New meaning for the expression ‘people of the book’ as Israel’s National Library undergoes a multi-million dollar renewal development.

Thousands of books, manuscripts, maps, newspapers and hours of audio and video material are now undergoing complex digitization processes as part of a revitalization project at the National Library. The $200 million venture will transform the library into one of the largest online archives in the world and the country’s leading national heritage institution.

The library was founded in 1892. And though it boasts impressive collections, there’s a need to modernize and bring up to date the library’s treasures.

“The National Library is a cultural, intellectual and research-oriented asset of primary importance in the State of Israel because it collects and preserves the national memory, both Jewish and Israeli…The move to the new building signifies a departure from the bounds of academia and opens the physical and virtual gates to anyone seeking knowledge whoever and wherever they may be,” said David Blumberg, Chair of the National Library’s Board of the Directors.

Yad Hanadiv Foundation – led by Lord Jacob Rothschild – has already pledged $1 million to the project.

The library’s new home will be built in the National Complex in Jerusalem, near the Knesset and opposite the Israel Museum. The building is set to be completed in 2016.

About 200,000 visitors come to the library each year to use the collection, and 300,000 use the digital catalogue. Now the library hopes that with the digitization of the most important manuscripts, an estimated 10 million people in Israel and around the world will use its digital depository for research, and 600,000 will flock to the new building.

“Direct contact with the treasures of the past leaves a deep impression on every one of us,” said Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. “We are guarding here the magnificent treasures from the birth of our nation and of all of humanity.”