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Celebrating the Partnership Between the National Library of Israel and the British Library

Mr. Roly Keating, CEO of the British Library, joined the National Library at Jewish Book Week in London earlier this year. He then came to Israel, where he gave a keynote lecture at NLI and joined a celebration of NLI-BL collaboration at the British Ambassador's home.


London's Jewish Book Week (JBW) the annual international cultural festival is one of the leading Jewish literary events in the world, now in its 65th year.


This was the National Library's first time participating in Jewish Book Week, and it was a privilege to have Roly Keating, Chief Executive of the British Library join our opening session, together with Dr. Aviad Stollman, NLI Head of Collections to discuss 'What Is the Point of a Library in a Digital Age?'


Jewish Book Week, January 2017


Adam Taub chaired a fascinating discussion where both speakers reflected on their personal experiences as users of libraries when they were children, and on how the role of Libraries has since evolved in the 21st Century – and in particular the dynamic role of national libraries in collecting, preserving, digitizing and engaging the public with our heritage.  


NLI also hosted two more sessions at JBW:

1) 'Jewish Venice' marking 500 years of the first Jewish Ghetto – which was an important center for Jewish printing. Dr. Aviad Stollman presented the 1609 Venice Haggadah in the context of the history of illustrated printed Passover Haggadot.

2) 'The Archive Thief'  - Hannah Rothschild interviewed Lisa Leff, whose prize winning book 'The Archive Thief' was researched in large part at the Central Archives of the History of the Jewish people.


At the Ambassador's Residence

The JBW session was a good preview for Roly Keating's visit to Israel a month later, to mark the British Library's partnership with the NLI through the KTIV International Collection of Digitised Hebrew Manuscripts, a global initiative shepherded by the National Library of Israel to make tens of thousands of Hebrew manuscripts from hundreds of collections around the world available to researchers and lay readers alike. Ktiv is a partnership between the National Library of Israel and the Friedberg Jewish Manuscript Society, with the support of the Israeli Ministry of Jerusalem and Heritage's Landmarks project.


The British Library holds one of the most important collections of Hebrew manuscripts anywhere. Its volumes encompass many areas of Hebrew literature, with Bible, Talmud, Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism), philosophy and poetry being particularly well represented.  While most manuscripts date back to the Middle Ages and Renaissance, some were written as recently as the 19th century.  


We celebrated this partnership at a special event hosted by British Ambassador David Quarrey at his Residence.

Photo by Louiz Green

The event was attended by Roly Keating, as well as Dr Alex Whitfield, British Library's Head of Learning and Patrick Fleming, British Library's Head of Business Change. We were honored to have Lord Rothschild, the Yad Hanadiv trustees and other special guests in attendance as well.

Photo by Louiz Green

Roly Keating's visit to the National Library of Israel culminated with his address regarding the future of libraries, Living Knowledge: The British Library in a Changing World.