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AJL Statement on the National Library of Israel

The Association of Jewish Libraries views with concern the news about recent attempts by the government, originally suggested by Israeli Education Minister Mr. Yoav Kish, to allow for increased controls over the National Library of Israel (NLI), including the ability to make appointments to key administrative positions.   

This is in direct contradiction to the National Library Law that established the NLI in 2007, especially the following clauses:

Independence: The Company will operate in an independent manner and shall act as it deems fit within the limitations of its Articles (as defined below), its budget and this Law.1

The Association of Jewish Libraries strongly supports libraries as independent entities, separate from political squabbles. In the case of a National Library, the freedom to collect comprehensively is vital in forming a collection that reflects the diversity of voices in the country and preserves them for future generations. The appointment of library administrators should be based on expertise and qualifications relating to their positions, not on the whims of the party in power.

The historic mission of the National Library of Israel is to “collect, preserve, develop and endow collections of knowledge, heritage and culture in general and those of the Jewish people, the State and the Land of Israel.” It is critical that the government respects the Independence clause, leaving the collecting, preserving, and making available of library materials to librarians and archivists and the overseeing of these professional activities to the National Library’s Council and Board of Directors it independently selects.

1. The National Library Law – 2007,

View the full statement in English and Hebrew.

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