Wikimedia Israel’s Enduring Partnership with the National Library of Israel

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In late December, Wikimedia Israel hosted a special gathering for its dedicated volunteers at the National Library of Israel. The focal point of the day was an insightful guided tour through the library’s impressive new building in Jerusalem. Beyond the tour, volunteers engaged in group dynamics, fostering connections that extend beyond digital screens.

However, this successful event is just the latest chapter in a longstanding collaboration between Wikimedia Israel and the National Library, spanning over a decade.

The collaboration falls within the GLAM framework, emphasising collaboration between cultural institutions and the Wikimedia movement. The GLAM project began with a pilot in 2012, appointing Daniel Zvi Peramwitz as the “Wikipedian in Residence.” The collaboration has continued, with Gea Zohar (user Geagea) currently holding the position. Wikipedians also enjoy exclusive borrowing rights at the library, providing access to quality information sources for Wikipedia content.

Regular monthly meetings are held at the National Library, featuring lectures on Wikipedia, practical tutorials, and hands-on editing experience. The National Library also organises summer camps for teenagers with Wikimedia Israel’s volunteers serving as instructors. The partnership extends to activities in both Hebrew and Arabic, including Arabic Wikipedia editing training for library staff and activities with Arab schools. 

Moreover, the library has significantly contributed to Wikimedia Commons by uploading over 200,000 media files. The National Library is one of many cultural institutions integrated into the GLAM Wiki Dashboard that showcases the extensive outreach of media files on Wikimedia projects. The National Library also has an impressive presence in the Wikidata catalogue, having uploaded more than 700,000 records.

Notably, this enduring partnership owes much of its success to the dedicated efforts of Orly Simon, Head of Public Services at The National Library of Israel, who is also a Wikipedian herself. Her commitment has been instrumental in fostering a bridge between the Wikimedia community and the library, enriching this collaboration over the years and exemplifying the impact of individuals who bridge the worlds of cultural institutions and open knowledge initiatives.

Michal Wander Schwartz, Wikimedia Israel’s Executive Director (Left) and Orly Simon, Head of Public Services at The National Library of Israel (Right)

The year of 2024 holds even more promise with innovative training sessions on using Wikimedia Commons already on the horizon. Wikimedia Israel and the National Library of Israel, their stories intertwined, continue to forge a path of knowledge and collaboration, a testament to the power of shared passion and a beacon of hope for a more informed, interconnected world.

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