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History of the JTSA Library

The JTSA's magnificent library was founded in 1893. Dr. Alexander Marx, head librarian from 1903-1953, was the single individual who built the library's outstanding collection of books and manuscripts into what it is today. The library continues to grow, dedicating itself to the preservation of the works which encompass the tales of Jewish life and making those works available to all who wish to study them (JTSA Library, 1). However, this goal was almost stopped short by a fire which almost destroyed the library on April 18, 1966. Over 70,000 books were destroyed and almost all of the other volumes were damaged in some way. Fortunately, the manuscript collection was spared due to the fact that it was housed elsewhere. On July 5, 1983, after almost two decades, a new library building was completed.

At present, the library houses one-half million books and has enough space for three-hundred people to study and read. It contains both a microfilm center and an audio-visual center, as well as a rare book room on the top floor, which houses the manuscript collection. When attempting to view this colllection, one would be well-advised to call in advance to make an appointment to speak with someone, making sure to arrive knowing exactly which manuscripts one wants to see. Otherwise, the people staffing the library may not be able to be very helpful.
The JTSA Library

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Site Author: Aaron Herman, Project for "Introduction to Medieval History", Fordham University, Spring 1997