Diane Romm served as the library chairperson for the Uniondale Public School District in Uniondale, NY after having been the librarian of Ramaz High School in New York City. She has been active in the Association of Jewish Libraries and worked as a library consultant for the Avi Chai Foundation’s Bookshelf Project.
When I, as a high school librarian, was introduced to the Internet in the early 1990s, it was in its infancy. However, I quickly understood the value for my students of having access to an ever-increasing collection of free Jewish resources. I began keeping a list of these resources, annotating them and then categorizing them. The result was the first edition of my book, The Jewish Guide to the Internet, published by Jason Aronson.
Over time, the book went through three editions. Ultimately, I decided to put the entire book online and add to it on my website, The Jewish Guide to the Internet.
Today, the site provides access to more than 2,500 free online Jewish sites in 100 categories. I have used these resources to create lesson plans that teach research skills to high school students and have modeled them at conferences such as those of the Association of Jewish Libraries.
I also worked as a consultant for the Avi Chai Foundation’s Bookshelf Project, whose goal was to improve library services for day school and yeshiva high schools throughout North America. Recognizing that many of these schools had no full-time librarians, I decided to create a free online library of Judaica resources for day school and yeshiva high school students at. The site provides access to free sites online in 24 categories that support the Jewish studies curriculum of most day school and yeshiva high school libraries.
Most recently, I have realized that libraries are moving increasingly toward digitizing their collections. Instead of just indicating that they own a particular item and where to find it, libraries are now allowing people who search their catalogs to read the books, see the objects, listen to the recordings and watch the videos they own. I recognized the need for a directory to find many of these gems, so I launched Jewish Digital Collections.
This catalogue is comprised of an annotated list of more than 350 sites that house digitized collections of Jewish material divided into 23 subject areas. It is the only site on the Internet that provides an aggregated collection of such material.
Finally, university librarians worldwide often create wonderful guides for their students to help them in their studies. Once again, I felt there was no single directory of these guides for Jewish studies, so I created one: Jewish Digital Collections and Jewish Study Guides.
This directory includes colleges and universities in the United States, Canada, Israel, Australia, the UK and Europe. Many of these schools house unique materials that would be of interest to students at all levels. However, without a directory or index of some sort, it is difficult to locate these very useful resources.
Providing free access to Judaica resources online levels the playing field for students, providing everyone, regardless of where they live or attend school the ability to learn from a broad array of resources. Teachers, too, can now learn about resources they can use to devise creative research projects, knowing that their students can find the materials they need for them online. Finally, those with an interest in a particular subject can use these indexes to explore it in greater depth.