U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern Announces Yiddish Book Center as a Recipient of 2014 National Medal for Museum and Library Service
National Award Recognizes Exceptional Contributions of Amherst, Massachusetts Library
U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern announced that the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) has selected the Yiddish Book Center, Amherst, Mass, as a recipient of a National Medal for Museum and Library Service. The National Medal is the nation’s highest honor given to museums and libraries for service to the community.
AMHERST, Mass. (April 24, 2014) – U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern announced that theInstitute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) has selected the Yiddish Book Center, Amherst, Mass, as a recipient of a National Medal for Museum and Library Service. The National Medal is the nation’s highest honor given to museums and libraries for service to the community.
Winners of the National Medal were selected from nationwide Congressional nominations of institutions that demonstrate innovative approaches to public service, exceeding the expected levels of community outreach. The Yiddish Book Center was one of only ten award recipients nationwide and the only award in Massachusetts.
“I am proud to congratulate The Yiddish Book Center on this honor. Located right in our backyard, the Center is one of our nation’s greatest treasures,” said U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern. “The work they do day-in and day-out to preserve this important part of our collective culture is invaluable, and I’m proud to have them in my district.”
The Yiddish Book Center was founded in 1980 by its current president, Aaron Lansky, then a 24 year-old graduate student of Yiddish literature. In the course of his studies Lansky realized that untold number of irreplaceable Yiddish books – the primary tangible legacy of 1,000 years of Jewish life in Eastern Europe – were being discarded by American-born Jews unable to read the language of their own Yiddish-speaking grandparents. Some thirty years later the organization has collected more than a million volumes. It has established and strengthened Yiddish holdings at 600 university and research libraries around the world, and has posted the full texts of 12,000 titles online, making Yiddish one of the most accessible literatures in the world.
“We are thrilled to accept this award, not only as a recognition of the Yiddish Book Center, but far more important as a tribute to the enduring nature of Yiddish itself,” said Aaron Lansky, founder and president of the Yiddish Book Center.
The National Medal will be presented by First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House on May 8. After the ceremony, StoryCorps – a national nonprofit dedicated to recording, preserving, and sharing the stories of Americans – will visit each institution to document stories from the communities about the winning institutions.
“Congratulations to the 2014 winners of the National Medal for Museum and Library Service. From programs that foster passion for science, literature and cultural heritage, to critical 21st century skills training for improved educational outcomes and workforce readiness, the services and programs of these institutions truly do make a difference,” said Susan H. Hildreth, director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services. “We thank each of this year’s medal recipients for their innovation and their dedication to serving their communities.”
For a complete list of 2014 recipients and to learn more about the National Medal winners, please visit www.imls.gov/medals.
About the Yiddish Book Center
The Yiddish Book Center is a non-profit organization working to tell the whole Jewish story by rescuing, translating and disseminating Yiddish books and presenting innovative educational programs that broaden understanding of modern Jewish identity. Yiddishbookcenter.org
About the Institute of Museum and Library Services