National Library of Israel's Suspension of Services

August 17, 2020
by
Steven Weitzman

The National Library of Israel recently announced a 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.

The pandemic has had a terrible public health and economic impact on Israel. And yet, many libraries around the world, including Penn's, have found ways to maintain some level of services and to support their staff over the long stretch of the crisis, doing so through enhanced electronic access and in other creative ways. Of course, the pandemic requires the closing of many public spaces, but even in these circumstances, every ministry within the Israeli government was supposed to get 90 percent of the money budgeted in 2019, so many of those who rely on the library are struggling to understand why such a complete closure is necessary and are appealing to the government to reverse its decision.

For updated information on the situation, see the library's facebook page.

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About the Author

Steven Weitzman

Steven Weitzman

Steven Weitzman is the Ella Darivoff Director at the Katz Center and Abraham M. Ellis Professor of Hebrew and Semitic Languages & Literatures at Penn.

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