“This is a beautiful but not a very useful article,” said Sol M. Strock as he received the great golden key to the new building of the Jacob H. Schiff Memorial Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary from the hands of Mortimer L. Schiff, son of the late banker and philanthropist. “No key is needed to this building. The library will always be open to serious students of every nation and creed. We’ll hang the key up outside the door as a symbol.”
The dedication of the library on Sunday afternoon began a week of dedicatory exercises for the new buildings of the Seminary that cover half a city block on Broadway and 122nd Street. The group includes the Schiff Memorial Library, the building of the Teachers’ Institute donated in memory of Israel Unterberg, and a dormitory of the latest American university type housing seventy-five students, built in the memory of Louis S. Brush. The building are constructed as one unit in horse-shoe form around a campus court. An imposing tower, suggesting the Babylonian in architecture, joins the Library and the Institute buildings.
Dr. Cyrus Adler, head of the Seminary, presided at the afternoon dedication of the library and the evening dedication of the Teachers’ Institute building. Both ceremonies were held under a large tent erected on the campus, and were well attended. The aged widow of Jacob H. Schiff, leaning on the arm of her son, came to the dedication of the library.
Professor Alexander Marx, librarian of the institution, pointed out that there are now approximately 100,000 volumes and 6,000 manuscripts in the collections.
Among the manuscripts are many rare and valuable documents, he declared.
“There exist, to my knowledge, only two other libraries of this sort, the library of the Hebrew Union College at Cincinnati, and the Wolfson Memorial Library at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.”
Among the speakers at the afternoon dedication were Dr. A. S. W. Rosenbach, president of the American Jewish Historical Society, which has exhibition rooms in the library building, who spoke of a plan for publishing a definitive history of the Jews on this continent, and Professor William Walker Rockwell, librarian of the Union Theological Seminary, the buildings of which are across the way from the Jewish institution. Prof. Rockwell complimented the librarian on his collection of manuscripts.
In the evening, Dr. William F. Russell, dean of the Teachers College of Columbia University, pointed out that the situation of the buildings so close to the University makes them an imposing part of what is perhaps the greatest educational center in the world. “Your institution bridges the gap between the spiritual past and our modern material age,” he said. He referred to the new arrangements by which graduates of the Teachers’ Institute on completing a further year at the Teachers College of Columbia University, may receive a degree from that institution.