The Union of Jewish Communities in Italy (UCEI), the local affiliate of the World Jewish Congress, has undertaken an initiative to create the first unified listing of all Hebrew books in Italy. I-Tal-Ya Books is a collaborative effort between the Union of Jewish Communities in Italy, the National Library of Israel, and the Rome National Central Library, with the support of the Rothschild Foundation Hanadiv Europe.
Italy has a rich Jewish history, and was historically a center for printing and producing Hebrew manuscripts. While efforts have been made to catalogue texts in the past, this is the first to call for all the Hebrew books in Italy to be catalogued.
"The realization of the unique catalogue of books in Hebrew in Italian libraries is a dream come true," Dr. Gloria Arbib, former UCEI Secretary General and a member of its steering committee.
"We have created a professional and responsible working group – and with it we have set up a work process that will make the unique catalogue available, with some parts of the digitized volumes and search functions both in Hebrew and Latin characters with the normalization of names, [which] was not a simple matter," she said. "We hope to make the first results visible with the start of the new year."
The project is expected to take around three years to complete, and to catalogue approximately 35,000 Hebrew books from 14 Jewish communities and 25 state-run institutions. New technology will be used to help preserve the texts.