Torah from Yemen housed in Special Collections

by Don Gantz, Head of Archives & Special Collections

The Ten Commandments, copied with special formatting, in the Torah donated to Regent

The Ten Commandments, copied with special formatting, in the Torah donated to Regent

Regent University recently received an 18th century Torah scroll from Ken and Barbara Larson, a couple whose mission is to gift Torah scrolls to academic institutions for study and inspiration.1

The Torah is the first five books of the Jewish and Christian Scriptures and is foundational to the faith of both. It is hand-written in Hebrew consonants by scribes observing traditions passed down for thousands of years. Dr. Scott Carroll, the scholar working with the Larsons, observed that the rules of the writing process have fixed the text of the Torah.

Our scroll has been dated at about 1750 and originated in Yemen. The history of the Jewish community in Yemen is long and fascinating and is still unfolding. Some forty thousand Yemenite Jews were airlifted to the newly formed nation of Israel in 1949, and just last month, Israel airlifted 19 of the remaining Jews out of the country. A Jewish man and Muslim airport worker have been arrested for helping to smuggle out a 500-year-old Torah.2

The Torah scroll donated by the Larsons consists of 50 calf skins that were made into parchment and sewn together. If unrolled entirely it would be 80 feet long. Most of the skins have five columns of text, but not all the skins are the same width. Some of the skins have holes and other minor defects outside the writing area. Some holes are covered with sewn patches. Some loose seams have been re-sewn by a conservator.

The text has about 860 noted corrections, most being corrections to the form of letters. Special formats of spacing in the text are evident which indicate important passages, such as the Ten Commandments, the song of Moses, and the priestly blessing. Each of the books ends exactly four lines short of the full 51 lines of the previous full columns, an amazing feat of scribal planning.

Now Regent faculty and students, especially those studying Biblical Hebrew, can study and read from a unique and inspiring primary source with a rich history.

The scroll is being stored in the Library Special Collections temperature and humidity controlled vault room. Persons desiring to see it should contact the Special Collections Supervisor, Donald Gantz (donagan@regent.edu) or Library Administration at 757-352-4185.

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1 Brett W. Tubbs, “Regent University Presented with Gift of 18th Century Torah,” Regent University News, March 17, 2016, http://www.regent.edu/news_events/?article_id=2177&view=full_article.

2 Adam E. Berkowitz, “Yemen Arrests Jew for Smuggling Ancient Torah to Israel,” Breaking Israel News, March 25, 2016, http://www.breakingisraelnews.com/64353/yemen-arrests-jew-for-smuggling-ancient-torah-to-israel-jewish-world/#9TWhrEZwVjcP40Mo.97.

ILL Book Chapter Requests Made Easier

by Fran McGowan, Reference Librarian & ILL Assistant

Remember – Use two Ls for requesting items not held by the Regent Library…

On the 2015 Customer Satisfaction Survey, we received the following comment requesting that a modification be made to the book chapter request form in ILLiad, our online Interlibrary Loan/Document Delivery system:

“The online request tool for book chapter requests needs to be more user friendly. If a direct link to populating the request tool cannot be provided in search databases, the tool itself should at least be modified so as not to require page numbers for book chapters, as sometimes the page numbers are not evident from the information displayed in the database or in footnote references to chapters elsewhere.”

...one L for enjoying the best in heroic Greek epic.

…one L for enjoying the best in heroic Greek epic.

We agree that requiring book chapter page numbers when not always included by indexing databases makes no sense, and we thank you for your suggestion.

Accordingly, we have modified the book chapter request form in ILLiad to offer three options for informing us of the specific section of a book you need. Below are the options – only one is required, and you choose which to provide.

  • Inclusive book chapter pages
  • Chapter title
  • Chapter number

This change, which we implemented based on one survey responder, should make requesting book chapters via ILLiad easier.

To learn more about our InterLibrary Loan and Document Delivery services, please check out the ILL tutorial on our YouTube channel.

Stephanie Lowell Receives Award for Excellence

SL_040116A routine Library staff meeting this morning was interrupted by messengers from the Awards for Excellence Committee announcing that Assistant to the Dean Stephanie Lowell is Regent University’s March Employee of the Month.

Here are a few of the comments that Stephanie’s colleagues at the Library sent in for her nomination:

  • Stephanie is one of those people you can absolutely count on for any number of things. She is organized and on top of just about everything that is happening in the Library. She also has an incredibly creative eye. She can develop materials and resources that look very professional and engaging at a moment’s notice. She is an incredible asset to the Library and helps everyone do their job better.
  • Stephanie has, on many occasions, done significant background research about materials and resources we were considering for the Library. She has a history of finding cost-effective ways to continue to provide creative services to our patrons.
  • Stephanie is active in her church and has stepped in to help with the Library staff chapels. She records the prayer requests and makes them available on the staff bulletin board.

The librarians and staff all join in congratulating Stephanie and thanking her for everything she does to make the Library a great place to work, research, or just relax.

Finding Books Made Easy

By Georgi Bordner, Head of Technical Services

Response GraphicIn our 2015 survey, we learned that some of you have trouble finding your way around the Library and locating the materials you need. We received comments such as:

  • “The second floor needs better signage for each book section. The organization is confusing and doesn’t follow the methods in public libraries.”
  • The Library is “not completely intuitive with where to find things.”

We understand that the Library of Congress Classification system (LCC), used by Regent and most other universities, may be confusing to those of you that are more accustomed to the Dewey Decimal system, used by most school and public libraries. But it’s really not hard once you get used to it! While Dewey uses numbers to define broad subject areas (such as 200 for Religion or 230 for Theology), LCC does the same thing with letters (B for Philosophy, Psychology, and Religion and BT for Theology). The first letter in each classification number represents a very general subject area or discipline, with an additional letter (or two) to break it down into more specific subject areas. Combined with numbers representing the most specific subject divisions, the LCC system allows large libraries to deal with a larger number of subjects, making it easier to find exactly what you’re looking for.

Here’s a very general outline of the LCC subject divisions, to give you an idea of how it works. If you’d like to explore the LCC system in more detail, check out: https://www.loc.gov/catdir/cpso/lcco/

A – General works
B – Philosophy, Psychology, Religion
C – Auxiliary Sciences of History
D – World History and History of Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, etc.
E-F – History of the Americas
G – Geography, Anthropology, Recreation
H – Social Sciences
J – Political Science
K – Law
L – Education
M – Music
N – Fine Arts
P – Language and Literature
Q – Science
R – Medicine
S – Agriculture
T – Technology
U – Military Science
V – Naval Science
Z – Bibliography, Library Science, Information Resources (General)

The_Library_of_Congress_Classification_System

Quick guide to Library of Congress Classification system

The best way to find books on a specific subject is always to look up the subject in the Library’s catalog to find the exact classification number. Once you find one book on your subject, others on the same subject will be shelved in the same area. But if you prefer to just browse the shelves to see what you can find, help is on the way! Posters illustrating the full LCC outline are being hung around the Library, and we are preparing additional signs that will make it easier for you to find your way around the stacks to the subject sections you need. We hope to alleviate your confusion so that you will never be lost in the Library again!

Book Discussion: A Pigeon and a Boy, by Meir Shalev

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U.S. edition, 2007

Meir Shalev is one of Israel’s most acclaimed novelists, whose works have been translated into more than twenty languages. The subjects of A Pigeon and a Boy are two of the most powerful human desires: love and home.

The title of the novel refers to a courier pigeon handler serving in the fledgling Israeli army during the War for Independence in 1948. For the author, the courier pigeon becomes a symbol of the human longing to return to one’s home. A Pigeon and a Boy intertwines and connects the stories of two couples: one from the 1940s and one from contemporary Jerusalem.

Original Israeli edition, 2006

Original Israeli edition, 2006

To help us explore this captivating work, Rabbi Dr. Israel Zoberman will lead our discussion. Rabbi Zoberman grew up in Israel in the 1950s and will provide insights into life in Israel in the early years following Independence. As readers who have attended previous Book Club discussions with him can attest, he is a terrific scholar, teacher and story-teller.

The discussion will take place on Thursday, April 14 at 1:00 in the Library Conference Room. Distance students and faculty are invited to join in via Google Hangouts.

For information about future book discussions at the Library, see the Library Book Club webpage.