Sunday, August 4, 2013

IAJGS2013 Day 1, part 2

Day 4 of the International Conference on Jewish Genealogy.  (Note to bad people: no, my house is not empty, so don't bother.)  As the conference progresses, you'll be able to see my entire summary, day by day, here.

Last night was the opening session of the conference!  There are over 1200 people registered, and there are also people attending a selection of the presentations online!  It was announced that next year's conference will take place in Salt Lake City during the last week of July; then the 2015 conference will be in Israel beginning July 6; and the 2016 conference will take place on Seattle.

Aaron Lansky of the Yiddish Book Center gave the keynote address. I almost didn't go since the topic didn't sound very interesting, but I'm very glad I went.  Not only was he an entertaining speaker, but he has an important story to tell.
In the early 1980s, he saw books headed to dumpsters as Yiddish readers died and their kids didn't read Yiddish. He sees these books as a window into the lives of Eastern European Jews. He took 2 years off graduate school to collect as many books as possible. 33 years and 1 million books later, he is still on leave from graduate school.
He has worked over the years to digitize them as much as possible and is currently working to make them all searchable.  In addition to traditional books, he is doing this for Yizkor books, audio, and more.  He sees himself and his team as "saving books from the dustbin of history."

The talk ran a bit late, but then some of the younger crowd all met downstairs. By the time I left in exhaustion, there was a group of around 15 people!

Off to day 2!

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