JERUSALEM (JTA) — A cornerstone has been laid at the site of the new National Library of Israel complex in Jerusalem.
The building, a new national landmark, will be ready to open to the public in 2020.
The cornerstone and groundbreaking took place last week at the site of the new building, adjacent to the Knesset and the Israel Museum in Jerusalem’s National District.
The building will include six floors above ground and four underground floors.
The National Library of Israel, which was founded in 1892, is working on renewing and updating itself as part of a renewal project launched in 2011. The new building will include state-of-the-art services to researchers, readers and visitors. The library also will make much of its collection available to online users.
In recent years the national library has greatly expanded its collections and made it available online. In addition, the national library has partnered with hundreds of institutions in Israel and around the world, providing access to intellectual and cultural assets that are not part of its physical collection.
The renewal project is funded by the Israeli government, the Rothschild family under the auspices of Yad Hanadiv, and the David and Ruth Gottesman family of New York.
“For 2,000 years the writings of the Jewish people were scattered across the world,” Jacob Rothschild, chairman of Yad Hanadiv, said in a statement. “Now these writings from the past as well as books yet to be written and digital materials, together with a wide range of collections, are to have a permanent home and one where it should be — in the heart of Jerusalem.”
At the groundbreaking ceremony on April 5, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the national library “a center of culture, intellectual freedom, enlightenment and progress, which is not a small matter in the Middle East.”
Netanyahu said he would donate the archives of his father, the eminent professor Benzion Netanyahu, whose area of expertise is the Golden Age of Spain. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said he would donate the writings of his father, Yosef Rivlin, a historian.