Digitization Projects History at the Leo Baeck Institute

LBI Archives

DigiBaeck (old.lbi.org/digibaeck), a digital gateway to LBI’s archive, was launched in 2012, funded through a private initiative, and provides free online access to the collection of primary source materials at the Leo Baeck Institute encompassing five centuries of Jewish life in Central Europe.

DigiBaeck includes more than 3.5 million pages of material that ranges from the personal papers and photographs of luminaries like Albert Einstein and Moses Mendelssohn to letters, diaries, recipes, and other ephemera chronicling the lives of everyday people.

For the launch, Leo Baeck Institute partnered with Internet Archive, non-profit digital library that offers permanent storage of and free public access to digitized materials, including websites, music, moving images, and nearly three million public-domain books.

New LBI Archival Collections  are being digitized on an ongoing basis, partially supported by funds from the German Foreign Ministry and private Foundations.

In 2018, the Metropolitan New York Library Council  funded the digitization of the Rachel Wischnitzer Collection and the Gaby Glueckselig Collection.


In 2017, LBI launched the Edythe Griffinger Art Catalog thanks to a gift from a trust under the will of the late Edythe Griffinger . The grant funded  the development of a new online portal for digitized artworks and supported the work of curators and librarians who selected the most important works and improved the metadata in the catalog to facilitate discovery of works that have rarely been on public display.

More than 1,200 items are now available at old.lbi.org/artcatalog, and staff is working to add more of the nearly 8,000 items in the art collection. For a comprehensive search of all digitized material in the LBI art, archival, and library collections, please consult DigiBaeck.

LBI Library – Rare Books

The digitization of the library collection of  the Leo Baeck Institute started in 2005 with the  digitization of parts of the rare book collection thanks to a generous grant from the Metropolitan New York Library Council  (METRO).
In January 2005, METRO had launched its Digitization Grant Program as an effort to support digitization projects involving significant collections held by METRO member libraries in New York City and Westchester County. This initiative was and is supported in part by funds from the New York State Regional Bibliographic Databases Program.

A second Metro Grant provided funds to digitize a collection of rare  artist portfolios in 2008.

Private digitization funds were used to digitize important 16th century texts from “The Rare Book Collection of Frank L. Herz.”  This collection focuses on the famous Renaissance controversy between the Christian Hebraist Johannes Reuchlin and the anti-Jewish agitator Johannes Pfefferkorn, who was trying to lobby for the destruction of all Jewish books.

Another privately funded project was the digitization of a collection of books designed by Ephraim Moses Lilien (1874-1925) an internationally renowned Austrian illustrator and printmaker who is often considered as the most prominent Jewish artist to be associated with Art Noveau or Jugendstil.

The Cahnman Foundation, New York, funded the acquisition and digitization of  “The Library of Book Designs by George Salter (1897-1967).”  For background on this project, please see this brief interview with Prof. Thomas Hansen, who collected the 300 books, book covers, and individual graphics.

In 2011 we were awarded a joint NEH/DFG grant together with the Judaica Collection at the University in Frankfurt to add books to the so-called Freimann Collection. The $180,000 grant allowed the LBI library to digitize about 1,000 books that have been identified as missing from the Frankfurt Library’s Judaica collection as reported in the New York Times. The project was successfully completed in 2014. The project is described in this 2015 IFLA article: The challenges of reconstructing cultural heritage: An international digital collaboration.

Library Periodicals
In 2012 the LBI Library digitized Aufbau,  the leading exile journal for German-speaking Jews, which was published between 1934 and 2004.  The project was funded by the Metropolitan New York Library Council.

In 2012,  the LBI library also started to digitize other titles from its rich periodicals collections. Funding was provided by the Metropolitan New York Library Council and private donors and the periodicals were digitized from existing microfilms. -Since 2017, the Gruss Lipper Digital Laboratory at the Center for Jewish History has digitized 110 periodical titles directly from the original periodicals.
In addition, the LBI Library is pursuing grant application together with the Judaica Collection in Frankfurt to also add the LBI digitized periodicals  to the Frankfurt Collections Portal.  60 digitized periodicals from the collections of the Leo Baeck Institute  are currently being added to the Frankfurt Compact Memory Portal

As of January 2019, 227 periodicals have been digitized and are accessible online; about 30 additional titles are in process.

Send questions or comments regarding the LBI Library digitization projects to Renate Evers, Director of Collections, at revers@lbi.cjh.org


Last Updated 01/2019