Traveling Exhibitions Exploring Jewish History and Culture


Applications are now closed.

Receipt Deadline: January 24, 2011

Notification: March 11, 2011

Questions? Contact the American Library Association at 1-800-545-2433, ext. 5045, or

Program Description

The American Library Association announces tours to public, academic, and special libraries, including museum libraries and Jewish community centers, of three small traveling exhibits, each focusing on Jewish artists who have contributed to the world’s culture through their lives and work. The exhibits were developed by Nextbook, Inc., and the American Library Association Public Programs Office, with funding from Nextbook, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting Jewish literature, culture, and ideas. The national tours of the exhibits have been made possible by grants from the Charles H. Revson Foundation, the David Berg Foundation, and the Nash Family Fund, with additional support from
Tablet Magazine: A New Read on Jewish Life.

The exhibitions (applicants may apply for only one exhibition):

1. In a Nutshell: The Worlds of Maurice Sendak

Popular children’s author Maurice Sendak’s typically American childhood in New York City inspired many of his most beloved books, such as
Where the Wild Things Are and
In the Night Kitchen. Illustrations in those works are populated with friends, family, and the sights, sounds and smells of New York in the 1930s. But Sendak was also drawn to photos of ancestors, and he developed a fascination with the shtetl world of European Jews. This colorful exhibit, curated by Patrick Rodgers of the Rosenbach Museum & Library in Philadelphia, reveals the push and pull of New and Old Worlds in Sendak’s work and shows how Sendak’s artistic journey has led him deeper into his own family’s history and his Jewish identity. While his early books dealt with his Jewish roots in the New World, Sendak has in later books turned to European settings and characters that show his fascination for his parents’ lost world and Jewish folktales, as well as his confrontation with the spectre of the Holocaust.

2. Emma Lazarus: Voice of Liberty, Voice of Conscience

Emma Lazarus was a fourth-generation American from a prominent Jewish family in New York City, a poet, critic, advocate for the poor, early feminist, and champion of immigrants and refugees. This exhibit, curated by Lazarus biographer Esther Schor, of Princeton University, traces Emma Lazarus’s life, intellectual development, work, and lasting influence, and reminds us of the iconic words of her poem, “The New Colossus,” engraved on a plaque now located in the Statue of Liberty Museum: "Give me your tired, your poor,/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” In Schor’s words, “She showed America how to become more generous, more noble, and more just. Her passion for justice lives on whenever we Americans dedicate ourselves to welcoming immigrants, training and educating the poor, and celebrating diversity.”

3. A Fine Romance: Jewish Songwriters, American Songs, 1910-1965

Americans have always responded to the optimism, the wit and sophistication, and the passion and verve of the standards that make up the “American Songbook.” The best songwriters associated with this era combined a genius for melody, memorable lyrics, and the ability to connect with a wide audience. A remarkably high percentage of these songwriters were Jewish by birth and heritage. In this exhibit, curated by essayist and poet David Lehman, and illustrated with colorful posters from Broadway shows and photographs of composers, singers, and the casts of hit musicals and films, we learn about the lives and works of Irving Berlin, George and Ira Gershwin, Harold Arlen, Jerome Kern, and a host of other Jewish songwriters who wove the American songbook deep into the fabric of American culture.

Please visit

to see exhibit images and scripts.

Exhibition Physical Details

Each of the three exhibits consists of eight 38” wide x 72” high x 1” deep panels printed in color on both sides. Each of the eight panels stands in its own heavy, triangular cardboard base. Panel bases extend 12” in front of and behind the panels. By putting the panels next to each other in a line, libraries will be able to fit the exhibition into spaces as small as 200 square feet (allowing viewing space on both sides of the panels), or they may use the panels in larger spaces.

Exhibitions will be delivered by the designated project shipper in two heavy cardboard boxes. One box (73” long x 40” wide x 6” deep) will contain the eight exhibition panels. A second box (62” long x 40” wide x 13” deep) will contain the already assembled cardboard bases. Instructions for putting up, taking down and packing the exhibition will be provided.

Requirements for Host Sites

  • Sites selected must agree to hold an opening event for the exhibition and at least two public programs for adults on themes related to the exhibition (one program may be combined with the opening event). Exhibition sites are encouraged to apply to state and regional humanities and arts councils for honoraria for lecturers or other program presenters.
  • The exhibit must be free and open to the public.
  • Each applicant must designate a project coordinator responsible for administering the project.
  • Institutions selected must sign a contract with sponsors agreeing to program and display requirements, including use of exhibition credit information on all publicity materials and websites.
  • Institutions selected must set up, take down and pack the exhibition according to the instructions provided, and must provide minimum security for the exhibition.
    Minimum security means that when the institution is open to the public, the exhibition should be monitored by an authorized staff member as frequently as is reasonable, especially during the library’s busy times.
  • Institutions must provide reports as requested by the exhibition sponsors, including an exhibit condition report, a final report on programs, publicity samples, audience figures and other pertinent information (forms will be available).
  • The project will repair reasonable damage to the exhibits, but institutions may be liable for major damage to exhibitions while they are in the institution’s care.

Award Information

Selected exhibit sites will receive:

  • One traveling exhibition for a six-week loan period between May 2011 and March 2012; shipping costs are covered by the project
  • An online resource notebook and press kit
  • Programming and technical support from the ALA Public Programs Office
  • A project discussion list for exchange of ideas and information


Public, academic and special libraries and Jewish community centers may apply.

How to Prepare and Submit an Application

The ALA Public Programs Office will accept applications for the Traveling Exhibitions on Jewish History and Culture at between November 10, 2010, and January 24, 2011.

Getting Started

To begin the application process, go to

There are seven main steps you need to complete in order to apply for an exhibit:

  1. Log in or register;
  2. Complete Project Coordinator information;
  3. Complete Exhibition Site information;
  4. Write the project narrative;
  5. List your scheduling preferences;
  6. List authorizing official and certify authorization;
  7. Review and edit your application;
  8. Attach letters of support from presenters and program partners;
  9. Submit your application.

1. Log in or register

Before you access the application, you must register to create an application account. To register, you must complete the project director information. The Project Director is the person completing the online form and is expected to be the primary point of contact for the project at the applicant institution.

On the registration screen, all information is required:

  • Project Director Email Address (Enter an email address that will be valid until at least March 30, 2012)
  • Project Director Password (must be at least 4 characters)
  • Confirm Project Director Password
  • First name of Project Director
  • Last name of Project Director
  • Name of applicant organization
  • Project Director Address (Street address or P.O. box)
  • Project Directory City/State/Territory/ZIP code
  • Project Director Phone Number
  • Select "Register" to register in the application system and save your Project Director Information.

After clicking the "Register" button, you will be able to return to the application at any time and log in using your e-mail address and password. This will allow you to edit, save, and return to your application as needed prior to the January 24, 2011 application deadline.

To log in using your previously entered information, go to

2. Complete Project Coordinator Information

You may save your work at any time by clicking the "Save" button at the bottom of this screen.

The Project Coordinator is responsible for reviewing all material related to setting up and taking down the exhibition, and for supervising and participating in these tasks. The Project Director and Project Coordinator may be the same person.

Please provide the following information:

  • First name of Project Coordinator
  • Last name of Project Coordinator
  • Name of Project Coordinator institution (if different from Project Director institution)
  • Project Coordinator First Class Mailing Address (street or P.O. box)
  • Project Coordinator City/State/Territory/ZIP code
  • Project Coordinator Phone Number
  • Project Coordinator Email Address (Enter an email address that will be valid until at least March 30, 2012)

3. Complete Exhibition Site Information

If your institution is selected to host one of the exhibits on Jewish History and Culture, where should the exhibit be shipped? In most cases, this will be the project director’s or project coordinator’s institution.

  • Enter the Name of the Recipient Institution
  • Enter a valid Shipping Address for the Recipient Institution (do not use a P.O. box)
  • Enter the name of a Local Shipping Contact Person, to whose attention the exhibit should be sent (this may be the Project Director or Coordinator
  • Enter an email address for the Local Shipping Contact Person
  • Enter the phone number for the Local Shipping Contact Person

Please then provide the following information using the dropdown menus:

  • Institution type
  • Community type
  • Size of population served
  • Exhibition site (if this is the Project Director's institution, please select "Project Director Institution" from the menu)

4. Write the Proposal

Write a narrative explaining why your institution would like to host an exhibit on Jewish history and culture. This is the most important part of your application.

The narrative must not exceed 8,500 characters, including spaces (approximately 1,300 words) in length. We recommend that you prepare the text using a word processing program. You can then "copy" and "paste" your essay into the online form. Note that the application system counts the number of characters (including spaces) you have used. If you exceed the character limit, you will not be able to submit your application until you revise your narrative to fit the space provided.

Please cover the following points in your narrative: (see application form for specific numbered questions)

  • Indicate the exhibit you are applying for from the drop down menu (applicants may apply for only one exhibit)
  • Reasons your institution would like to display the exhibit
  • Local resources and interests that support the exhibition
  • Ideas for at least two programs for adults and an opening event related to the exhibit
  • Possible presenters for the programs
  • Possible program partners in your community
  • If your institution is not a public library, how you will publicize the exhibit and programs to a public audience
  • The targeted audience for the exhibit
  • The current scope of your programming for adults
  • Whether your institution can provide a computer station near the exhibit for access to websites related to exhibition themes

After reviewing your application, you will have the opportunity to attach support letters from program partners and presenters. (See below)

5. Scheduling Preferences

The exhibition is scheduled to travel between May 2011 and March 2012. Using the provided dropdown menus, please designate three periods during which your institution, if selected as a host site, prefers to display the exhibition. Because we cannot guarantee that the exhibition will be available during one of your preferred periods, please also list three periods during which your institution will
not be able to host the exhibition. If you haev additional information about scheduling preferences to add to your application, please attach it as separate document (see #8 below).

6. Certify Authorization to Submit Application

Please certify your institution’s authorization to submit this application by supplying contact information for the director of your institution.

To complete this section, you must enter all of the following information:

  • First name of Certifying Official (director of institution)
  • Last name of Certifying Official
  • Title of Certifying Official
  • Email of Certifying Official
  • Telephone number of Certifying Official

When you have entered this information, check the "Certification of Authorizing Official" box to indicate acceptance of the following language by the Certifying Official:

By checking this box and submitting this application, the authorized representative for the applicant organization certifies that all statements contained herein are true and correct to the best of their knowledge and belief; and that the applicant organization is neither presently debarred, suspended, proposed for debarment, declared ineligible, or voluntarily excluded from participation in this transaction by any federal department or agency.

7. Review and Edit your Application

At this point, please review your application and make sure all information is correct. You may then click "Proceed" to upload supporting documents and submit your application.

8. Attach Supporting Documents

After clicking "Proceed," you will be taken to the final page. If you still need to make changes to your application, you may do so using the links provided.

At this stage, letters of support from presenters and program partners may be attached to your application for consideration. These files must be less than 3 megabytes in size, and should be formatted as plain text, Microsoft Word, PDF or RTF. (Other formats will be accepted, but we cannot guarantee that they will be opened.) To upload an attachment, click the "Choose File" button and select a file from your hard drive. Once selected, use the "Upload" button to attach the file.

9. Submit your Application

Once you have completed all parts of your application, you may submit it by selecting the "Submit" button.
All applications must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. C.S.T. on January 24, 2011. Applications submitted after that time will be considered ineligible. Note that once you have submitted your application, you can no longer alter it. The application will then be submitted for review.

You will receive via e-mail a confirmation of the submission of your application. At the confirmation page you will be able to print out a copy of your application, which you should keep.

Application Review

Selection Criteria

Applications will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • How well conceived the program ideas are and how likely they are to appeal to the intended audience
  • Appropriateness of possible program presenters for the project
  • Degree of support for the exhibit from the community and from partner organizations

Review Process

Each application will be assessed and assigned a rating by a review panel of librarians and representatives of other educational and cultural institutions. Final selections will be based upon the ratings and will also take geographical and demographic information into consideration.

Award Administration Information

  • Application Deadline: January 24, 2011
  • Notification of Selection: February 25, 2011
  • Final Report Due: 30 days after the end of the institution's exhibit display period

Award Notification

Applicants will be notified via email by February 25, 2011 of the outcome of their application.

Reporting Requirements

Award recipients will be required to submit a final performance report to the American Library Association 30 days after the end of the institution’s exhibit display period. The report form will be located in the exhibit’s online Site Support Notebook.

Points of Contact

If you have questions about the exhibits, contact:

American Library Association

1-800-545-2433, ext. 5045 (please include "Jewish History Exhibits" in the subject line)