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National Library of Israel says its Arabic site has seen traffic boom

An early Quran, part of the collection of the National Library of Israel, is displayed at The Hebrew University campus in Jerusalem, January 6, 2022. (AP Photo/ Maya Alleruzzo)
An early Quran, part of the collection of the National Library of Israel, is displayed at The Hebrew University campus in Jerusalem, January 6, 2022. (AP Photo/ Maya Alleruzzo)

Israel’s national library says the number of visitors to its Arabic website more than doubled last year, driven by a growing collection of digitized materials and an aggressive outreach campaign to the Arab world.

Around 650,000 users, predominantly from the Palestinian territories, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Algeria, visited the National Library of Israel’s English and Arabic sites in 2021, says library spokesman Zachary Rothbart.

One of the most heavily trafficked resources on the Arabic website is a newspaper archive with more than 200,000 pages of Arabic publications from Ottoman and British Mandate Palestine, says Raquel Ukeles, head of the library’s collections.

“We have been working on outreach to the Arab world, into the Arabic-speaking public here in Israel for over a decade, and we have slowly built up a rich set of resources on our websites,” she says. They include the digital newspaper archives, manuscripts, posters, electronic books and music, she said. They are open access, allowing scholars and curious web browsers to visit.

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