News | June 29, 2011

Michigan State Receives Holtzman Israeli Literature Collection

The Michigan State University Libraries, together with the Jewish Studies Program in MSU's College of Arts and Letters, are pleased to announce a major gift to the University: the Irwin T. and Shirley Holtzman Collection of Israeli Literature.

Notable for both its breadth and depth, the collection covers Israeli literature from the earliest days of statehood in 1948 up to the present. Many of the volumes of fiction, poetry, and drama are inscribed by the author. Literary journals and literary criticism were also collected.

The published works are accompanied by a wealth of primary resources. These include manuscripts of poetry and drama; posters advertising literary events; political cartoons and other original artwork; and Irwin Holtzman's extensive correspondence with many important Israeli literary figures, including Amos Oz, A.B. Yehoshua, Amalia Kahana-Carmon, and Yoram Kaniuk.
The Holtzman Collection represents many years of passionate work by Irwin Holtzman, a Detroit-area builder and business owner. Holtzman began collecting books seriously in 1950. Architecture was his first focus, and fiction followed soon after. At one point, he actively collected as many as 350 different authors.

Holtzman's collection of Israeli literature was inspired by a 1973 visit to Israel, and signaled a special focus on contemporary work, as he told Nicholas Basbanes in an interview for Basbanes' book, A Gentle Madness: Bibliophiles, Bibliomanes, and the Eternal Passion for Books. He was a dedicated supporter of Israeli authors, providing financial assistance for translations and literary efforts. When Holtzman died in 2010, he was mourned by fellow book collectors around the world.

Holtzman was as generous in bestowing his books as he was dedicated to gathering them. His various collections are now housed at institutions as diverse as the British Library, the University of Illinois, and the Hoover Institution. "The MSU Libraries are extremely pleased to receive this wonderful gift of Israeli literature," said Peter Berg, head of Special Collections, "and we look forward to making it available to the MSU community."

"The Holtzman Collection will be a tremendous asset to teaching and research at Michigan State," said Marc Bernstein, professor of Hebrew. "Many of the literary works were printed in small quantities, and are no longer available. And, the correspondence and manuscript materials are absolutely unique and will be an important resource for scholars."

Kenneth Waltzer, director of MSU's Jewish Studies Program, agrees. "The Holtzman Collection is a major contribution to the advanced study of Israeli culture at MSU. With the continuing interest and support of the Holtzman family, we hope to organize scholarly conferences on Israeli literature, at the same time highlighting the Holtzman Collection."

For more information, please contact Seth Martin, Director of Development, MSU Libraries, Computing & Technology. Phone: 517-884-6446. Email: