Ordering Rare Items

Ordering Rare Items

Ordering Rare Items

What is a rare item?

The National Library has collections that include rare and valuable items of great importance in terms of the heritage of the Jewish people and the State of Israel. The value of these items is beyond measure, since in most cases, they are one of a kind: manuscripts of special value, a unique copy of an item of which no other copies were preserved in Israel or elsewhere in the world, etc.

Who is permitted to request a rare item?

The service is provided to registered readers who have also registered at the Circulation Desk for permission to inspect rare items. Orders and appointments must be made in advance. In order to preserve the state of these rare items, derivative copies (digital reproductions or photo scans) will be offered when available.

Such readers may then order a rare item for inspection. This is done online, through the Library catalogue.

Unregistered readers must first open a reader's card, read the guidelines, fill out a form and then approach the Circulation Desk with the necessary documents in order to obtain permission to inspect rare items (See point 3 below).

Please note: the NLI librarians have the discretion to approve or deny the request to inspect the original rare item.


How can I obtain authorization to inspect a rare item?

You must approach the Circulation Desk and present the following documents:
1. Photo identification: We will scan the document into the Library’s information system.

2. You must fill out and sign a request form to view rare and archival material.

3. Additional required documents (one of three possible options):
A. Yearly approval will be given to scholars, academic faculty and PhD and Masters students who must present an ID card from a recognized academic institution (valid proof of affiliation with a university or college).

B. Temporary approval - up to 6 months - will be given to: B.A. students upon presentation of a student card and a letter from the faculty office affirming the student's need to view the rare items. It is the student's responsibility to make sure the course lecturer or adviser passes the appropriate approval certificate to the faculty office.
Scholars from recognized independent research institutions can also receive approval. Official approval from the institution must be presented; we will confirm that the institution meets the required standard and that the approval is valid.
Scholars and students from abroad can also receive approval to inspect rare items, but must present official identification cards affiliating them with their respective academic institutions.

C. One-time approval - a limited period of up to one week - can be given to independent scholars, yeshiva students, school students and the general public, from both Israel and abroad.
A person who has arrived at the National Library and who does not possess the documents necessary to receive yearly or temporary approval but meets the other conditions may fill out a form stating the reason for his/her request to examine a rare item, in order to receive one-time approval.

4. You must sign the terms of use.


We reserve the right to inspect the request and transfer it to the Library’s security officer for further evaluation.

Please note: the NLI librarians have the discretion to approve or deny the request to inspect the original rare item.

How do I make the request?

Before making the request, you must arrange for permission to view rare items.

You must locate the item in the catalogue and click on "Order".

The request must be made prior to your arrival at the Library. The Library staff will check the condition and availability of the requested item, and schedule an appointment with you during which you will be able to view the item. In certain cases, the state of these rare special items is such that they cannot be viewed without first being checked and prepared. Therefore, viewing is only possible after the request is confirmed and an appointment is scheduled.

If you encounter an item which is not available for ordering through the catalogue, please approach the Circulation Desk.

If you wish to inspect the item over a long period, you will have to re-order it.

Please note: the NLI librarians have the discretion to approve or deny the request to inspect the original rare item.


Where can I view a rare item?

Rare items are viewed in the Special Collections Reading Room (Archives and Manuscripts Reading Room), located on the lower level (-1).

In order to preserve the state of these rare items, derivative copies (digital reproductions or photo scans) will be offered when available.

Upon reception of a request to view a rare item, we will check the availability of any alternate digital versions. If one exists, a link will be sent within one work day.

Viewing a rare item will be possible only after submission of the request and pre-scheduling an appointment.


Handling a rare item

Viewing a rare item requires extreme care. Please read and follow the guidelines for viewing rare and archival materials.


How can I make a photocopy?

• Rare items are not to be copied in a Xerox machine. Special photocopying equipment is available in the reading room.
• A digital photograph may be taken with the librarian’s approval, after receiving instruction on how to photograph the item so that it suffers no damage.
• It is possible to order a scan of a rare item through the Document Delivery Service. The service entails a fee, as detailed in the price list.

Guidelines for Handling Rare Books and Manuscripts

  • Minimize handling of the items.
  • Ensure that your hands are freshly washed and dried.
  • Food and drinks are not allowed in the rare book reading room, including closed water bottles.
  • Do not fold the corners of the pages.
  • No objects (paper, pencil, note pad, etc.) may be placed between the pages.
  • It is forbidden either to erase notes/signs on the original object, or write on them.
  • Refrain from touching the surface of the ink or illuminations, you may carefully turn the pages by the edges.
  • Only pencils may be used to take notes in the rare book reading room.
  • It is forbidden to use ink pens or markers in the proximity of the materials.
  • Always use appropriate supports (weights/foam wedges/adjustable book cushions) while the bound material is open (will be provided by the supervising librarian).
  • Bound material should not be opened any wider than the angle it can freely maintain.
  • Bound material must not be held open with heavy objects, hands, arms, other books, etc. If more supports or book weights are required, please ask staff to supply them.
  • After opening folded maps or documents, please make sure to fold them back the same way they were folded.
  • Gloves should be used when viewing photographic materials (please ask staff to provide them).
  • Do not leave the materials unattended. Notify the supervising librarian if you need to leave the room.
  • The reader will be held responsible for any damage that may be inflicted to the materials as a result of not complying with these guidelines.
  • Some of the items were photographed and documented before they were brought to the reading room.

Requesting to View Rare Material