The National Library of Israel has just launched a website giving the public access to a huge collection of materials, including books, periodicals, maps, photos and musical selections from the library collection. The website, which took two years to develop, is the most comprehensive content-based website in Israel. It can be found at: www.nli.org.il.

"There was a need, a burning organizational need, to create the right infrastructure for all the content the library provides," said Orly Simon, who heads the public services division at the library, situated at the Givat Ram campus of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. "In the past, when you wanted to look for something, you needed to know the specific project [where it could be found] and look there. Now we aim to put all of the material in one place, in one digital library."

The website is divided into a number of content sections. One featuring collections and archives provides access to the personal archives of former leaders as well as public figures such as the writer S.Y. Agnon and the philosopher Martin Buber, as well as special content developed by the library. There is also a catalogue section that gives the public access to databases and libraries around the world.

Hundreds of thousands of items from the library's core areas - Israel, Judaism and Islam - have been scanned and are available on the website. There are also tens of thousands of hours of recorded music that Internet users can access, including rare Hebrew songs and cantorial music.