Dr. Philip E. Miller Recognized for Leadership and Professional Contributions to Jewish Librarianship
Philip E. Miller, Ph.D., A.M.L.S., Director of the Klau Library at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion's New York School, delivered the Feinstein Lecture for the National Foundation for Jewish Culture at the 42nd annual convention of the Association of Jewish Libraries, Inc, held in Phoenix, Arizona on June 17 - 20, 2007. Librarians, archivists, and scholars from numerous disciplines met to share their interests in Judaica librarianship and related areas. Dr. Miller presented "The Art and Science of Reference Work" and was also awarded the Life Membership award, granted in recognition of outstanding leadership and professional contributions to the Association of Jewish Libraries and to the profession of Jewish librarianship.
Dr. Miller discussed digital technology's effect on libraries, the relationship between librarian and patron, and the importance of his Jewish knowledge and identity in assisting library users, saying, "One can and should ask how does Judaic reference work differ from other kinds of reference work? For one thing, in many environments the knowledge of Hebrew or Yiddish (or some other "Jewish language") may be necessary. Then the librarian needs to know what research tools there are and which are to be found in his or her work setting. I liken the knowing and mastering of such tools to be a science. The art in reference work comes, I believe, in the reference interview," that is, the communication between a librarian and library user. Dr. Miller went on to share several anecdotes of reference interviews from his nearly 40 years in the field.
Dr. Miller concluded his talk with advice to his colleagues. He urged them to "write down and save your war stories. Not only will you look back one day with satisfaction upon them, you will find your colleagues will want to hear them. For as similar as they may be on the surface, there are always profound and unique instructive aspects."
The full lecture is available at www.huc.edu/faculty/faculty/miller.shtml.