Events Related to Israel Studies
AIS Statement on the Closing of Israel’s National Library
The Association for Israel Studies (AIS)—the leading international body that brings together scholars of Israeli history, society, politics, and culture from around the world—is deeply concerned about the impending closure of Israel’s National Library and the decision to send 300 employees home on unpaid leave due to a lack of funding.
In addition to its invaluable holdings of over 5,000,000 volumes that serve scholars and the broad public, it is also home to rare books and parchments, as well as archival collections of inestimable value to the work of studying Israeli society, culture, and history. Given this, the National Library is a vital asset to the AIS and to the scholars of Israel from around the world whom it represents.
A national library—the principal treasure trove of a society’s cultural creativity and of a civilization’s artifacts—is a vital asset to any state. Democratic countries throughout the world have recognized this by making sure their libraries have continued to function even in the current crisis.
Israel’s National Library is an expression of the greatest aspirations of the country’s founders, for whom the very purpose of a sovereign state was the ability to freely create a sovereign culture. The National Library is a foundation-stone of that culture and a record of the many cultures that have together come to constitute Israeli culture. We are extremely concerned that this national treasure might be closed.
Even prior to the current crisis, the National Library received substantially less state funding than equivalent institutions in the free world. We implore the Ministries of Education and Treasury to act immediately to provide the funding needed to allow the continued operation of the National Library—so vital an asset for scholars of Israel.