Esther Lang has been a librarian at the Assyrian Cultural Foundation’s Ashurbanipal Library since July, 2018. Because of her appearance and last name, visitors to the library rarely assume that she understands their Assyrian conversations. However, she usually does, because, although her father is not Assyrian, her mother is an Assyrian from Iran.
Esther was born in Chicago, but grew up in the neighboring suburb of Skokie, Illinois. She graduated from Taylor University in Indiana in 2012, where she majored in history and minored in Biblical languages. It was while trying to write several research papers about Assyrians for her history classes that she first came to realize how, compared to many other history topics, resources about modern Assyrians are heavily lacking.
After graduation, Esther was a Collections Intern at the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Skokie, where she worked in the museum’s archives. Afterwards, she decided to become a librarian, and graduated with a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign in 2015. She has worked at two other libraries prior to coming to the Ashurbanipal Library.
Esther believes that her arrival at the Ashurbanipal Library was not a coincidence. In the summer of 2018, she wanted to see the library’s new location, since it had moved from Chicago to a suburb called Lincolnwood a few years earlier. Upon arrival, she ran into the ACF’s music teacher, Rasson Betyonan, who was a friend of the family. From him, she learned that ACF was searching for someone to organize its library. What were the chances that she happened to visit ACF at that particular time, and that she was an Assyrian, a librarian, and already had experience cataloging books? She had been searching for ways to become more connected with the Assyrian community, and then this opportunity came to her without having even looked for it.
In December, 2020, Esther finished cataloging the Ashurbanipal Library’s 6,500 books. Hopefully, people will soon be able to search and see what book titles are available at the Ashurbanipal Library. Esther hopes that this cataloging project will help make people more aware of what resources about Assyrians currently exist, and assist researchers in creating more academic material about Assyrians in the future. Eventually, the Ashurbanipal Library hopes to make its older books, newspapers, and magazines (which do not fall under copyright laws) available for free online