National Library of Israel hits COVID-19 back with multi-lingual content

Dozens of audio books were offered via iCast, as well as educational materials in Hebrew, English, Arabic and French during the schools shutdown.

Reading room of the National Library of Israel. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Reading room of the National Library of Israel.
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
With schools across the country closing down due to COVID-19, and researchers not being able to work as they used to, the National Library of Israel has responded with a series of innovative steps, a press release on behalf of the NLI reported.
The first was to create a series of instructional online videos teaching users how to access the roughly one million digital items it has, so scholars may continue with their work at home via the library staff, who can be communicated with online.
The second was to invest in a “pocket library,” a series of audio books meant to help children and young adults have access to the imaginative works of fiction created by the country’s finest writers. 
For the periods between lockdowns, when people could visit the library to read and study, an online space reservation system was created to ensure each person could work in her or his own capsule, and funds were invested to disinfect surfaces and create safe work spaces. 
With an eye out to help families who now spend a great deal of time at home, educational content was created and shared online in Hebrew, English, French and Arabic. 
Virtual escape rooms with riddles and games (prizes included) were offered as part of an annual program for Arab speaking youth.
Formally, only 100 young people from the capital could be hosted, but seeing as digital programs are much more flexible, 2020 marked the first time the program was offered in a variety of locations and able to reach hundreds of kids. 
A "Reading Room" was created where many Zoom lectures and cultural events took place; thousands of people have attended them since April.
Since the World Wide Web is global, these events attracted people from outside Israel as well. Six poets took part in the annual Bustan program, which seeks to utilize the Arab and Hebrew sources within the collections of the NLI with a focus on dialog.  
In response to these troubled times, the library founded the Global Jewish COVID-19 Archive, which documents how the virus is impacting Jewish cultures around the world. The range is vast, from posters offering security loans to emails that explain how to pray as a community while following health restrictions. 
This will ensure that future generations will have a clear picture of how this generation faced the pandemic. 
The NLI is currently working on a new building to host the collections and activities when it opens in about a year.