Digital Library > Time Travel > About the Project

About the Project

​Most Israelis enjoy an occasional foray into the Palestine of their grandparents, be it in Ottoman times, under the British Mandate, or in the early years of the State. Such journeys into the past are usually taken via books and films, though these often fall short of an authentic portrayal of the past. They present a filtered, rather than unmediated, account of everyday life and the public domain of the region.


A more reliable reflection of the reality at the time might be found in historical press resources, such as those available on the National Library's JPress site. Nevertheless, as we know, even the most diverse and dynamic of newspapers ultimately offer only a subjective perspective on social and cultural circumstances that prevailed at the time of their publication. Ephemera however, have the potential to provide us with a truly unmediated and authentic picture.


The term "ephemera" derives from the Greek word for things that last only a day. It is now used to refer to publications that were originally intended for short term use only: posters, publicity and advertising flyers, bookmarks and any other printed matter not produced for posterity. And therein lies the power of ephemera: these everyday items can be used to piece together the social norms, intellectual and political trends, cultural products, religious customs and economic realities of the time.
A glance at our surroundings, from bulletin boards, to mailboxes, storefront signs and more, illustrates the degree to which ephemera reflect public life on every level. From government agencies and large organizations to small, localized initiatives, ephemera are in evidence in all walks of life and every part of the country. Along this spectrum, different perspectives on various aspects of our lives are on display. This remains true, even today when so much of our public existence is mediated by the Internet, and it was most certainly the case in generations past.


 The Project

The objective of the "Time Travel" project is to collect and scan Israeli ephemera and make them accessible to the general public. The project is sponsored by the Arcadia Fund and is designed to include active public participation, not merely to deliver a final product. The National Library invites individuals who have collections of ephemera to make contact so that their collections can be integrated in the project, either physically or via digital reproduction. The public is also asked to assist in gathering information about such collections. All those who are interested in the documenting of Israeli society and culture are invited to participate in the National Library's efforts to gather contemporary ephemera. The project will involve recruitment of volunteers to describe and classify the ephemera uploaded to the Internet, as a means of drawing on the entire public's vast knowledge resources.


The main stages of the project are:

• Mapping of ephemera resources and collections all over the country –documentation organizations, archives, and private collections
• Digital scanning of ephemeral items
• Provision of public access to the times
• Public involvement in characterization of items
The project will take place over three years, and process 150,000 ephemeral items.
The project is a collaborative undertaking with the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), a world leader in the collection and scanning of ephemera. 



Project goals:

• Mapping of ephemera collections that exist in the Library and elsewhere
• Cataloging of items
• Scanning of items
• Design and development of a system to facilitate public contribution to information about items
• Digital preservation of items and provision of accessibility