A comparison of the documented concerns of American Jewry with the concerns expressed in accessible fiction about Jewish life published in 1930 to 1935 and 1970 to 1975 and suggested for young adult readers / June H. Schlessinger
Includes bibliographical references (p. 167-174)
Purpose. This study compared the documented concerns of American Jewry in the years 1930-35 and 1970-75 with the concerns of Jews as reflected in fiction about Jews, published in English in the two time periods, and recommended for young adults. Additionally, the study analyzed the accessibility of this fiction to young adults of the two time periods. Procedures. The documented concerns of American Jewry for the two periods were identified in the American Jewish Yearbook annual review of the concerns of Jews in America during 1930-35 and 1970-75. The two generated listings of documented concerns were sent to a random sample of 120 rabbis and Jewish secular leaders, who were asked to rank them according to importance. The data on the returned questionnaires were coded, keypunched on formated punched cards, and processed by computer to produce, for each concern, a frequency analysis, an analysis of variance, and a multiple classification analysis. These outputs were used to validate the population used for ranking and to assign an importance value to each concern. Fifty books published in 1930-35 and fifty books published in 1970-75, which met the requirements of the study, were identified in the literature search and read. Each documented concern included in a book was listed, and the following scale was used to assign values: four points for a value-one documented concern that was a major concern in the book; three points for a value-one documented concern that was a minor concern in the book; two points for a value-two documented concern that was a major concern in the book; one point for a value-two documented concern that was a minor concern in the book. A numerical value was calculated for each book by totalling all of the assigned concern values. Two comparisons were then made: the total value sum for the 1930-35 books was compared with the total value sum for the 1970-75 books; the distribution of values for 1930-35 books was compared with the distribution of values for 1970-75 books. The accessibility of the 1930-35 books was compared with that of the 1970-75 books by analyzing the data on their identification in the major selection tools of librarians. Results and Conclusions. The study revealed that there were three times as many fiction books about Jewish life recommended for young adult readers in 1970-75 as there were in 1930-35. Further, the number of recommendations in the least productive year of the 1970-75 period was almost double that of the most productive year in the 1930-35 period. The study further established that the correspondence between the fiction concerns and the documented concerns was greater for 1970-75 than for 1930-35, as demonstrated by the following findings: (1) The more highly-ranked documented concerns represented 87.9 percent of the concern recognitions in 1970-75 as compared with 41.1 percent in 1930-35 books. (2) The number of concern recognitions of non-documented concerns was slightly greater for 1930-35 books (77) than for 1970-75 books (68). (3) The 1970-75 books were more likely to be of greater point value than the 1930-35 books. (4) The sum of point values for all of the 1970-75 books (371) was greater than the corresponding sum of point values for all of the 1930-35 books (329). The study also demonstrated that the recommended fiction of 1970-75 was more accessible through librarians' selection tools than the 1930-35 recommended fiction since thirty of the 1970-75 books were found in major selection tools as compared with only two of the 1930-35 books, and the 1970-75 books were noted much closer to their date of publication than were the 1930-35 books.
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