Brodsky Library creates ’satellite location’ at Maryville University

A new partnership between the Saul Brodsky Jewish Community Library and Maryville University has created a satellite location for the Brodsky Library on the university’s west St. Louis County campus. Since September, nearly 300 Judaic books have found a new home in Maryville’s University Library, for students as well as the public to enjoy.

The partnership is a “win/win” for everyone, according to Barbara Raznick, Library Director for the Brodsky Library. “Part of our strategic plan was to develop some satellite locations,” Raznick said. “And the first place we were looking for was West County.” 

Maryville was a logical choice because the university has made a concerted effort in recent years to reach out to the Jewish community. The university has collaborated with Jewish organizations and causes throughout the St. Louis area, such as the Jewish Book Festival and jewishinstlouis.org, among others, and sought to position itself as a good choice for potential Jewish college students.

According to Raznick, the Brodsky Library is one of only a handful of Jewish community libraries in the country. Established in 1983 as a department of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis, the library collection now includes more than 23,000 volumes as well as CDs, DVDs and periodicals.

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Paul Kravitz, chair of the Brodsky Library Commission, instigated the partnership. He is also an adjunct professor in marketing at Maryville. Kravitz saw it as a way to merge the library’s mission of providing “convenient access to an unrivaled, evolving collection of significant Jewish resources” with Maryville’s interest in engaging the Jewish community. 

Kravitz is also spearheading a new Maryville Jewish Advisory Group of community members who will guide these efforts as well as other collaborations within the Jewish community.

The Brodsky Library partnership is one example among Maryville’s other efforts to integrate Jewish culture into its campus life. A grant from the Kranzberg Family Foundation, now in its third year, has funded a part-time Jewish Programming Facilitator position, held by Erin Schreiber, to plan events, celebrate Jewish traditions on campus with Maryville students, and reach out to Jewish populations at other universities to form a larger network of young Jewish adults. Maryville has an active group of Jewish faculty and staff, as well as students who belong to a Jewish Student Union on campus.

Categories in the collection range from inspirational to history and theology, as well as lighter topics like Jewish humor and holiday traditions. Selections include everything from the “Encyclopaedia Judaica” and the “Talmud,” to several titles by Elie Wiesel, numerous volumes of literature on the Holocaust, and more contemporary popular fiction like “The Yiddish Policemen’s Union” by Michael Chabon and Anita Diamant’s “The Red Tent.”

Ultimately, both organizations hope to partner on events such as film presentations, panel discussions and guest lecturers on the Maryville campus. Additionally, the Saul Brodsky library may be able to provide specific works for use by Maryville students studying Jewish-related subjects like the Holocaust. 

Members of the public wishing to access the collection may visit the University Library on the Maryville campus (accessible from 64/40 at the Maryville Centre exit or from Conway Road near 141) any time during regular library hours. Those wishing to check out books from the Brodsky collection may request a “Friend of the Library” card.