Israel’s national library to help catalog 35,000 Hebrew books in Italy

The National Library of Israel is taking part in I-Tal-Ya Books, a new effort to create a unified listing of all Hebrew books in Italy.

The initiative, which will catalog some 35,000 books, is a collaborative effort by The Union of Jewish Communities in Italy (UCEI), the country’s EJC affiliate, the Rome National Central Library, and the National Library of Israel. It is supported by the Rothschild Foundation Hanadiv Europe.

According to the National Library of Israel, there have been Jewish communities in Italy for more than two millennia, and they have played a critical role in global Jewish history, particularly as a significant center for manuscript production and printing.

Italy is home to thousands of uncatalogued rare Hebrew books, dating back hundreds of years. They are found among collections belonging to local Jewish communities, as well as in libraries owned by the state, the Italian Church Institutions, and the Vatican.

Until now, there has been no single integrated and standardized listing of the holdings, making it difficult for scholars and historians to find books.

The I-TAL-YA BOOKS initiative will ensure the protection and preservation of the books, using technology developed specifically for the project. The Union of Jewish Communities in Italy will oversee the project, with the Rome National Central Library hosting the catalog, and the National Library of Israel providing the relevant training, support and expertise related to Hebrew books.

After an initial pilot phase that just ended, the full-scale project will include an estimated 35,000 volumes from 14 Jewish communities and 25 state institutions, and will take approximately three years to complete.


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