Rare Books Collection – Topics, Services, and Challenges
In the area of print, the Collection consists primarily of the Hebrew book. Most of the Hebrew Incunabula books that we currently know of are represented here at the Library. Some of the copies are the only ones to have been preserved to this day. Later periods in Hebrew print are represented by materials from the whole of the Diaspora, in the different languages using the Hebrew letter – Arabic, Yiddish, Ladino, Persian, Tatar and more. Important Latin materials have also been collected, from the period of the Incunabula to unique modern books. Among these are quite a few publications dealing with Jewish studies, history, art, and more.
Among the rare books are special copies of books containing the handwritten remarks of important figures, as well as hundreds of books with autographs or dedications, mostly by friends.
The Rare Books Department works in cooperation with the Catalogue Department on print publications. Although manuscripts are kept at the department, most of their care is the responsibility of the Department of Manuscripts. The subject of preservation conditions is the responsibility of the preservation and restoration lab.
Researchers studying rare items receive and view them in Special Collections Reading Room.
The process of scanning and making rare books accessible online is already under way today. The challenge is to have the entire collection scanned and accessible in a few years, in keeping with copyright limitations.
Scholem reading room (printed items) or the Manuscripts reading room.