Have Library, Must Travel

To reach David Hirsch’s narrow, cluttered office at UCLA, you traverse bare, labyrynthine corridors in the basement of the University Research Library.

Hirsch, the Jewish and Middle Eastern studies bibliographer at the library, supervises a collection of treasures that range from a 1489 edition of Nahmanides’ commentary on the Torah to one of the best Ladino book collections anywhere. But the treasures remain largely unknown to L.A. Jews, as hidden as Hirsch’s office in the flourescent-lit, underground halls of the URL.

That is something Hirsch hopes to change.

Through his website and other efforts, the librarian is striving to increase public awareness of the library and also his fund raising endeavors. During the 1970s, there was plenty of state money for libraries to purchase books; not anymore. Finding funding is made even more difficult by the fact that there are several other prominent Jewish libraries in L.A., Hirsch says.