The National Library of Israel (NLI) has recently embarked on a transformative renewal process, driven by the principle of opening access to its exquisite collections for the benefit of diverse audiences in Israel and around the world. To this end, NLI has launched a number of new initiatives aimed at engaging Arab communities throughout Israel. These programmes harness NLI’s world-class collection of books, journals, rare manuscripts, posters, photographs, music, maps, and more.
One of the ground-breaking initiatives is Jrayed, a digitised database of nearly 100 Arabic newspapers and journals from Ottoman and Mandate-era Palestine. It is an open source of information that illustrates and celebrates the cultural, political, religious, and social life of the Arab community in the region during this period. Jrayed is the largest and most user-friendly digital collection of Ottoman and Mandate-era Palestine Arabic periodicals. The trilingual website, launched in September 2016, features more than 25,000 pages of high resolution images searchable by title, author, year, and location. The second project phase, already in progress, will include an additional 90,000 pages.
In making the NLI’s Arabic materials more accessible to the wider public, an Arabic language mobile app is being developed in collaboration with Tsofen, an organisation that promotes Arab integration into the hi-tech industry, and Haifa University. Thirty students took part in an intensive course to develop a mobile application based on the NLI’s digital collections.
The NLI has also developed a wide range of educational programmes for Arab and Jewish schoolchildren as well as cultural programmes for adults focusing on exploring Arab literature and different art forms. All of the programmes use the library’s sources and serve the aim of opening access to its extensive collections. One example of these is the summer programme run for Arab fifth and sixth graders from Umm Tuba, Beit Safafa, and Isawiya neighbourhoods in Jerusalem. Video of the programme can be found here.
Times of Israel: Israel’s National Library highlights Palestinian history