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Extensive Holocaust book collection donated to public library

Carol Alter (left) presents plaque to Rockville Public Library director Donna Enman that reads: In honor of Dan Leblanc who has donated this library in order to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive.

The Rockville Public Library is now one collection richer, thanks to 270 Holocaust-related nonfiction books donated by local resident Dan Leblanc.
Leblanc first gave his collection to Congregation B’nai Israel in Rockville in 2006, where it was housed in the library and used by the synagogue’s book club, says congregant Carol Alter. When the congregation merged with Temple Beth Sholom of Manchester in 2009, “we wanted to house the books where they’d be appreciated,” Alter says. Congregant Corinne Fisher, who serves on the library’s board of trustees along with Alter’s husband, David, proposed that the library adopt the collection.
Director Donna Enman was co-director at the time. “We thought, ‘If it’s as good as we’ve been led to believe, it’s something we should have in our library,’ – not for any religious significance, but maybe we can learn from the mistakes of the past and not repeat them,” she says. “As we started to unpack, we realized that we had something wonderful – each book is unusual, addressing different aspects of the Holocaust; many are by noted authors, but many are by authors nobody’s ever heard of. I’m very lucky to have this collection.”
Enman says that both she and Leblanc, while non-Jews, share an interest in World War II history. Enman’s uncle was one of the American troops who liberated Auschwitz, and she studied the period extensively at university as a double major in history and English. The library has just launched a capital campaign to upgrade its 100-year-old building, and the resulting expansion will provide more adequate space for the collection as it develops. Leblanc recently donated more than 400 World War II-related DVDs to the University of Hartford, and Enman hopes to add DVDs to the Rockville collection.

The Holocaust book collection at Rockville Public Library.

The two plan to design educational programs that make use of the books. “Most of the people who fought in World War II are dying off and if we were smart, we got oral histories from them,” Enman says. “I’ve heard kids say that the Holocaust didn’t happen, so that’s why I feel this collection and any related activities are essential: as educators, we have to make people understand that violence begets violence. If we don’t know about the Holocaust, how can we prevent it from happening again?”
Enman plans to make the collection available to local schools starting next year.
After months of classifying, cataloging, and rejacketing, the Dan Leblanc Collection of Holocaust Books was dedicated in the library’s main reading room on June 5. Beth Sholom B’nai Israel member Hanna Marcus of Vernon, who was born in a displaced persons camp after her mother survived the Holocaust, presented her personal story as the keynote address.

To learn more visit www.rockvillepubliclibrary.org

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