About Manuscripts

  • What is a shelf number of signature?

    The manuscripts in every library or collection are numbered. The shelf number is the serial number of the manuscript in the library or collection. This number is the sign used to identify the manuscript and through it you can find the particular manuscript you are searching for. Sometimes there is a running number for manuscripts and sometimes there are a few different groups of manuscripts (sub-collections) that are numbered separately (for example, if they arrived in the library from various sources or are arranged by subject).

  • What is a catalog number?

    Some libraries or collections have a catalog of their manuscript holdings. The catalog contains descriptions of all or a portion of the manuscripts. Important information is given about each manuscript, such as its content, physical state, place and date of origin, and more. Manuscripts in the catalog are numbered, and this number is the catalog number of the manuscript. This number is different from the shelf number (see above). Some collections or libraries do not have a catalog of their manuscript holdings, and others have more than one catalog.

  • What is the difference between a page and a folio?

    Each folio has two sides which are the pages. Sometimes, the two pages of each folio are numbered (as are the pages in a printed book today), and sometimes the pages are numbered on only one side. In order to distinguish between both sides of the numbered page, letters (either in Hebrew or English) are used: side a or side b (or for example, 65א or 65ב, or abbreviations of the Latin words, recto [r] and verso [v], as in 34r or 34v).

  • What type of use is permissible with manuscripts?

    Most of the manuscripts displayed on the website can be freely viewed from any location and shared on social networks. A small number can only be viewed on the library’s computers. For additional uses of manuscripts such as downloading, printing, publication, etc., each library defines the terms of use of the manuscripts in its possession. The National Library is obliged to note next to each manuscript the appropriate terms of use according to the originating library. The basic principle is that with every use of a particular library’s manuscript, credit must be given using the wording that appears on the website. Another principle is that for any use that is not expressly permitted, prior written approval must obtained from the library of origin. [For details on all the terms of accessibility].

  • How can I obtain images of a manuscript?

    Some libraries allow you to print the manuscript directly from the website. To receive a high quality image you must contact the originating library directly. Contact information of libraries is specified in the terms of use of the manuscript.

    In case there is no scan of the manuscript and the user would like to receive a scan of the microfilm in the National Library, the reader should contact the National Library along with written permission of the originating library. If the reader wishes to obtain an image that was already scanned specifically from the National Library and not from the originating library, the reader should contact the National Library with permission from the originating library. There is a service fee as specified in the Terms of Service of the National Library.

  • How can I publish images from a manuscript?

    Some libraries allow publication of an image from a manuscript without receiving permission in advance, while giving proper credit to the library. Most libraries require that the reader will apply to for permission to publish the image. Contact information of libraries is specified in the Terms of Use on the manuscript webpage.


About Ktiv

  • What does Ktiv mean or stand for?

    Ktiv is a Hebrew word – that translates approximately to "the written word". It has assorted connotations relating to hand-writing and hand-written – that are at the core of the project.

    The goal of the Ktiv project is to enable open global access to the public of all the known Hebrew manuscripts – around the world. These are hand-written text, in Hebrew letters. These manuscripts document, explain and express the cultural, religious, social, and scientific world of the Jews around the world through the ages. As such we have established partnerships around the world with institutions that hold Hebrew manuscripts in their collections. We do not aim to "own" the manuscripts, but rather to facilitate the digitization process that will allow for global open access.

  • How close to completion is the Ktiv project? What other planned collaborations are in the pipeline?

    Number of collections accessible on Ktiv: Information about the project's progress appears on the Ktiv homepage, including the number of accessible collections, number of manuscripts accessible on the site, total number of files scanned thus far, and percentage complete. Partner collections include the British Library, the National Library of France, the National Library of Russia, the Palatina Library in Parma, the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in Budapest, the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York and more.

    Number of Hebrew manuscripts worldwide: The estimate is that there are between 85,000 and 100,000 Hebrew manuscripts worldwide. The number of manuscripts from international collections that have already been scanned and made accessible on the website appears on the homepage of the website and is updated weekly.

    Future agreements: The NLI in collaboration with FJMS aims to sign agreements with all known collections, in order to digitize and make accessible to the public as many manuscripts as possible.

  • Would you give some details about the "innovative research and discovery tools"? Were these developed by NLI experts?

    Ktiv is the only initiative in the world that presents all known Hebrew manuscripts in one place, and which will enable searching and researching this global collection centrally and easily. At this stage of the Ktiv website we are focusing mainly on search and navigation of the enormous collection and clarity and versatility in terms of viewing the manuscripts, including a search tool, which will allow users to easily and efficiently find manuscripts from different (current and historical) collections, based on their shelf marks, cultural context and style.

    The second tool is a viewer, which identifies each manuscript's current owner, and enables the viewer to browse a full manuscript in different ways, and to perform different actions (such as share, download and print) single pages, in accordance with the usage terms defined by each partner collection.

    In the future we will be adding tools for processing and analyzing text and images, such as tagging functions and transcription tools. This will contribute to the scope of textual, historical and graphic research possibilities.

  • What "state-of-the-art" technology is being used to preserve the Ktiv collection long term? How long is long-term?

    Long term means very long term – and ideally without limitation – such that it can be used throughout the ages. Such is our commitment as the National Library of Israel and the Jewish people. In order to ensure this long-term preservation, we use a combination of materials, programs and policies. The Rosetta software system is used for digital preservation processes. Rosetta is a product of Ex-Libris (part of ProQuest). The software system is installed on a seven Dell servers environment, using Oracle as its database. Our current data exceeds one hundreds of teras.