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66th IFLA Council and General

Jerusalem, Israel, 13-18 August


Code Number: 113-174(WS)-E
Division Number: VII
Professional Group: Library History in association with the Association of Jewish Libraries, Judaica Librarians Group, and Hebraica Libraries Group: Workshop - Session 2
Joint Meeting with:
Meeting Number: 174
Simultaneous Interpretation: No

The status of libraries in Israeli historical archives

Silvia Schenkolewski Kroll
BarIlan University, Ramat Gan


Papers and books have been written and published on archives within libraries, on their mutual relations as separate institutions, and comparing them in search of common and divergent aspects in past and present. To mention just two comparative volumes: Archive-Library Relations (1976), edited by Robert L Clark, and Archives and Library Administration: Divergent Traditions and Common Concerns (1986), edited by Lawrence J McCrank. The annual Archivium devoted its thirtieth number in 1986 to comparison of archives, libraries, museums and information centers. And finally, Paul Alsberg's article on "Libraries and Librarians as Archives Keepers: a Chapter in Archival History", which appeared in the Hebrew journal Yad La'koreh in 1989. The type mentioned at the beginning analyzes the various functions assigned to libraries and archives, examines their common aspects and the possibilities of cooperation between them, especially in the wake of such technological developments as standard cataloguing programs like the MARC format, which are used also for registering archival material. Alsberg's article describes and analyzes a growing practice of maintaining archives in libraries for historical reasons, beginning with their being together by virtue of being manuscripts, and on to the deposit of private archives, mainly in departments of manuscripts and archives in libraries, since according to theories widely held in the profession, their place is not in official archives. Archival material deposited in libraries has been the subject of professional literature, descriptive and analytical.

To the best of my knowledge, an aspect that has yet to receive special attention, and which is the subject of this discussion, is the place of libraries within archives. It may be assumed that the phenomenon of libraries in archives, since the Middle Ages, when they constituted one institution, developed, beginning in the 19th century, after the opening of archives to scholars. The purpose of these libraries is, on the one hand, to provide assistance and support for scholars of archival material and, on the other hand, to collect studies written and published on the basis of documents deposited in the archive. This collection, beyond providing proof of use of the archival material, is a means of determining what topics have already been researched. It becomes in itself background and/or comparative material for future research. In principle, one can define such a library as an auxiliary library to an archive. The kinds of publications characteristic of it are: general reference books; books that serve as background material for the various record groups of the archive (such as books on the geography of Eretz Israel in the Central Zionist Archives); studies written on topics related to the sections of the archive itself, but not based on material in the archive itself (such as studies on opponents of Zionism, in the same archive); studies based wholly or partly on the archival material, as mentioned above. To everything mentioned so far, one should add borderline material, or, as it is called by librarians, "gray matter", i.e. publications by the body from which the archive originated, which constitute part of the archive itself and/or publications by bodies or organizations related somehow to the body from which the archive originated. Regarding publications that constitute an organic part of the archive, they can be treated either purely as archival material or as library material. As for the second type, it constitutes part of the documentation that enriches one's knowledge of the archival matter; from a professional standpoint, its place is more in an auxiliary library than in the archive proper. Of course, everything depends on the policy of the individual archive.

So far, we have discussed an auxiliary library that grows ad hoc, as required by the specific archive. There are two further options: a library that exists on its own and serves the archive, or a library founded in parallel and that serves the archive; the library of an individual, of which the collection was built during his lifetime and was given together with the personal or family archive. Examples of the former are the libraries of the Labor Archive and of the archive of the Institute for Research in Religious Zionism. Examples of the latter are the library of Albert Einstein, tied to his personal archive in the Jewish National and University Library (JNUL). Abroad, the outstanding examples are libraries of presidents of the United States, with all the problems incumbent on ownership of the holdings and supervision by the National Archives.

In order to survey the situation in Israel, a questionaire was compiled that collected basic data on the archive itself: personnel, location, date of establishment, amount of archival material, main divisions, means of registration and storage, and computerization; and more specific details on the library proper: if there is a special librarian to curate the collection, date of establishment, number of titles (books, periodicals), areas of specialization in the library and the degree of correlation to the contents of the archive, methods of cataloguing, classification and indexing, acquisition policy, treatment of publications based on the archival material, follow-up. At the end, it was asked if the library serves only those who come to use the archive and if the archive is part of a library unit.

In the context of this lecture, I shall analyze and present only the main facts on the relationship between library and archive: location of the library vis a vis the archive; scope of collections as against amount of archival material; treatment of written works based on archival material; presence of a librarian; use of computer programs.

Questionaires were sent to 75 archives of different kinds. Not included were archives of kibbutzim or moshavim, on the assumption that, as small settlements, the chances of there being an auxiliary library for the archive was very low. Included, however, were municipal and regional-council archives. Replies were received from 30 archives.

The archives can be divided into four main categories (not necessarily in accordance with the definitions in the Law of Archives of 1955):

  1. Academic institutions
  2. Archives of movements and parties
  3. Public archives
  4. Archives of local authorities

Archives of Academic Institutions

Out of 20 archives of universities or archives that operate in the university framework, seven replied. Among them were four archives that belong to the Hebrew University and do not meet the criterion of an archive that includes an auxiliary library. Two of them hold unconventional material (the Archive of Aerial Photography in the Department of Geography, and the Oral History Unit in the Institute for Contemporary Jewry). None of them has an auxiliary library or keeps track of publications based on its holdings. One may assume that the libraries on Mount Scopus supply the needs of these readers, or that, because of the nature of the special material, in any case researchers also need other services, so there is no need to develop auxiliary libraries. The Department of Manuscripts and Archives at JNUL meets, as mentioned above, the model of an archive that grew in the context of a large library that collects unofficial archives, so it did not develop an auxiliary library; rather, researchers who require its services are supported by the collections of JNUL. There also exists, in the basic plan, a requirement to submit copies of published work written on the basis of archival matter. In accordance with existing policy, they are added to the general collection of JNUL.

The fourth library, also under the roof of JNUL, belongs to another category that I have mentioned, libraries that grew in parallel to a personal archive: the Albert Einstein Library. There is a certain correlation between the archival material and the subjects of the titles (3447 books and 301 periodicals). Books by and about Einstein; books in Einstein's areas of interest (history, philosophy, sociology, politics, Jewish studies, German literary classics, world literary classics in German translation). This library, like the archive proper that receives documents pertaining to the original owner of the archive, receives gifts from authors and publishers who issue books by or about Einstein. These publications are kept track of, including works based on the personal archive. In the past two years, some fifty works of this type have been received. Differing from the Department of Manuscripts and Archives, the idea regarding the Einstein Archive is to maintain concentration and completeness of the material in the context of the archive proper.

The Institute and Center for the Legacy of Ben Gurion belong to Ben Gurion University of the Negev. Together, the archive and the library included in it form a second example of relations between personal archive and library. The core personal archive of Israel's first prime minister has been complemented by addition of documentation by and about Ben Gurion from various archives in Israel and abroad, and has reached some 400 meters shelf space. The library, which includes everything that Ben Gurion wrote or that has been written about him, with the addition of material in areas related to Ben Gurion (about 30,000 books and 50 periodicals), also includes a documentary collection of 19,000 photocopy files, with articles by and about Ben Gurion. Although library and archive are mutually complementary, in administration and staffing they are separate entities.

If we compare the case of the library of the Einstein Archive to the parallel library of the Institute for the Legacy of Ben Gurion, we see that differences in scope of material arise not only from differences in scope of activity of the two men, but rather from the policy of expanding the circle of topics around the personalities, and in the case of Sde Boker (the Ben Gurion Institute), the addition of a documentary section to the library proper. Without a doubt, despite the autonomy of the library of the Einstein Archive within JNUL, its location within JNUL determines the scope of the collection; as distinct from the library of the Institute and Center for the Legacy of Ben Gurion, which is the reading collection at Sde Boker.

The last two libraries in the academic sphere are: the library of the Aviezer Yellin Archive for Jewish Education in Israel and the Diaspora at Tel Aviv University, and the library of the archive of the Zerah Warhaftig Institute for Research in Religious Zionism at Bar Ilan University. They are auxiliary libraries to archives, according to the model described above. In both cases, the collections include books, periodicals and "gray matter" of and about Jewish education or religious Zionism. In the case of Tel Aviv University, there are 12,350 books and about 800 periodicals (some of them single issues), while in the case of Bar Ilan University there are about 1200 books and about 70 periodicals. Both places are careful to receive copies of work based on the archival materials under their jurisdiction. The difference between them is that in the case of the educational archive, the independence of the library from any other library is absolute. The cataloguing system, registration and finding aids are in the same program, whereas the auxiliary library of the Archive for Religious Zionism is in the same format as all other libraries at Bar Ilan University, so that the publications appears also in the general database. Thus, there is no connection between the program of the archive and the program of the auxiliary library.

If we summarize the status of libraries adjacent to archives in the academic sector, we see that there are archives that do not keep library-type collections because of proximity or incorporation into large libraries (the Oral History Unit, the Aerial Photography Archive, the Department of Manuscripts and Archives); two received and developed libraries that center on a personal archive (the Einstein and Ben Gurion Archives), and only the last two cases (the Archive for Jewish Education and the Archive for Religious Zionism) meet the description of a library that grew linked to an archive.

Archives of Movements and Parties

This category includes six archives out of seven to which the questionaire was sent. these are the auxiliary libraries of the archives of kibbutz movements (United Kibbutz Movement: Ef'al and Hulda; Hakibbutz Ha'artzi; Hakibbutz Hadati; and Massu'a: Ha'oved Hazioni), and the archive of the Lavon Institute of the Labor Movement. The Central Zionist Archives were deliberately omitted from this group, because it is the archive of the entire Zionist movement including all its institutions.

As per its definition, the Lavon Institute includes an archive and a library; chronologically, the library preceded the archive, but from the outset the library has served as depository for all publications of the Histadrut labor organization and the Zionist Labor Movement. With establishment of the archive, the archival function of collecting publications of institutions which constitute record groups in the archive remained with the library, which naturally also included books, periodicals and other publications on the Jewish and general labor movement in Eretz Israel and abroad, background literature in areas of history, economics, social affairs, Zionism and so on. The library has also been careful to receive studies based on the archival material; in the past two years, about one hundred such publications have been received. The library includes some 49,000 book titles and some 11,000 periodical titles. There is also a computer system which serves both library and archive. As we have seen in the case of the Ben Gurion Institute, here also, and despite separate administration, archive and library are mutually complementary.

In the libraries and archives of the kibbutz movements, there are significant differences in scope and organization. The library of Yad Tabenkin at Ef'al (part of the United Kibbutz Movement at TAKAM) is similar to the library of the Lavon Institute: an independent body, coordinated however with the archive for issuing publications and in areas covered by the record groups, and in other aspects. The outstanding example is its collection on communes around the world. Altogether, there are about 60,000 book titles and 1230 periodicals. the library of the archive of Hashomer Haza'ir-Hakibbutz Ha'artzi has a set-up similar to that of Yad Tabenkin. Undoubtedly, these libraries, in addition to being linked to archives, being also a part of educational institutions and research institutes, has given them a special boost. Which is not the case for the remaining three. The library of the archive of the Kibbutz Federation at (TAKAM) at Hulda is an auxiliary library that serves only visitors to the archive; it is an integral part thereof and according to its scope there is no need for a librarian to manage it. A similar case is the Massu'a archive, which has reference and auxiliary books (they did not indicate the library of Massu'a). As for the archive of Hakibbutz Hadati, the auxiliary library comes close to the model we have seen in the archives of Jewish education and religion Zionism: a library linked to an archive and integral to it; altogether, about 1100 titles. If we take into consideration the specificity of the topic - the religious kibbutz - as compared to Jewish education or religious Zionism, we see that this is a relatively large library.

It seems that in the case of archives of movements and parties, status and scope depend gratly on the context in which they grew. If we except the library of the Lavon Institute, which represents an entire movement, in the other cases the size of the library and its dependence on an archive are related to a high degree to the periphery. Where, in addition to an archive, there is an educational or research program, the library is larger and, from an administrative aspect, more independent than the archive.

Public Archives

Under this rubric are grouped, by process of elimination, archives that do not belong to the other three categories and that serve the general public. Out of 14 questionaires sent out, nine were returned (two of them negative). This group can be divided into two main categories, as per the size of the archive and of the library within it.

The first group includes three large archives, one state and two of public institutions: the Archive of the IDF and the Security System, the Central Zionist Archives, and the Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People. Common to all three is that the library is an integral part of the archive and grew according to the model of an auxiliary library. In these instances, these grew into sizeable libraries in comparison to the standard for a library attached to an archive. In addition to this, there may be a certain correlation between respective size of archive and library. The IDF Archive takes up about 70 km shelf space (records center and historical archives), and has a library of about 17,000 book titles and 401 periodicals. The Central Zionist Archives cover about 7 km of archival material, to which may be added 2 km of library material: 120,000 book titles and about 12,000 periodicals, including a newspaper collection. The Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People has 5.2 km shelf space and a collection of 10,416 book titles and 610 periodicals. In all three cases, the libraries also include the publications of the archive's sources. The biggest library, both in absolute numbers and in relation to the amount of archival material, is the Central Zionist Archives. This can be explained by the amount of material that the Zionist movement published and the large number of studies written about it. The library of the IDF Archive has the smallest size in relation to the size of the archive, which is understandable, since the body is in existence now only 52 years, is high specific, and includes an extremely large amount of archival material. As for the Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People, it may well be that there is no way to encompass all the publications relative to the different areas, or that these bodies did not publish much. Concerning obligatory copies of studies based on archival material, only in the Central Archive for the History of the Jewish People is there follow-up and regular submission of such works. The three institutions have developed and are developing special computer programs that integrate the work of archive and library. Needless to say, in auxiliary libraries on the scale mentioned above, a special librarian is employed.

Another kind of institution is Beit Hatfutsot, the Museum of the Jewish Diaspora, which maintains an archive of visual materials. The library of Beit Hatfutsot includes 6000 titles in all, 1000 of them in the archive. The intention of all these that deal with subjects relevant to pictorial documentation of Jewish life in the Diaspora. That means that from an administrative point of view, there is a separation between archive and library; the library, physically separate but united in administration and staff, services the archive and other units at Beit Hatfutsot.

Two additional archives in this category are archives of institutions that deal with sport: the Zvi Nishri Archive for Sport and Physical Education at the Wingate Institute, and the Yosef Yekutieli - Maccabi Archive. In both cases, the library is part of the archive (under 350 meters shelf space), but in the case of the Wingate Institute, the library also covers needs common to Institute staff. In both cases, there are collections of about 1400 book titles, Wingate also having 396 periodical titles which partly answer the above demand. The specificity of the subject is reflected by the respective size of both archive and library, and neither has a professional librarian.

The Weitzmann Archives, the personal archive of Israel's first president, includes a library whose core, in this particular case (and differing from those of Einstein and Ben Gurion) was not the man's own library, but rather a library acquired in the sixties for the project of editing Weitzmann's writings. Today, books are acquired that are tied to the area of specialization of the archive.

If we except the Weitzmann Archives and the library of Beit Hatfutsot on account of their special nature, we have here libraries that meet all parameters of auxiliary libraries of archives. Also, in the libraries of archives defined as public archives, the size of the library is a function of the size of the archive, and likewise the professional level of their management.

Archives of Local Authorities

The majority of questionaires were sent to local authorities, and from them we received relatively fewer replies: seven out of 34. We got the impression that some of the local authorities have no auxiliary libraries at all for their archives, not is it possible to classify libraries in relation to archives as per the criteria determined above, and for this reason they refrained from replying.

Of seven replies, three reported that the archive had no library, but two archives indicated that there was an entirely separate library that could serve as such for users of the archive. In the instance of the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council, the regional academic library of Sapir College; in the case of the Ra'anana Municipal Archive, the municipal library. These two cases exemplify a situation described above. Visitors to the archive and its own staff have to seek library material in an entirely different setting.

The last four replies represent, two each, two types: the library of the archives of a large city (Jerusalem and Haifa) and of a regional council (the Jezre'el Valley Regional Council and the Golan Archive).

With the large cities, there are some 3000 book and local periodical titles in each, as against 3 km of archival material in Jerusalem and 1.2 km in Haifa. The library is an integral part of the archive; it receives, if not regularly, works based on their archival holdings. In the case of Jerusalem, the policy is quite clearly to collect every book on Jerusalem or in which Jerusalem is mentioned; a librarian tends the collection.

The situation is similar in the regional council. These are auxiliary libraries that deal with the material or that serve as background for the archival material. In both cases there are about 250 titles. Regarding the archive itself, there is a difference between that of the Jezre'el Valley Council, with 230 shelf meters, and the Golan Archive, which includes the archives of the regional council, the Katzrin local council, and material on 32 Golan settlements (each one separately), altogether 2 km of material. In this context there is no possibility of checking the breakdown of the collections, if there are many scholarly works in one area as compared to another, or the acquisition policy of each one of the institutions.

Despite the small number of replies, one can conclude that development of auxiliary libraries in the sector of local authorities is lacking. It may be that, due to the very situation of the local historical archive and its separation or non-separation from the records center. To the degree that the historical archive is autonomous, and gives services to researchers, the auxiliary library grows. Factors of space and budget that were indicated in two cases (Ra'anana and the Golan) constitute a decisive factor in establishment or development of an auxiliary library.


If we summarize the findings, although only 40% of the questionaires were returned (30/75), since about half of those sent (34%) went to local authorities, and we have already spoken of them, in the main archives in Israel are connected to some sort of library system. The different kinds of library associated with archives cross the typology that we ascribed to the various archives. Archives of unconventional material (audiovisual, pictorial) depend on the services of an external library; personal archives that are independent maintain libraries that are related directly (Weitzmann and Einstein) or indirectly (Ben Gurion) to the personal archive from which they derive their claim to existence. Only in JNUL and in keeping with expectations in such an institution, was an archive department developed within the library. In cases like the Lavon Institute, Ef'al, Givat Haviva, libraries grew in parallel to serve the archive, but are not an organic part of it. This kind is typical of large institutions.

The classic type of auxiliary library to an archive exists in the four categories with which we have dealt: academic libraries (Tel Aviv, Bar Ilan), small archives of movements not related to big campuses (Hulda, Massu'a, Hakibbutz Hadati); large municipalities (Haifa, Jerusalem); about smaller settlements we remain in the realm of supposition; likewise, the actual situation of an auxiliary library in large archives (Central Zionist Archives, IDF Archives, Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People) and also in small archives (Wingate and Maccabi). This seems to be the natural and accepted way to satisfy the need for a library in an archive. When a library exists in the same institution and is able to fulfil the role of archive library, there is no need for unnecessary duplication.

Analysis of the other data collected and its completion as required will complete this first attempt to examine the place of libraries in the archive network in Israel, and perhaps the world.


Analysis and conclusions of a survey based on data of archives and the libraries linked to them. Archives in four sectors were studied: academic institutions, ideological movements, public archives, and local authorities. In each one of the sectors, data were checked that related to the archive and its relation to the data of the library within the archive or the library that paralleled it, if any. In some cases, this was an auxiliary library that grew within the archive itself. In other cases, a library independent of the archive, that served it as an auxiliary library. The archives of the local authorities, if autonomous, also fit the model of amount of archival material in comparison to size and organization of the library collection. When considering personal archives, the library grew out of the activity of the originator of the archive. Special archives (audio-visual) do not have libraries. In large archives, such as the Central Zionist Archives and the Lavon Institute, there is a correlation between the amount of archival material and the size of the library. Another factor that influences development of the library collection is location in educational or research institutions (Efal and Givat Haviva). A case common worldwide but rare in Israel is the Department of Manuscripts and Archives at the National Library in Jerusalem, where the archives are part of the library's holdings. The model of auxiliary libraries crosses the four types mentioned above, the parallel library is typical of educational and research institutions.


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