Professional Development Leave – Gleeson Library Style

ImageThanks to the Professional Development Leave program, USF’s Gleeson Library librarians are eligible to apply for a research leave to engage in intensive research. For my professional development leave in 2012 I created Habobib, a bibliography of publications by and about Habonim Dror, an international Jewish youth movement. In conjunction with formulating the bibliography, I also began the process of developing an online repository of Habonim Dror publications.

Habonim Dror (the Hebrew for “Builders of Freedom”) is a socialist Zionist youth movement that educates youth around the globe about Jewish culture, progressive Zionism, socialism, and social justice. The organization Habonim Dror was formed in 1982 by the merger of two historical youth movements: Habonim, which was founded in Great Britain in 1929, and Dror, which was founded in 1915 in Russia. This merged organization now has chapters all over the world.

I attended Habonim Dror summer camps and have strong ties to the organization. The professional development leave thus provided me with the rare opportunity to engage in original scholarship in a subject that combines my personal and professional interests. The leave allowed me to immerse myself in this research endeavor and provided intellectual space for reflection on the underlying political conflicts embedded in progressive Zionism and therefore Habonim Dror’s history.

In order to find the publications for this bibliography I utilized a variety of strategies including contacting organizational headquarters in the United States and other countries, inventorying materials at Habonim Dror’s North American Central Office in New York, conducting research at the Center for Jewish History (also in New York) to obtain access to the archival and library collections of the American Jewish Historical Society and the YIVO Institute, reaching out to Habonim Dror alumni, and scouring various online databases and websites. I used RefWorks to compile the Habonim Dror bibliography and RefShare (a component of RefWorks) to provide online, public access.

Habobib is now live and consists of over 300 unique entries. The records in Habobib contain links to digital versions of publications when available, as well information regarding libraries or archives that hold the items, and annotations to provide context and additional information. The professional development leave was a truly gratifying experience and has laid the foundation for this ongoing project.

The Habobib bibliography and online repository continue to be works in progress. I add publications as I discover them and as new sources are published. The part of the research I’ve enjoyed most is the discovery of rare and old publications from Jewish communities across the world. It has honestly felt like a treasure hunt, and the hunt has not yet grown old. Speaking of which, the image at the top of this post is the cover of a Romanian publication from 1945 that I just found last week.

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