Infofiles Index

How to Locate Rabbinic Information Sources in Libraries and Archives

Since rabbinic genealogy is based primarily on books, it is important to know which repositories contain rabbinic information sources and how to access them. The following is a listing of libraries and archives containing significant Judaic resources. Check for specific items in your local public or academic library's catalogs or ask your librarian about inter-library loan policies.

The Israeli university libraries, Jewish Theological Seminary, Ohio State University, and University of Pennsylvania use a system called ALEPH. This system, from an Israeli company, is a powerful library management system that can catalog and offer public access to books in Latin, Hebrew, Arabic and Cyrillic characters. The systems used by the Library of Congress and OCLC enter Hebrew books in transliteration only. Brandeis University's system over the Internet is in transliteration only. Their local system displays Hebrew characters. (F1) See also: Installing Hebrew fonts on your computer (MS Windows).

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  • Bar-Ilan University Library, Ramat Gan | Online Catalog
    • The computerized catalog includes over 400,000 records. The Library has electronic journals and both full-text and bibliographic databases on CD-ROM, in various languages. The electronic database includes some of the classical texts in the Judaic Classics Library. In addition, one may search the text of Jacob ben Asher's code the Tur; Joseph Caro's Bet Yosef; and 253 books of Responsa covering a period from the 8th century to the present. See also: The Responsa Project.
  • Jewish National and University Library, Hebrew University, Givat Ram, Jerusalem | Online Catalog (Web)
    • There are some 3,000,000 volumes of books and periodicals in the Library's holdings, constituting the largest collection of printed Judaica in the world. Thousands of items in special collections include: 1) Hebrew and Arabic manuscripts, and personal archives of outstanding Jewish persons, 2) microfilms of over 90% of known Hebrew manuscripts from libraries throughout the world, and 3) master microfilms of Israeli and Jewish newspapers and periodicals. See also: RAMBI, Index of Articles on Jewish Studies.
  • The Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People, Jerusalem
    • The Archives has rescued and preserved the archival remnants of hundreds of Jewish communities, organizations and public figures from all over the world. The Archives carries out systematic surveys in non-Jewish archives to locate material relating to Jews, so far uncovering millions of documents, some dating back to the 12th century.
  • Yad Vashem Library and Archives, Jerusalem
    • Yad Vashem is a repository for all published material about the Holocaust and related subjects. Millions of Pages of Testimony are now available online. The Library contains the largest collection of yizkor books. The Library catalog is computerized but not accessible via Internet. The Israel Genealogical Society has compiled an index to their holdings

United Kingdom

United States

Additional Libraries and Archives

Additional Resources and Links

  • Many American Rabbis wrote seforim (Hebrew books) in the early part of the 20th century. More than 700 entire seforim, including hakdomos (introductions), are available to view and print online.
  • Judaica Archival Project, a non-profit, preservation and access program of Machon Mekorot Institute, dedicated to preserving Sifrei Kodesh (Rabbinics).
  • MALMAD, Israel Center for Digital Information, (including links to Israeli libraries and OPACs, to the Israel union lists, etc.).
  • OCLC (Online Computer Library Center) is a nonprofit membership organization serving 41,000 libraries in 82 countries and territories around the world. It provides access to:
    • WorldCat, containing the merged catalogs of libraries around the world, making it the world's largest database of bibliographic information. Access to WorldCat via OCLC FirstSearch is through libraries only. Ask your local librarian for assistance in accessing WorldCat.
  • RAMBI, the index to articles on Jewish studies.
  • Articles

Shirley Rotbein Flaum
Houston, Texas, USA


1. "Librarian's Lobby," by Daniel D. Stuhlman, December 1997. (return)