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Gift to the Penn Libraries Creates Zilberman Family Director of the Lippincott Library and Positions Study of Jewish Sound to Thrive

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The University of Pennsylvania Libraries has received a gift from Stephanie Zilberman, WG’01 and Dan Zilberman, WG’01 that will both bolster the study of Jewish sound at the Libraries and foster the growth and development of Penn’s head business librarian. Reflecting the versatility of the Penn Libraries in responding to the needs of the Penn community, the $750,000 gift establishes the Zilberman Family Director of the Lippincott Library of the Wharton School and also supports the care and maintenance of the Libraries’ extensive Jewish music and sound collection, making it more available and accessible for study and research.

Stephanie and Dan Zilberman
Stephanie and Dan Zilberman

“As the world evolves, so too do libraries,” says Stephanie Zilberman. “From physical spaces to digital services, the Penn Libraries continues to provide critical and inspirational resources to the Penn community. In a world with seemingly endless sources of data and information, it’s more important than ever to have access to trusted information curated by the Penn librarians. I’m excited to help ensure the Penn Libraries remains at the heart of the Penn community.” 

Marcella Barnhart is the first Zilberman Family Director of the Lippincott Library of the Wharton School, which is located within the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center. Barnhart has been director of the business library since 2016, and previously held the roles of assistant director and business research librarian, for a total of 17 years with the Penn Libraries.  She is also a global leader among business librarians, having served as past chair of both the Academic Business Library Directors group and the College & University Business Libraries section of the Special Libraries Association’s Business & Finance Community. She is also a member of the EBSCO Business School Advisory Board. 

“I am thrilled that the Zilbermans’ gift recognizes and celebrates Marcella’s excellent work and expertise,” says Constantia Constantinou, H. Carton Rogers III Vice Provost and Director of the Penn Libraries. “When our talented library staff are celebrated at this level, it inspires them to further pursue cutting-edge work and thought leadership in their fields.”  

The Lippincott Library, founded in 1927 with a gift from Joanna Wharton Lippincott, daughter of Joseph Wharton, provides an extensive collection and wide range of services, including course readings on electronic reserve, document delivery services for requesting items, specialized training and virtual consultations with business research librarians, and more, with the goal to help Penn’s business community develop rigorous analysis and actionable knowledge. 

As director of the Lippincott Library, Barnhart provides leadership and planning to support the business research, instructional, and information needs of students, faculty, and staff. 

Barnhart says, “Support for the Lippincott Library director position recognizes the growing complexity of business research, with its increasing emphasis on large-scale data and analysis across business disciplines. This position provides leadership in developing the human capital, systems, infrastructure, and relationships to support these needs. I want to thank Dan and Stephanie for recognizing the value of high-quality information and data literacy skills in developing future business leaders at the graduate and undergraduate levels, and in supporting critical faculty research.” 

As Wharton alumni, Stephanie and Dan Zilberman used the business library resources for research and study while earning their MBAs. They also have a personal connection to Jewish music and sound, due to their eastern European Jewish heritage, that is reflected in their giving. 

“Our family has always viewed the music of our ancestors as an integral part of our history,” Zilberman explains. “I remember with fondness that my grandparents brought me as a little girl to a Klezmer music concert. As my husband and I think about raising our own children, we feel that preserving the music of our people is one way to help preserve the traditions so that our children and future generations can continue to hear them and keep the traditions alive.” 

“I am deeply grateful that the Zilbermans’ support will uphold the proud tradition of Jewish music and sound at the Penn Libraries,” said Constantinou. “This gift builds on previous generous gifts that created our esteemed Jewish sound archive and will enable scholarship in Jewish music and sound to thrive.” 

The Penn Libraries became one of the most important resources in the world for the study of Jewish culture, folklore, history, linguistics, and literature through the medium of sound with the establishment of the Robert and Molly Freedman Jewish Sound Archive in 1998. This archive contains more than 5,900 albums and offers musical recordings from around the globe in over a dozen different languages. The Libraries also enriched the collection in 2001 with the addition of the Harvey Sheldon Jewish American Music Video Research Library, which contains approximately 2,000 video titles featuring artistic works written, directed, produced, or performed by Jews for general as well as for Jewish American audiences. The new gift from the Zilbermans will enhance the care for this extensive collection while ensuring its availability for research and study.