About the Map Collection

About the Map Collection

Eran Laor

Eran Laor

The National Library of Israel's map collection is a physical, as well as virtual, collection of maps. Most of the collection is made up of antique maps of the Holy Land. It is among the largest collections of its kind in the world, and is accessible to the general public. The heart of the physical collection are the maps donated to the Library by Eran Laor in 1975 as well as the maps donated by Howard Golden in 2022. All the maps in the collection, antique and modern, have been scanned and are available for viewing through the Library's online catalog.

In addition, as part of the "Digital Library of Holy Land Maps" project, the digital collection was expanded and now includes maps of the Holy Land which are held physically in libraries and collections around the world, while being made accessible online to users across Israel and the globe.

Most of the physical items in the collection were donated by Eran Laor in 1975. Laor was born in Slovakia, and was active in the Allied Intelligence Bureau, assisting in the Aliyah (immigration) of Jews to Israel. After the establishment of the state, he served as a representative of the Jewish national institutions in Europe. Laor authored books of poetry and philosophy, and also wrote an autobiography. He described the growth of his collection as “recalling the depiction of the world in the Middle Ages, with Jerusalem as the center of the world. Around Jerusalem, in expanding concentric circles, we have maps of the Holy Land, of the Middle East...” Together with Shoshana Klein, Laor compiled a catalogue of the map collection entitled Maps of the Holy Land:‎ Cartobibliography of Printed Maps, 1475-1900, published in New York in 1986.

Another major contribution relating to maps of the Land of Israel was the Howard Golden Collection, donated to the Library in 2022.

The Scope of the Collection

The core of the collection is approximately 1,600 antique maps of Jerusalem and the Holy Land, as well as thousands of antique maps of other parts of the world. It also includes survey maps of the Land of Israel and the region from the mid-19th century, modern maps of Israel, of its cities, and of neighboring countries from before the declaration of the state and to this day. The maps in the collection are in various European languages as well as Hebrew, Yiddish and Arabic. All of the collection's maps can be found in the Library catalog and are available to view online.

The items in the collection serve as primary sources for students and researchers in the fields of ancient and modern cartography as well as historical geography, general history, art history, the history of the people of Israel and the Land of Israel and the Diaspora, architecture, city planning and Jerusalem studies. Those who make use of the collection include researchers, curators, students and guests from Israel and around the world.

Collection and Acquisition

The National Library of Israel continues to acquire maps for the collection from various sources.

In addition, the National Library also serves as a depository library according to law. That being the case, contemporary maps that are published in Israel are sent to the Library in accordance with the provisions of the law and are made part of the collection.

Online Availability of Digitally Scanned Maps

All maps in the collection are available for viewing on the Library website. Maps that are not protected by copyright can also be viewed online from outside the Library building.


Ayelet Rubin, librarian of the cartographic collection.

Phone: 074-733-6430

[email protected]