Stanford Hillel librarians retirement put on shelf

The funds had dried up. The 11th hour had passed without philanthropic heroics. The farewell luncheon for 20-year Stanford Hillel librarian Sally Wieder went on as planned.

By mid-June, she was gone.

But come September, the Saratoga resident will be back as a result of donations from about 20 members of the community, said Rabbi Yoel Kahn, Stanford Hillel's executive director.

"I was trying to hold back raising my expectations that some people would come through," Kahn said. "But I was thrilled, and the scope of their generosity surprised me."

When the contributions materialized, Wieder drew up a proposal for a reduced schedule, which she presented to Kahn and the Hillel board. The decision to keep her on for another year was made in late June.

Wieder hadn't been ready to see her 25-year career as a librarian end just yet. Nor was she anxious to leave her favorite Jewish library post.

"I'm very pleased. I love the library because I've watched it grow," she said. "Being able to stay means that all the organizational work of the library will be able to proceed as before. The library needs oversight because there are a thousand details."

During Wieder's tenure, the library has grown from 600 books to nearly 6,000; it also has 60 subscriptions to Jewish periodicals.

Wieder's schedule for the coming school year will be reduced from two days per week to one, along with one floating day per month.

Regardless, the library's hours will remain the same, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m on weekdays. The space will continue to be used as a classroom and Jewish meeting place.

A roster of about 14 volunteers will fill in the remaining staffing slots. However, time for special projects that Wieder had been working on, such as computerizing the card catalogue, will be limited.

This year, the library will operate on a budget of $12,000, a slight decrease from last year. Kahn declined to name individual donors who made it possible to bring Wieder back.

The Hillel board actually stopped funding its library two years ago, but members of the community stepped in each year to cover Wieder's salary and other operating costs. "It reflects both how important the library is to people and the high regard the community has for Sally," Kahn said.

Kahn and the board now plan to formalize a Friends of the Library fund "to ensure that there's stability in the library funding," he said.