Although nostalgia for a golden-hued past is a common emotional reaction to change, it cannot be a substitute for meeting the evolving needs of the future. The present JTS Library was built in the 1980s, which may seem not so long ago until you realize that 30 years ago the Internet revolution had not transformed the way we receive and disseminate information, digitization was not yet available, eBooks did not exist, and the numerous technological developments that allow rare books to be showcased and studied without harm to their fragile condition were not even considered. Perhaps even more importantly, 30 years ago libraries were mainly used as spaces for silent, individual scholarship, which is at odds with the advanced thinking of today that emphasizes the value of collaborative learning.The author "is executive vice chancellor and chief operating officer of The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS)."
Had JTS merely decided to preserve the present Library and ignore these seismic changes—as some have suggested—we would have done a major disservice to the remarkable collection and the history it represents. Instead, the leadership of JTS—the Board of Trustees, the administration, and the leadership of the Library—embarked on one of the most exciting ventures in JTS history to ensure that the treasures of the Jewish people are better conserved, more widely disseminated, and more accessible to the world of scholars, students, and lay people with the purpose of enriching and inspiring new generations.