By: Hadassah Reich  | 

Getting to Know the Stern Library Staff Part I

As long as the Stern libraries are open, students can almost always be found doing work at the desks, using group study rooms, printing papers, and browsing shelves. The Commentator sat down with the librarian staff to learn more about the people who make this all possible.

Editor’s Note: This article was edited for clarity and brevity with the approval of Edith Lubetski, Rina Krautwirth and Rebecca Martin. 

Edith Lubetski — Head Librarian, Hedi Steinberg Library of Yeshiva University

Q: Why did you choose a career as a librarian, and was it always your plan?

A: I didn't initially consider becoming a librarian, even during college. My passion for Jewish education led me to contemplate an administrative role in the field but I didn’t know where I would fit in. But hashgacha pratit was at work, and after a class in Bernard Revel, Dr. Dienstag, the then librarian of Gottesman Library, approached a friend about a clerical position. Since my friend preferred part-time work, she asked me to share the job, which I did. As I delved into library work, I decided to pursue a Master's in Library Science at Columbia University School of Library Science. 

Q: What is the educational path for librarians? 

A: Librarians typically hold a Master's in Library Science (MLS). Many librarians pursue a second degree in a related field or enter library school with an additional degree. Specialized training is crucial based on the subject area or level of expertise, allowing librarians to work in various settings such as schools, public libraries, or specialized areas like law, medicine, music, art or engineering. All of the reference staff at Beren have advanced degrees beyond the MLS. I have a Master’s in Jewish Studies from Bernard Revel. 

Q: Describe your day-to-day responsibilities as the head of the library. 

A: As the library head, I function as an administrator, focusing on problem-solving and innovation. My days involve working with faculty, students, and staff, planning and implementing projects. For example, with Israel at war, we are currently working on a bibliography of recommended readings about Israel. We made a book display on the second floor library and we are posting on bulletin boards in and around the library relevant newspaper articles. Another project focuses on helping students gain greater access to texts. We asked faculty members who will teach the same class again to request students to donate their used texts so that the library can make them available for the next class. On a regular basis, I address issues such as staffing, collection building, renovation, developing new initiatives, and collaborating with various departments within the library system and other departments within Yeshiva University. The role is diverse, filled with both challenges and accomplishments. I am never bored. 


Q: What do you enjoy most about working at Stern and in the library?  

A: I enjoy working at Yeshiva University, and particularly on the Beren campus because of the people I work with and the mission of YU. I share the vision of YU, especially as articulated most recently by President Ari Berman. My children graduated from various YU schools and currently my grandchildren attend YU. I feel privileged to be able to share in the goal of educating generations of committed Jews. I am also fortunate to be working with deans, directors, faculty and support staff who are devoted to providing the best education for our students. My staff is superb and we work together seamlessly in seeking ways to provide the students and faculty with the best possible experience. When you feel you are working with your supervisor as opposed to working for that person, you are very lucky … My favorite part of working in the library is getting positive feedback from students and faculty about our services. When students appreciate our orientations, class instruction, and personal guidance, we are all gratified.  

Q: What unexpected challenges do you face as a librarian? 

A: The primary challenge is navigating within a limited budget. Balancing the desire to expand resources and services with financial constraints is an ongoing struggle. The issue of print versus  online is a challenge as the students are divided in their preference. 


Q: What do you wish students knew about the library? 

A: I hope students recognize the wealth of resources and services the library offers, especially our exceptional reference service. While some may rely on Google or AI for research, specialized databases provide more accurate and in-depth information. Faculty members note the improvement in student papers after library instruction, and encourage library engagement. One instructor required students to take a picture with a librarian, and another to locate a specific book. 

Q: Do you have any tips or advice for students? 

A: Take full advantage of our resources and services. Whether through in-person visits, emails, chat or consultations, don’t be shy, seek guidance from the library staff and you will achieve great success in your studies. 

Rina Krautwirth — Research and Instruction Librarian

Q: What is your role in the library?

A: Students ask me reference questions. I help students with things like looking things up using the library home page and also with more technical things, like students don’t always know where the printer is.

Q: Why did you want to be a librarian? Did you always know that this is what you wanted to do?

A: No, not always. I found a job as a librarian before I worked here, and then once I was working at that job to do more advanced things you need an MLIS (master's in library and information science). A lot of job descriptions for more advanced jobs as librarians will say MLIS, so I did that to do more advanced work than what I was doing. 

Q: What is your day to day like in the library?

A: I come in the morning, open the library, walk around make sure all the doors are open correctly in the study rooms, and put up a sign that says “happy whatever day it is”. I teach instruction classes, so I prepare for those. 


Q: What was your relationship with books/reading/libraries growing up? 

A: I used to read a ton actually, that's so funny you mention that. I read so many books. We had a library in my town and my mom used to take me and we would take out an armful of books and I would just read them. I read so many that we went to the library in the next town, but you could only take out five at a time because we didn’t live in that town, so my mom would take out five, I would take out five… I would get home from school and drink milk, eat a cookie, read a book…


Q: Do you have a favorite genre or book?

A: I majored in biology, so I like biographies of scientists. We have some good ones…


Rebecca Martin — Circulation Associate

Q: What is your role in the Hedi Steinberg Library?

A: I help out where I’m needed. I spend most of my time sitting at the desk and people come with questions. I’m there to answer or help or give directions. And we have different projects going on at all times, whether we’re taking inventory of the books or fixing this or fixing that. Someone will be like “I need help here” and that’s where I come in. I'm an extra set of hands. 

Q: Why did you want to work in a library? Did you always know that this is what you wanted to do?

A: I moved to New York in January for my graduate school program. I'm studying to be a teacher, and I knew that I needed a job during the day. I was really just looking into things, seeing what was available and this popped up and I was like the location is great, vibes are good, why not? I like books. 


Q: What was your relationship with books and reading growing up?

A: Really good. I fell in love with reading in third grade when I read the Percy Jackson series and I haven't put books down since. I spent a lot of time at the library picking up whatever I could find, I mean I liked it enough to want to become an English teacher.


Q: What do you wish students knew about the library?
A: They can really get any sort of research or citation. They are not in the research paper alone, we are all here to support. 

Q: Do you have any tips or advice for students?
A: I want to be like “don't wait until the last minute”, but like I waited until the last minute. Also, don’t read the whole article. You don't need to. Just find the parts that are important, skim through. Nobody is expecting you to read a dense long text. Save yourself the pain. 

Q: Are there any perhaps unexpected challenges you face working in the library?
A: I think the biggest challenge is not knowing things. I don’t have a degree in library science. My Judaic text knowledge is a little bit more limited. So someone will ask me a question and I’m like “I’ll totally have to do a big think about this”, but they are all very friendly challenges. I never feel scared to make a mistake. 


Photo Caption: Hedi Steinberg Library Staff (from left right): Edith Lubetski, Rina Krautwirth, Rebecca Martin

Photo Credit: Yeshiva University