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Rare Books
Preserving Our Treasures  
Fragile materials must be 
handled with care.
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A YIVO conservator handling a damaged book.

About YIVO...


The YIVO Institute for Jewish Research was founded in Vilna, Poland, in 1925 and relocated to New York City in 1940. Our mission is to preserve, study and teach the cultural history of Jewish life throughout Eastern Europe and Russia.  Our educational and public outreach programs concentrate on all aspects of this 1000-year history and its continuing influence in America.  YIVO's archival collections and library constitute the single greatest resource for such study in the world, including approximately 24 million letters, manuscripts, photographs, films, sound recordings, art works, and artifacts; as well as the largest collection of Yiddish-language materials in the world.  For more information, click here.   

For more information:
visit our website 
 - call (212) 294-6128
 - write to us at:
     YIVO Institute for Jewish Research
      15 W 16th Street
      New York, NY 10011
Dear Friends,


With more than 385,000 volumes in its collections, the YIVO Library possesses the world's foremost collection of printed treasures in Yiddish, Hebrew and a variety of languages spoken by Jews in Eastern Europe.  It includes 40,000 volumes of surviving pre-war Yiddish books and periodicals known as The Vilna Collection, the largest such collection in the world.   Of this rare and irreplaceable treasure of books, pamphlets and newspapers, nearly half are in need of immediate preservation to prevent further deterioration. 


Pages are often too brittle to handle, spines and bindings are crumbling, and brown acidic spots spread unchecked in many unique works.  All this requires intervention by our professional conservators.  The process of preservation often involves patching damaged pages, encasing them in Mylar sheets and inserting the preserved pages or books into special boxes so they can be safely handled by the reader.  Numerous books have already been repaired and re-housed but there are many that still require attention. Physical preservation of just ten fragile books costs $500.  The cost of preserving YIVO collections could total more than $7million We need your help to accomplish this ambitious task.

March 2012 Open Book
Book pages preserved in Mylar sheets, 
stored in a special box.

In addition to physical preservation, our collections require digitization that will enable global access to our unique YIVO materials.   Because many of our YIVO Library treasures have already been microfilmed and are now accessible to the public, we have recently initiated new projects to digitize microfilms, while continuing our daily work of caring for our collections.  Physical and digital preservation on average costs $225 per book and our plans include digitization and online display of all Yiddish language publications available exclusively at YIVO.


YOU can help us achieve our goals of providing the best care for materials and widest access to our collections.  Support YIVO and the YIVO Library in one of our major endeavors:


1) Preservation and conservation (equipment, supplies, acid free materials for re-housing and repairing the books and periodicals)


2) Digitization and microfilming


3) Planning/publication of the YIVO Library online newspaper (highlighting ongoing conservation and digitalization projects, book events and achievements)


4) Sustaining YIVO's mission.




Lyudmila Sholokhova

Head Librarian, YIVO Institute for Jewish Research