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Library information page for the Katz CAJS Fellows: The Library

Welcome to the Library at the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies (LHDKCAJS). The Center (formerly the Annenberg Research Institute) is the successor to the Dropsie College for Hebrew and Cognate Learning. Like its predecessor, the mission of the Katz Center is to advance the study of Judaism in a non-sectarian and non-theological context.

Dropsie College was the first state-accredited academic institution in the world to confer Ph.D. degrees in Judaic Studies. In the course of its nearly eighty years of existence, from 1907 through 1986, the College awarded more than 200 doctorates and became a major training center for the country's Judaic scholars. Throughout those years it was the publisher of the Jewish Quarterly Review, the oldest continuously published English-language journal of Jewish Studies and one of the most respected scholarly journals in its field.

In 1986 Dropsie College was transformed from a graduate school into the Annenberg Research Institute (ARI), a center for post-doctoral research in the comparative history and traditions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The ARI initiated a year-long residency program, granting fellowships to distinguished scholars from all over the world. In 1993 the Institute merged with the School of Arts and Sciences of the University of Pennsylvania to form its Center for Judaic Studies. The Center was renamed the Center for Advanced Judaic Studies in 1998 and became the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies in 2008.

The Library at the Katz Center holds approximately 200,000 volumes, including seventeen Hebrew incunabula, fifteen Latin incunabula and over 8,000 rare printed works in Hebrew, English, German, Yiddish, Arabic, Latin and Ladino. The rare Hebrew editions offer specimens from a variety of Hebrew printing houses around the world; particularly strong are holdings of early modern rare books printed on the Italian peninsula, including nearly 20 percent of all Venetian Hebrew imprints. The Library's special collections of non-print materials include 453 codices written in eleven different alphabets as well as in twenty-four different languages and dialects as varied as Armenian, Hebrew, Judeo-Arabic, Syriac, Yiddish and Telugu.

The University of Pennsylvania's Judaica collections are dispersed among five main locations: the Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, Van Pelt (the main library at Penn), the Fisher Fine Arts Library, the University Museum, and the Biddle Law Library. The combined holdings currently total between 350,000-400,000 volumes. Quantitatively, this amounts to one the largest Judaica collections in the world. Qualitatively, these holdings cover almost every period and area of Jewish life from the Biblical era to contemporary America, and support both undergraduate education and advanced research.

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