Category Archives: News

Columbia University Libraries Launches Website for the Language and Culture Atlas of Ashkenazic Jewry (LCAAJ)

Columbia University Libraries is very pleased to announce the launch of the website for the digitized data of the Language and Culture Atlas of Ashkenazic Jewry. An accompanying guide to the use of the digitized materials with many supplementary materials is also available.

The LCAAJ archive is an extraordinary resource for research in Yiddish studies that can shed much valuable light on language, ethnography, literature, folklore and music, anthropology, linguistics, Germanic and Slavic studies, and aspects of Central and East European history. The archive consists of over 600 interviews conducted between 1959 and 1972 with native speakers of Yiddish during a long-range comparative study to document the effects of physical, linguistic, and cultural channels and barriers on the geographic fragmentation of the Jewish and diverse non-Jewish populations that coexisted in Central and Eastern Europe before World War II. The LCAAJ project collected its interviews at essentially the last moment, when a diverse body of native speakers was still alive, aiming to address both the challenge of an endangered linguistic and cultural legacy, and the special potential that Yiddish provides for studying language and cultural contact and change.

This two-year project, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, digitized approximately 140,000 pages of interview documents containing data from the interviews, carried out optical character recognition (OCR) and mark-up of the printed responses to enable their content to be searched and manipulated, and made all the digitized content freely available to scholars via the Digital Library Collections at Columbia. Additional work, funded by the Libraries, allowed for complete reprocessing of the full LCAAJ archive for scholarly use. This source for historical, literary, or anthropological research, for the study of languages in contact, and for the evolution and differentiation of language communities, is now available to a worldwide community of scholars.

The written materials accompany more than 5,700 hours of recorded interviews that Columbia Libraries has already digitized through generous support from NEH, private foundations, the New York State Conservation/Preservation Program, and Evidence of Yiddish Documented in European Societies (EYDES, a project of the German Förderverein für Jiddische Sprache und Kultur), through which the audio is publicly available. The long-term goal is to eventually link the written content to the audio recordings of the interviews and make the entire audio and written corpus available to students and scholars in an integrated form.

The interviews contain a wealth of comments about Jewish culture and history from a place and time that is largely out of our reach today. Bringing the LCAAJ archive into the digital environment will exponentially increase its value to historians of Jewish Studies and European history, linguists, anthropologists, and students and teachers of Yiddish. The availability of this data will greatly facilitate the online work of scholars to continue and enhance the important mapping work begun in the first three volumes of the printed Atlas, which were published by Niemeyer in 1992-2000.

As part of the launch of the project, an exhibition called “Yiddish at Columbia” will be mounted in the Chang Octagon Gallery in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library in early March. Additional events will be announced at a later date.

The LCAAJ archive consists of over 600 interviews conducted between 1959 and 1972 with native speakers of Yiddish, documenting the effects of physical, linguistic, and cultural channels and barriers on the geographic fragmentation of the Jewish and diverse non-Jewish populations that coexisted in Central and Eastern Europe before World War II.

Expansion of Borrow Direct Loan Period

We heard you!

The expanded 16-week loan period for materials requested via Borrow Direct begins July 1, 2017.

The new loan period will be 16 weeks – a full semester – with no renewals. This is a change from our current 6-week loan period plus one 6-week renewal.

Thank you for your feedback. You help to make a great service even greater.

Are there other ways for us to improve?  Please be in touch with your concerns, ideas, and questions.

Borrow Direct Staff

307 Butler Library

(212) 854-7535

Columbia Spectator Archive, 1953-1992, Now Available Online

The Columbia Spectator Archive now includes content from 1953 to 1992, totaling nearly 50,000 pages.  The website, initially launched in Fall 2012,  represents the first phase of a multiyear project to digitize the full run of the Columbia Spectator, Columbia's student newspaper and the second-oldest college daily in the United States. When completed, it will include issues from the paper's beginnings in 1877 to the present.

The goals of the Archive are to provide a public resource for Columbia University history and to preserve the Spectator's past work. Whenever possible, Spectator issues were scanned from the original paper versions, and high-quality, color digital reproductions were generated.  State-of-the-art optical character recognition, automatic text parsing software, and a powerful search and display system, provided by Digital Data Divide and Digital Library Consulting, respectively, allow for article-level access as well as full text searching of the entire Archive.  The project, which is being jointly funded by the Libraries and the Spectator, has been challenging as many of the original volumes required paper repair and conservation due to their fragile condition from years of use.

Workshop: Enhancing Access to Oral History, February 14 at 6PM

Columbia Center for Oral History, the Oral History Master of Arts, and the Digital Humanities Center Presents:

Search, Explore, Connect:
Enhancing Access to Oral History
Thursday, February 14th, 2013

6pm – 8pm
523 Butler Library

Free and open to the public. No registration required.

The digital age has greatly enhanced opportunities and possibilities for a single oral history interview or project to be globally distributed and, potentially, have a major impact on the historical record. Doug Boyd will discuss new models for engaging and empowering users of oral history in a digital environment. He will also discuss the web-based, system OHMS (Oral History Metadata Synchronizer) that inexpensively and efficiently enhances access to oral history online, created at the Nunn Center.

Doug Boyd Ph.D. serves as the Director of the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History at the University of Kentucky Libraries. He is currently directing the IMLS National Leadership Grant OHMS: Enhancing Access and Discovery of Oral History Online and recently managed the Oral History in the Digital Age project, a national initiative exploring current best practices for collecting, curating and disseminating oral histories resulting in an online, open access publication containing over 72 essays.

For more information, please email Terrell Frazier at

Happy Constitution Day! The Libraries Document the Work of John Jay

The Selected Papers of John Jay, a publications project under the auspices of the Rare Book and Manuscript Library, is currently completing work on volume 4 of that edition, covering 1785-1789, the period of John Jay’s term of office as Secretary for Foreign Affairs.

During that time Jay promoted constitutional reform and defended the proposed constitution in five widely circulated essays of the Federalist Papers and in an equally well-regarded pamphlet addressed to the people of the state of New York, and signed “A Citizen of New York.”

Jay also played a dominant role in the state ratifying convention, helping to ensure that his Anti-federalist-dominated state ultimately ratified the Constitution and remained within the union.  Volume 4 will print Jay’s correspondence on constitutional issues with Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and others, and not only the published texts of his “A Citizen of New York” pamphlet and his Federalist essays but his draft versions of The Federalist, so that readers can examine the process by which Jay shaped his arguments for maximum effect.

Graduate Students! Apply For A Digital Centers Internship!

Exciting news!  The Libraries will award 6 internship opportunities within our digital centers on emerging digital tools and research methodologies, collaborating with librarians and technologists in supporting and promoting digital scholarship. 

We are seeking qualified Columbia graduate students; internships pay $20/hour.  Don't delay!  Click here for more information – application deadline is September 15th, 2012.

Albert Ellis’ Papers Now Available For Research

Columbia University's Rare Book and Manuscript Library is pleased to announce that the Albert Ellis Papers are now open to the Columbia University community and the public for scholarly research.

For more information on the materials, please check the finding aid online.

Albert Ellis (1913-2007) obtained his bachelor’s degree in business administration from the City College of New York in 1934, and M.A. (1943), and Ph.D. degrees in clinical psychology from Columbia University in 1947. He originated Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) in 1955 as a cognitive behavioral system of psychotherapy. REBT teaches clients to use cognitive, emotive, and behavioral methods to counter their self-sabotaging beliefs and behaviors. In 1959, Ellis founded and organized the Institute for Rational Living (Albert Ellis Institute) in 1959, in Manhattan where it is still operating presently. Ellis served as President Emeritus of the Institute until his death on July 24, 2007.

The Ellis Papers consists of materials related to Ellis's long career as a psychologist, sexologist, and pioneer of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT). Records consist of correspondence, publications, photographs, notebooks, notecards, reel to reel audio tapes, audio cassette tapes, VHS tapes, and Dictaphone tapes.

The Study Break Is Wednesday, May 2!

Finals and the end of the semester are rapidly approaching! Remember the libraries and its staff are resource here to help you.

On Wednesday, May 2 from 10pm-12am in the Butler Lounge, take a moment to recharge and refuel with Starbucks coffee, bagels, and more healthy snacks and activities.  Librarians will also be on hand to answer any of your last minute reference and research questions.

Librarians are also available via email, chat, text, and in-person! So don't hesitate to ask a librarian when you need assistance.

Also, next week Stressbusters will be in Butler 203 from 8pm-12am giving free backrubs! You don't want to miss this awesome de-stress opportunity. 

Extended hours will also be in effect May 1-11 in the 5th and 6th floor graduate reading rooms. It's the end of the year! Go get 'em!

Announcing A New Way To Search! CLIO Beta Launches Today

The Libraries are happy to announce the launch of a new search system: CLIO Beta.  CLIO Beta, which over time will take the place of the current search tool CLIO, improves the discovery of information and delivers enhanced services for students and faculty.

CLIO Beta searches the same catalog as CLIO and CLIO classic, but offers more flexible search options, quicker filtering of resources, better results formats, and item-specific request options

It also enables searching across many diverse sources, including the Columbia Libraries catalog, articles, archives, Academic Commons, ebooks, the Libraries’ website, and more.

For more information, check out the video below, visit the CLIO Beta blog or start searching right away!

Questions? Comments? Suggestions? We’d love to hear them! Just use the feedback tab at