Jerusalem Post: Recently discovered 13th-century prayer by Ramban goes online. “A recently discovered poetic prayer written by the Ramban, or Nachmanides, the 13th-century Spanish rabbi and renowned author of commentaries on the Bible and the Talmud, has been translated into English and is now available on the website of the National Library of Israel.”
Katz Center, University of Pennsylvania: National Library of Israel’s Suspension of Services. “One of the greatest treasures of Israel and of Jewish academic life internationally is the National Library of Israel in Jerusalem. Recently, as a result of budget cuts and the Covid-19 pandemic, the library has announced that it will suspend public services and put its 300 employees on unpaid leave as of Monday, August 17. The many services that the library provides will cease, including the lending of books and teacher training, and there is great concern for the furloughed staff members and the larger circle of employees affected by the closure.” I’ve seen many national libraries cutting back on services, of course, but none that shut down so completely. Shocking.
Jerusalem Post: National Library of Israel to open access to 2,500 rare Islamic books. “The National Library of Israel, in coordination with the Arcadia Fund, has announced a major initiative to open digital access to over 2,500 rare Islamic manuscripts and books, according to a press release from library on Monday.”
Israel Hayom: Israel’s National Library to share oral histories of Sephardi Jews. “The National Library of Israel has begun publishing oral histories from the Sephardi Voices initiative, the first digital collection that documents and preserves the life stories of Jews who lived in Arab and Islamic countries. In addition to sharing video and audio clips of interviews, the National Library will also be making photographs from the archive public.”
Jerusalem Post: National Library of Israel uploads 120,000 historic books online. “The books that are expected to be uploaded will, according to NLI, include all of the library’s out-of-copyright, royalty-free books which have not yet been digitized. Around 45% of the books are written in Hebrew script in Hebrew, Yiddish, Ladino and other languages of the Jewish world. The rest of the works are in a variety of languages, including Latin, German, French, Arabic and Russian.” This is a project that’s expected to be completed in a couple of years, so the headline is a little premature.
Israel 21c: Israeli project seeks clues to old school photo mysteries. “As 2.35 million Israeli children head back to school this week, the National Library of Israel is hoping that a new Back to School online project in collaboration with Facebook Israel will help fill in missing information on many of its rare historic photographs.”
The Jerusalem Post: National Library Of Israel Releases Photo Archive Of IDF History – Pictures. “Thousands of photographs have been preserved at the National Library of Israel, documenting the operational history of the soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces, throughout the state’s history. The Library is bringing these photographs back to life through a digitization project, that allows the yellow negatives to be converted into high resolution images. However, the Library is lacking information relating to the identities of the soldiers and are requesting the public’s help to identify their names and stories.”
Israel21c: Israel National Library launches free Israeli music app. “Sing out! In the same spirit that only a few weeks ago launched a thousand images documenting Israel’s history for free use, the National Library of Israel, in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture and Sport, and the Digital Finjan project, have announced the release of Shiri, a mobile phone app for Israeli music.”
The Jerusalem Post: Opening The National Library’s Digital Doors. “A caricature of a balloon-headed prime minister Menachem Begin looks out from the cover of a pamphlet published ahead of the 1981 national election. ‘Begin… and the rest of the Likud’s jokes,’ it reads. The little green booklet is one of the millions of items and artifacts held by the National Library of Israel in its extensive archives. But until now, it was one of many items that the library did not earmark for digitization, because it is known as ‘orphan work,’ whose copyright holders cannot be located. Now, following an amendment to the Copyright Law passed in the Knesset on January 1, the library and other cultural institutions in Israel will have much greater freedom to digitize and share their vast holdings without the fear of lawsuits.”
National Library of Israel: The George Washington Thumb Bible Goes Online . “Some two centuries after it was published, a rare miniature bible dedicated to ‘His Excellency G. Washington’ has come to Jerusalem, where the National Library of Israel has made it freely accessible online for the first time. According to experts, less than a dozen copies of this edition remain in public hands.”
National Library of Israel: Historic Moment: The Günzburg Collection Made Public to the Jewish World. “An historic agreement will be signed in Jerusalem on 7 November 2017 between the National Library of Israel in Jerusalem, the Russian State Library in Moscow, and the Moscow-based Peri Foundation regarding the future of the Günzburg Collection, which includes some of the most important Hebrew manuscripts and books in the world. Through the generous support of the Peri Foundation, 2,000 manuscripts and thousands of books in the collection will be digitized, making these significant works accessible online to both institutions as well as to the general public.”
Miami Herald: Israel National Library launches digital manuscript archive. “Israel’s National Library has launched an online database aggregating tens of thousands of digitized Jewish manuscripts belonging to collections from across the globe. From Wednesday, scholars and laypersons can access almost half of the known handwritten Jewish texts from Spain to Afghanistan, which have been digitized and catalogued online.”
The National Library of Israel has created a new online exhibit called Napoleon Was Here!. From the splash page: “Having subdued Italy, Napoleon Bonaparte turned his gaze to Egypt as the next target of expansion. He believed that the Land of the Nile was the gateway to conquering the East, and in 1798 he set out to prove it to himself and to the world. The National Library contains a unique collection of more than 1000 documents from Napoleon Bonaparte’s time with his army in Egypt (1798-1801). Join us on Napoleon’s expedition to Egypt and the Holy Land.” I’ve linked to the English version. It takes a while to load on my crummy Internet, but it’s well done.