JTA — The National Library of Israel said on Wednesday it will suspend its public services and put its 300 employees on unpaid leave.
The closure, which is set to begin on August 17, is due to a cut by the government in the library’s budget along with a “drastic drop” in income and donations, the library said.
Under the suspension, the library will stop the lending of books and close reading rooms. Teacher training also has been canceled.
Online cultural events that have been held throughout the coronavirus crisis will be canceled as well.
While Israel has no budget for 2020, every ministry is supposed to get 90 percent of the money budgeted in 2019, but apparently the library did not get its share.
The library’s board chair, David Blumberg, and director, Oren Weinberg, called on Israel’s education and finance ministers to help the library and transfer its budget money, the library said in a statement.
Can we get a hug ☹️?
We are sad to say that beginning on August 17th, our public services will be put on hold.
— National Library of Israel (@NLIsrael) August 5, 2020
“We call on you to help the National Library, as has been done for other bodies and institutions in this economy, so that the library can soon return to its important and vital activity as the national library of the State of Israel and the Jewish people,” they said in the letter, according to the library.
The National Library of Israel, which was founded in 1892, has greatly expanded its collections in recent years and made them available online. In addition, the 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.