Israel's national library to freeze all operations due to major income loss

Budget cuts and the economic upheaval caused by coronavirus pandemic force the cultural institution to stop all public services and put some 300 employees on unpaid leave

The National Library of Israel announced on Tuesday it will suspend indefinitely all operations starting August 17.
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  • Services to the public will be frozen and 300 of its employees will go on unpaid leave.
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    מחאה למען הספרייה הלאומית
    מחאה למען הספרייה הלאומית
    Employees and students protesting the closure of the National Library of Israel
    The library's board chair, David Blumberg, and Library Director Oren Weinberg submitted on Tuesday an emergency request to the Education and Finance Ministries to help balance the library’s budget, which took a heavy blow due to large government cuts.
    Another factor for the library’s deficit is the country's dire economic situation caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
    Much of its income, particularly from donors, has been cut drastically as a result.
    In the letter, Blumberg and Weinberg urged the ministries’ chiefs to “help the National Library as was done for other bodies and institutions, so that the library can return quickly to its important and essential activity as the National Library of the State of Israel and the Jewish people.”
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    The National Library of Israel in Jerusalem
    The National Library of Israel in Jerusalem
    The National Library of Israel in Jerusalem
    (Photo: AFP)
    The library, situated on the Givat Ram campus of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, is reportedly experiencing a shortfall of NIS 11 million ($3.2 million).
    With some four million physical items stored in the complex, 100,000 of those considered rare - as well as 60 million digitized items - the closure of Israel's National Library could be the Jewish state's most prominent cultural loss due to the pandemic.
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