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Israel: National Library Law

(Jan. 2, 2008) On November 26, 2007, the Knesset (Israel's Parliament) passed a law that regulates the status, objectives, and roles of the National Library. The law states that the National Library is located in Jerusalem. Its objectives are the collection, preservation, cultivation, and dedication of general treasures of knowledge, tradition, and culture, as well as those specifically related to the land of Israel, to the State of Israel, and to the Jewish people. In addition to its duties to collect and enhance the library's collections, the National Library is charged with providing the public in Israel and abroad "proper and reasonable" access to its collections, by advanced technological means. The National Library will serve as a central research library in Israel and as the research library of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem in liberal arts, especially in Judaic studies, the cultures of the Middle East, and Islam. It will provide public displays of its collections, maintain public programs, and consult with other libraries within and outside Israel.

The Law establishes the National Library Company (NLC) as a company for public benefit in order to carry out these tasks. NLC shares will be divided among the state (50%), the Hebrew University in Jerusalem (25%), and other state or public bodies agreed upon by both the state and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem (25%). The Law regulates the approval process for acquisition of shares by such bodies, as well as the composition of the National Library Council. It provides special protection to the National Library's assets by prohibiting such assets from being made collateral or subject to disposition upon non-payment or dissolution of the company. (The National Library Law, 5768-2007, and 2005 bill, Knesset Web site (last visited Dec. 17, 2007).)