National Library of Israel


August 13, 2022

The National Library of Israel (NLI; Hebrew: הספרייה הלאומית; formerly: Jewish National and University Library - JNUL, Hebrew: בית הספרים הלאומי והאוניברסיטאי), is the national library of Israel. It has more than 5 million volumes and is located on the Givat Ram campus of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The National Library possesses the world's largest collections of Judaica and Hebraica, and is the repository of many rare and unique manuscripts and books.


The B'nai Brith Library, founded in Jerusalem in 1892, was the first public library in Palestine for use by the Jewish community. The library was located on B'nai Brith street, between the Meah Shearim neighborhood and the Russian Compound. Ten years later, the Abrabanel Midrash library, as it was then known, moved to Ethiopia Street. In 1920, when the plans were drawn up by the Hebrew University, the B'nai Brith collection became the basis of a university library. The books were moved to Mount Scopus when the university opened five years later. In 1948, when access to the Mount Scopus university campus was blocked, most of the books were temporarily moved to the Terra Sancta University in Rehavia. At that point, the university collection included over a million books. For lack of space, some books were deposited in some warehouses scattered around the city. In 1960 they were moved to the new JNUL building in Givat Ram. At the end of 1970, when the new university complex on Mount Scopus was inaugurated, the humanities, law and social sciences faculties as well as departmental libraries were housed. In 2007 it was officially recognized as the National Library of the State of Israel after the passage of the National Library Act. The law, which came into force after delays on 23 July 2008, changed the name of the library to the "National Library of Israel" and temporarily transformed it into a subsidiary of the University, with the intention that it would later become completely independent, jointly owned by the government of Israel (50%), the Hebrew University (25%) and other organizations.

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