justice and anti-oppression work in library contexts, and the inclusion of materials related to sex and sexuality in libraries and archives. Alana holds a PhD in Comparative Studies from the Ohio State University, and an MLIS from the School of Library & Information Science at Kent State University.

Shannon O'Neill
Associate Director of Archives & Special Collections at Barnard Archives & Special Collections

Shannon O’Neill is the Associate Director of Archives and Special Collections and the History Librarian at Barnard College. Prior to joining Barnard, she was a librarian and archivist at the Atlantic City Free Public Library and the photo archivist for the Los Angeles Public Library. Shannon’s professional interests include community-based archival practices, radical histories and social justice issues, and the use of primary resource materials in education. She received her MLIS, with a concentration in archives, at UCLA in 2008.

Rob Cox
Head of Special Collections and University Archives at UMass Amherst

Rob Cox is the head of Special Collections and University Archives at UMass Amherst. A graduate of Haverford College, he split his time between paleontology and molecular biology before receiving a MILS at the University of Michigan (with a concentration in archives) and a PhD in early American history. Before coming to UMass, he held positions as head of manuscripts at the William L. Clements Library at the University of Michigan and as keeper of manuscripts at the American Philosophical Society. Rob teaches Archival Access and Use at Simmons School of Library and Information Science West, and also teaches in the Department of History at UMass. Among other subjects, Rob has published on the history of the American Spiritualist movement, the Lewis and Clark expedition, Quaker "missions" to the Seneca Indians, the history of photography, and the history of sleep. His other activities range from consulting work at the Alaska Native Language Center, serving on several granting committees, herding cats, and working with local historical societies and small libraries to describe, care for, and publicize their holdings, most recently with the Commonwealth Historical Collaboration.


Molly Brown
MLIS Candidate, MA History Candidate at Simmons College, Graduate School of Library and Information Science

Mary Margaret Groberg
Outreach Archivist at Norwich University

Jen Hale
Archivist at Perkins School for the Blind

Veronica Martzahl
Digital Records Archivist at Massachusetts Archives
Massachusetts State Historic Records Advisory Board (MA SHRAB)


Member Rates Half-day Symposium
 Early-Bird $45 
 On-Site $50 
 Member Bridge* Rates
 Early-Bird $34
 Student Member Rates  
 Early-Bird $22
 On-Site $27
 Non-Member Rates  
 Early-Bird $60 
 On-Site  $65 

*available to NEA members in good standing who self-identify as un- or under-employed 

NEA will issue a refund minus a $10 cancellation fee for up to 10 days prior to the workshop or meeting. Exceptions to the cancellation policy will be made at the discretion of the Registrar. 


Parking is available at the Yiddish Book Center, and nearby, across from the Eric Carle Museum. YBC parking is somewhat limited due to construction on the Hampshire College campus, and if the lower and upper YBC lots become full, participants can park in the lot down the road, across from the Eric Carle Museum (approximately 5 minute walk from YBC). 

(Parking outlined in red)


The Yiddish Book Center is fully accessible. If you have questions or concerns about accessibility and/or disability accommodations that you would like addressed before or after registration, please contact NEA’s Inclusion and Diversity Coordinator for assistance.


The Yiddish Book Center and the Hampshire College Library Archives & Special Collections have generously offered their time and services to offer free tours of their wonderful institutions. Each will offer one tour from 10:45-11:15am, and one from 11:30am-12:00pm, leaving plenty of time to grab some lunch! Please reserve a spot by filling out our Tour Sign Up form. Spots are limited!


Heading to Amherst early? Staying late? There are some great local spots for food and drink.

Join the Records Management Roundtable of NEA for a 6:30pm informal meetup at The Moan & Dove, 460 West Street, Amherst, MA 01002 (1.4 miles) (no food, but can BYO inside to enjoy with your craft beer! Chinese, Salvadorian, Mexican, and subs & pizza takeout options nearby)

Or, grab some friends (or new acquaintances) and enjoy your own lunch, snack, or dinner meetup at a local establishment:
Atkins Farms, 1150 West St., Amherst, MA 01002 (0.8 miles) 
Mission Cantina, 485 West St., Amherst, MA 01002 (1.8 miles) 
The multiple options in downtown Amherst, MA 01002 (~4 miles) 
The Village Commons in South Hadley, MA 01075 (5.8 miles) 
The many options in downtown Northampton, MA 01060 (~7.5 miles)

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