The National Library of Israel, which will soon celebrate its 120th anniversary, is undergoing a comprehensive process of renewal. The renewed Library will respond to the needs, values, challenges and technological developments of the 21st century. It will collect and preserve expressions of Israeli and Jewish culture throughout the generations, provide the finest, up-to-date services to the wider public and to researchers, and play a major role in the cultural and spiritual life of all the inhabitants of Israel and of the Jewish People the world over.
One of the Library's major goals is to disseminate knowledge and cultural riches to as wide a public as possible. With this in mind, the Library will strive to offer open access to its treasures, and to impart them by means of educational and cultural activities in both physical and virtual space.
The process of renewal is progressing along two parallel trajectories. The first is the relocation of the Library to a new building which will provide enhanced public access and be tailored to the Library's needs. The second, already underway, endeavours to revitalize the existing organisation; expand collections; update services and work procedures through the integration of advanced technologies; and broaden the Library's role as a national centre of education and culture. Our aspiration is to enable the Library to take full advantage of its new premises and begin realizing its vision, immediately upon relocation.
The architect who will be entrusted to design the new building will be chosen in the architectural competition currently being launched. We have taken great pains to ensure that the competition is fair and transparent by making it publicly visible, opening it to all Israeli architects and by maintaining the anonymity of competitors.
As a basis for the design proposals, we have prepared a brief for the new building that elaborates the Library's needs. The guiding principles underlying the planning are presented in Chapter 2 of the brief. However, it should be emphasized that the building is not a goal in itself, but rather a means to realize the Library’s mission and roles as a major national heritage institution. The challenge facing you, the architects, is great: you are being asked to design a structure that will be – as a whole and in its smallest detail – both functional and aesthetic.
A National Library that painstakingly and effectively preserves cultural and spiritual assets and disseminates their content is a mark of an enlightened society, and an essential condition for the continued existence and development of such a society. By striving to provide access to as many resources as possible, and by offering a host of educational and cultural activities, the Library will reach broad sectors of the population and have an impact on the country's cultural agenda. We hope not only to approach educated strata outside of academia, but even to enlarge their ranks; to widen the public's horizons; encourage familiarity with other cultures and openness to a diversity of ideas and attitudes; and to deepen knowledge in areas of interest, making use of the very best sources of information. Achieving these objectives will fulfil a national need of the highest order.
The Competition gives you an opportunity to contribute to advancing the goals and the values upon which the vision of the renewed Library is based. We encourage you to unleash your imagination and your creativity, and eagerly anticipate your proposals. Best of luck!
Chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Library
Jerusalem, Kislev 5772, December 2011