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Our Librarian, Aileen Grossberg

Aileen Grossberg was a fairly new member of Shomrei in the late 1970s when the president of the Sisterhood asked her to become the synagogue’s volunteer librarian. She had no experience outside of working as a photocopy-machine clerk at the library at Pembroke, where she went to college, and volunteering in her daughter’s elementary school.

But she was interested. “I said, ‘Why not?’” she recalls. That was around 1977.

Typically, Aileen plunged in with gusto, starting to update the Shomrei library’s holdings  and teaching herself cataloguing to impose some order on the collection. She brought in the Weine classification system, modeled on the Dewey Decimal System. She signed up the library as a charter member of the New Jersey chapter of the Association of Jewish Libraries, and she became active personally in both the state chapter and the national association.

Inspired by her volunteer work, Aileen made it her profession.

She took a paraprofessional job at the Montclair Public Library in 1981, enrolled in the library-science program at Rutgers in 1984, and earned an M.L.S. in just over a year. With her degree, she became an assistant librarian in Elmwood Park, was hired as a librarian by the Bloomfield Public Schools in 1990, and ended her full-time career at the Livingston Public Schools, where she worked from 1997 until her retirement in December 2009.

Today, she is reinvigorating the Lampert Library with her full energies: putting together new programs and meeting with our Jewish Learning Center students and preschoolers every week; delivering monthly columns on the library’s holdings for Kol Emunah, the synagogue newsletter, and publishing regular updates in the weekly Cyberletter.

Aileen continues to offer bar and bat mitzvah students a wealth of resources, including an extensive bibliography of books and Websites that is appended to the Shomrei bar and bat mitzvah manual.

Aileen welcomes suggestions for purchases. But she cautions that despite its successes, and despite the support of the Lampert family, the library has been perennially underfunded. It is supported solely by donations, not by the synagogue budget, and it survives by extremely judicious purchasing. It most gratefully accepts contributions of any amount to help purchase the best of the new books and replace missing older books.

Above all, please visit the Lampert Library soon and put its treasure trove to good use.