At the Source: Italy

In October 2018, through Gesher L'Europa, a Bridge to Europe from the National Library of Israel, a group of photographers, community representatives, and local cataloguers came together in Rome to start work on a new initiative led by the NLI, The Union of Jewish Communities in Italy (UCEI) and the National Central Library of Rome. The project aims to catalogue every Hebrew book in Italy with the intent of preserving and making the Hebrew book collections widely accessible in a Union Catalogue that will be hosted by the National Central Library of Rome.


This unique and significant initiative is a part of the training programme entitled “At the Source,” developed by the National Library for development and practical training for library professionals and archivists to help preserve and conserve Jewish Heritage in Europe. “At the Source Italy” aims to raise awareness and appreciation for the important Hebrew book collections in Italy and provide local librarians with the necessary skills to care for and catalogue their collections.


In preparation for the project, new software was developed to host the Union Catalogue, training guidebooks were created and printed and instructional videos were produced to help in the training process. With the plans in place and the preparations made, NLI professionals traveled from Israel to Rome for a week to help deliver the training and to provide the group with the necessary knowledge and practical know-how they need for digitization and photographing books.



“Everyone worked really hard throughout the training and it was amazing how we overcame language barriers to work as a team and put in place a complex technical process,” said Caron Sethill, Programme Manager of Gesher L’Europa.


Additionally, on October 28, 2018, “At the Source Italy” was prominently featured in an episode of the Italian television programme, “Sorgente Di Vita,” which took viewers behind the scenes of the project and featured the work being done in the hopes of building and maintaining the union catalogue.


The project began with a six-month pilot with a focus on collections from Rome, Florence, Genoa, Milan and Turin with the hopes of expanding to include other collections in Jewish community and state institutions in Italy.