Jewish Public Library

This Week in JPL History: Author Lawrence Hill visits the JPL in 2007.

This Week in JPL History: Author Lawrence Hill visits the JPL in 2007.

In 2007, the JPL was honoured to host Lawrence Hill for a reading of his novel The Book of Negroes. The book tells the story of a young African girl enslaved in South Carolina, who later makes her way to Nova Scotia, and finally to England at the turn at the 19th century. It was inspired by the historical Book of Negroes. This document recorded the names and descriptions of some 3,000 African-American former slaves who were evacuated from the US to Nova Scotia by the [...]



This Week in JPL History: Ribbons, Permits, and Pool Rooms: Fundraising at the JPL

This Week in JPL History: Ribbons, Permits, and Pool Rooms: Fundraising at the JPL

In years past the JPL launched its annual campaign in September. An integral part of this campaign would have been tag days. Before there was Kickstarter and Indiegogo there were tag days. It was crowdsourcing long before crowdsourcing existed. Instead of funding projects from the outright ridiculous to the mundane, tag days were the on-the-ground fundraising mainstay of charitable causes. What is a tag day? During a tag day volunteers or ‘taggers’ are sent out by an organization to stand outside various locations throughout the [...]



This Week in JPL History: Please come in – the Library’s YIFO

This Week in JPL History: Please come in – the Library’s YIFO

From its founding the Jewish Public Library was intended to be more than merely a place where books lived. It was meant to be a place of reading and of education. In June of 1914, one month     after the founding of the library, Reuben Brainin proudly wrote “[a]fter much laborious work, and after persevering efforts and activity, I have succeeded in finally founding a Jewish Public Library and University.” The Yiddish People’s University (or YIFO) had its heyday in the 40’s and 50’s [...]



This Week in JPL History: Award-winning author Neil Bissoondath visits the JPL in 2006.

This Week in JPL History: Award-winning author Neil Bissoondath visits the JPL in 2006.

In 2006 the multiple award-winning author Neil Bisoondath visited the Library. The Trinidadian born author, who moved to Ontario at the age of 18, read from his fifth book, The Unyielding Clamour of the Night. The book is told from the point of view of a man who moves from the north of an unidentified island nation to the south. It explores life in a land torn apart by conflict, going beyond politics into the human drama behind the bombs. It won the Quebec Writers’ [...]



This Week in JPL History: Shanah Tovah!

This Week in JPL History: Shanah Tovah!

Did you know that… The Jewish Public Library was the first Jewish public library founded outside of Europe? In the Library’s earliest years, Board meetings sometimes became so heated they lasted late into the night, with debates and arguments spilling out onto Fletcher’s Field (now Jeanne-Mance Park)? An oral history interview recorded by the Archives gave one man’s grandchildren the opportunity to connect with him years after his passing? The Library organized a symposium on Jewish writers with Melech Ravitch, Ruth Roskies Wisse, Adele Wiseman, and [...]



New exhibit launch!

In anticipation of the Jewish Public Library’s 100th anniversary in 2014, the JPL-Archives have assembled items and documents from the Library’s illustrious past to put on display outside the JPL. The JPL was founded as a “folks” library, a library for all, in 1914.  The creation of the JPL was a result of the consolidation of smaller, organization or ideology-based libraries already in existence. The Library as a cultural hub for scholars, seniors and students alike has remained a popular destination for the inclusive community [...]



Family History Questions at Le Mood

Here we are at Le Mood (have I mentioned that already?) and the JPL-A/IMJM table is already fielding interesting questions about the histories of Jewish Montreal high schools, families, and businesses. One attendee stopped by and mentioned that he’s trying to tackle digitizing his family’s historic photographs.  Business card in hand for the JPL-A, he’s promised to contact us for advice on preservation for both the photographs and the digitized materials.  Many people assume that digitizing these types of family heirlooms is a magic answer. [...]



Kate’s Summer Projects

Kate’s Summer Projects

My main project has been sifting through the JPL’s material from the past 100 years in order to organize the Jewish Public Library Fonds and prepare for the 100th anniversary exhibit in 2014. As I’ve been examining the extensive material over the past year, what really stands out to me is the community that has arisen out of and been sustained by the Library, thanks to its prominent place in Montreal Jewish society. My primary job has been first physically organizing the boxes upon boxes [...]



National Archival Development Program, 2006-2012

National Archival Development Program, 2006-2012

Gone Too Soon… By Shannon and Kate As archival staff in a public library that serves the sizable Jewish community of Montreal, we have witnessed firsthand the importance of preserving and disseminating history. Not only does the community as a whole have a complex narrative within the mosaic of Canadian culture but the families that make up the community each have their own unique story. These people have told us their stories and trusted us as a heritage organization to preserve them.  This type of relationship is [...]



Riot, Theft, Epidemic, oh my!

Riot, Theft, Epidemic, oh my!

I think they covered their bases pretty well there! If it rains fire, you don’t get your money back!