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National Library of Israel Renewal

National Library of Israel Renewal

The Renewal of the National Library of Israel

Founded in Jerusalem in 1892, the National Library of Israel (NLI) holds the collective memory of Israelis of all backgrounds and faiths and the Jewish people worldwide. While continuing to serve as Israel's preeminent research library, over the past decade NLI has embarked upon an ambitious journey of renewal to encourage diverse audiences in Israel and around the globe to engage with its treasures in new and meaningful ways. This transformative renewal is taking place through a range of innovative educational, cultural, and digital initiatives, as well as through the construction of a new landmark campus, on schedule to open its doors in 2023.

Through mass digitization projects – of books, historical press, manuscripts, music, ephemera, maps, and so much more – as well as cutting-edge technologies and tools for accessing digital collections, NLI offers avenues for engagement with cultural heritage as never before. As part of this approach, NLI also actively seeks to establish relationships and foster collaborations with other libraries and institutions throughout the region and the world, thus further advancing knowledge sharing and open access to information on a global level, and ensuring that the treasures relevant to its mission are available to all, wherever they may be.

How right is the mission that the National Library of Israel has taken upon itself...To renew and transform itself into a vibrant intellectual center bridging the wisdom of generations past to the challenges of the present…The National Library is a home for all citizens of Israel, Jews and Arabs alike. We must all be open to the culture of our neighbor, the cultures of the region, and the cultures of the world.

Mr. Shimon Peres (z"l), Ninth President of the State of Israel

Building the New National Library of Israel

The New National Library of Israel:

In 2023, the new National Library of Israel, adjacent to the Knesset in Jerusalem’s National District, will open its doors. The new building will stand as an iconic architectural complex of aesthetic beauty and harmony, the embodiment of intellect, heritage, and culture.

NLI’s new landmark building and campus will be a magnet for visitors from Israel and around the world, coming to enjoy the magnificent structure, inviting gardens, exhibitions and cultural programs, and of course NLI's world-class collections. Each of these aspects of the new building serves as a significant drawcard in its own right. Together, they possess a powerful attraction, that promises to establish the National Library as one of the most visited and popular public spaces in Israel and the entire Middle East.

The new National Library was designed by renowned Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron, with Mann-Shinar serving as the Executive Architect. The new Library building and its surrounding gardens and plazas will reflect the central values of democratizing knowledge and making the National Library’s world-class collections and resources accessible to as broad and diverse an audience as possible. Within its 45,000 square meters (480,000 sq. ft.) of space, it will provide venues for exhibitions, research and study, cultural events and experiences, encounters, and educational programming in a secure, sustainable, and state-of-the-art environment.

Books and other physical works of intellectual and cultural expression will be housed in a central atrium, with a large window overlooking the Main Automated Stacks, whose state-of-the-art robotic retrieval system will be an attraction of its own. The Library's main public areas, including the exhibition spaces, auditorium, visitors center, and educational area, will be easily accessible on the entrance level. The four-acre campus is planned to be a haven of tranquility - with beautifully landscaped gardens, plazas, and outdoor spaces featuring an amphitheater and “Letters of Light,” a singular environmental art installation by world-renowned Israeli sculptor Micha Ullman.

The new National Library of Israel is the most exciting and significant institution to be built in Jerusalem in a generation and promises to play a profoundly significant role in Israeli life – and beyond – for generations to come. Even as many parts of the Library’s collections are digitized and made available online, the experience of great libraries throughout the world confirms that people continue to flock to library premises for the unique encounters with books and treasures, and other people, that only a physical space provides. A place of direct relevance and interest to people of all ages, backgrounds, and walks of life, the National Library is poised to become one of Israel’s most popular landmarks, a central hub for scholarship, education, and culture, a home for one and all, and a beacon of national pride.

Lead partners in the building renewal project are the Government of Israel, the Rothschild Family (Yad Hanadiv), and the David S. and Ruth L. Gottesman Family of New York.


© Herzog & de Meuron; Mann-Shinar Architects, Executive Architect