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The Holocaust: Learn and Remember

San Antonio Public Library, TX

Innovation Summary

The San Antonio Public Library and the Mazal Holocaust Library collaborated in 2013 to produce a moving photograph exhibit and an impactful series of events called The Holocaust: Learn and Remember.

Innovation Leader: Joel Bangilan, Branch Services Coordinator, joel.bangilan@sanantonio.gov

Problem Statement

Although one of the most documented events in history, the Holocaust still faces denial. Additionally, recent headlines read of moments of intolerance, bullying, and discrimination that may lead one to believe perhaps society has forgotten that the events and actions, which led to the Holocaust, are so easily repeated. That tragic road is steep; and our communities risk travelling down that course again if we are not reminded of the victims, the heroes, and the history of the Holocaust. Capitalizing on the transformative power of information, the San Antonio Public library sought to reveal truth by providing a public and larger-scale avenue than what the Mazal Holocaust Library could do on its own. The partnership resulting in the exhibition of photographs and production of events created a dialogue with the community that challenged the audiences to LEARN and REMEMBER.

Innovation

This partnership utilized the assets of both organizations. The public library’s open forum, wider audience, and resources provided by the Foundation augmented the reach of the message that the Mazal Holocaust Library houses. The goals were to reveal truth, build tolerance, remember history, and extend learning. The innovation was to create a partnership that never happened before and to utilize a space uncommonly staged for exhibits. This new partnership engaged the community first by building a photograph exhibit of images and documentation of the Holocaust. The community was challenged to remember world history and the outcomes of intolerance and discrimination. Four library events were produced to feature the eyewitness accounts of a Holocaust survivor. Thee other events focused on the literature and arts relevant to the Holocaust. And the remaining events were designed to teach children tolerance so that an upcoming generation would learn from the experiences. To reinforce the information shared the Mazal Holocaust Library developed a special website for the month long observation. The San Antonio Public Library developed an online guide of sources to further learning of the Holocaust. The combining the resources, efforts, and attention was truly an innovation in engaging the public in civic and community responsibilities to tolerance and diversity.

Progress

A month long observance was planned. Opening day of the exhibit attracted over 80 people from the community. A proclamation regarding Holocaust Remembrance Day or Yom Hashoa was drafted. The scheduled events featuring Anna Rado and Rose Williams increased with attendance as each event came. The first of the survivors to speak, Ms. Williams, attracted over 120 people. Her next event had well over 125. Ms. Rado spoke to an audience of 210. There has never been such precedence in adult branch programming. Many participants responded to the speaker and their messages in very positive ways. One woman said that her grandfather was in a camp. The library’s program and exhibit was a great honor to her family. She was moved to tears hearing Ms. William’s story. It was noted by staff that there were many new library customers and they expressed a new awareness of libraries due to the personally relevant programming. The final event will be on April 7, 2013 and the library is expecting an even greater audience. These programs demonstrated the importance of building tolerance, and fighting discrimination in our communities and appreciating diversity in our society.