library lobby picture

Info & Description

Bloomfield Library for the Humanities and Social Sciences


The Bloomfield Library for Humanities and Social Sciences was established in 1981 with the merging of 24 departmental libraries from the Edmond J. Safra campus (Givat Ram) in one new building on Mt. Scopus. From the start the library was using an integrated library system (Aleph, now ExLibris company). The library was intended to serve teachers, researchers and students of the Faculties of Humanities, Social Sciences, Business Administration and Occupation Therapy, however, in fact, the entire Hebrew University community is its patron. From 2003 the library is under the supervision of the Hebrew University Library Authority, established with the purpose of providing an academic, professional and administrative framework for the institution libraries.

Building Facility, Seating Capacity, Computer facilities

The library’s five story building is located in the center of the Mt. Scopus campus, lodged between the buildings of the Faculties of Humanities and Social Sciences. The lower level - 1st floor - houses storage facilities and the Photocopy Service (in addition to photocopy machines located on each floor). Other four floors offer a variety of about 1,700 seats for patrons. Workplaces with and without computers are integrated into study areas.

The 3rd (entrance) floor's Berel and Agnes Ginges Library Information Centre holds modern study spaces with congenial atmosphere for individuals and groups, small rooms (with LCD screens) that encourage collaborative learning, a computer equipped seminar room, a library classroom (with software that broadcasts teacher’s screen to twenty-two students’ computers), and a lounge for patrons  relaxation. The Current Periodicals Reading Room, separated from the team work area, presents a comfortable place for undisturbed study.

Library book collections (open stacks) are accommodated in the reading rooms at the floors 2nd, 4th and 5th divided up by the various fields of study according to the Library of Congress classification: 2nd floor - Social Sciences and Occupational Therapy, 4th fl. and 5th fl. Humanities.

Areas for quite study remain throughout the library reading rooms. Each reading room is approximately 3,000 square meters and includes a seminar room offered to teachers or group study. The floors 2nd, 4th  and 5th  are also furnished with individual carrels for students who seek a private corner.

A modern Media department (the music, audio and video collection) equipped with twenty-four multimedia and viewing stations and four “smart” classrooms is housed at the 2nd fl.

The map collection (sheet and wall maps, atlases, etc.) is placed in the Social Sciences building.

Subject-specialists librarians offices are located at the corresponding floors. The Acquisition and Cataloging department is situated at the 4th floor. The Reference, Circulation and the Administrative offices are placed at the 3rd floor, close to the library entrance.

The study areas of the four floors are completely equipped with wireless internet connections for personal laptops and other electronic devices (a large number of electric points for recharging being provided).

Up to 200 full up to date computer workplaces are available for patrons around the library, with a major cluster at the 3rd fl. Computers that require the log-in with the university account allow search in the library catalog (OPAC, Aleph500), databases and internet, reading of e-books and e- journals, using bibliographic software tools, Microsoft Office programs, email, watching DVDs, etc., and supplies auxiliary programs provided by the University Computer Authority. For patrons convenience about 15 computers in the library building do not require any in-log, being restricted to the library catalogue search. All the library computers and private wireless laptops allow printing from 10 printers for patrons located in the library. Printouts are paid by a credit card or by a special rechargeable card (a recharging station is near the entrance). Free scanning is allowed at nine computers with portable scanners attached. All computers can be used with any language supported by operating system and a virtual keyboard. About 30 computers are supplied with three lingual (Hebrew-English-Arabic or Hebrew-English-Russian) keyboards. A computerized online map that shows what stations are available (in difference to those that are occupied) at this moment on each floor is displayed at the entrance.

A large LCD monitor at the entrance acquaints patrons with the Library news.

The Collection

The library collection consists of about 600,000 titles (1,010,741 volumes on shelves) including:

•       527,457 print books (see number of titles according to subjects in appendix)

•       4735 print periodicals (including live and ceased subscriptions)

•       ~60,000 access to electronic journal titles (the number includes individual subscriptions, packages, aggregators, databases and free e- journals; all of them available via SFX ExLibris system)

•       7,143 DVDs and videocassettes

•       20,177 sound recordings and music compact discs

•       220 general and subject specific electronic databases

•       2,580 electronic books (the number includes electronic packages, individual titles from electronic collections, free titles chosen by subject specialists according to the library profile).

•       4,205 M.A. theses submitted at the relevant departments of the Hebrew University 

•       2,394 Ph.D. theses submitted at the relevant departments of the Hebrew University 

•       ~70,000 maps

•       two e-book readers (E-vrit) with 36 titles on each

It should be taken into account that the National Library of Israel remains the Humanities research library of the Hebrew University. The figures above speak only about the collection of the Bloomfield Library for Humanities and Social Sciences.

Budget, Subscriptions and Collection Development

At the beginning of each academic year the Library Authority allocates an acquisitions budget to each individual faculty. Part of the budget is for journal and database subscriptions. Lately the Library Authority makes an effort to acquire not only recent electronic journals but also their archives. The remaining budget is for monographs and non-book materials (sound and video recordings, maps, etc.).

Subscriptions are acquired in cooperation with other libraries in the Hebrew University, as well as through Malmad consortium. Subscriptions to new databases are approved only after the evaluation, given by librarians and faculty members during a requested trial period.

Collection development is a joint effort of librarians and faculty members. The communication between the library and the faculty is maintained by subject-specialist librarians. There is a subject specialist for each area of study covered by the library. Applications for book order given to the acquisition department by subject specialists are classified into three categories according to the importance for curriculum and research and are processed correspondingly. A librarian responsible for collection development coordinates subject specialists’ orders for acquisition and takes care of subject areas uncovered by annual curriculum. Selections are made from required reading lists, teachers’ recommendations, publishers’ catalogs, professional publications and on-line resources.

In average from 10,000 to 15,000 titles are added annually to the Library catalog. This number includes new acquisitions, gifts and donations. Together along with the process of additions the library routine includes weeding, essential to maintaining a quality collection.

Books in more than a hundred languages can be found in the library, the main collections being in Hebrew, English, Arabic, French, German,Spanish, Italian and Russian. Collection of books in East Asian languages is rapidly developing.

The library has started to perform digitizing of materials, whose change of format is allowed according to the copyright law, now it applies to the Hebrew University dissertations and maps created at the Department of Geography.

Required Reading for Courses

The Reserved Reading Collection is updated every semester. It includes textbooks and a database of scanned articles, digitized music and streaming video based on the required reading lists of the teachers. If a title is on the required reading list the Library has to provide an item for every 30 students (the correlation can be changed in case of need). This year there are 5,400 books and 4,740 scanned articles on reserve. Access to the on-line database of scanned materials is strictly limited according to the copyright law and is open to students only after logging in with their personal identification code.

Circulation Services

During all recent years we have annually more than 15,000 registered borrowers. The majority of the monographs can be circulated and each patron may borrow up to 50 books simultaneously. There are approximately 500,000 circulation transactions per year. The self-check service (the machine is located near the entrance) exists in the library for more than ten years. Daily renewals are performed automatically by the Aleph500 system after a check that there are no requests for an item or problems with a reader. The patrons themselves enter requests for loaned items into the system. Materials that are not available in our collection may be obtained by inter- library loan, from Israeli libraries, as well as from abroad, for a fee. This service handles annually about 4,500 requests for articles and books. Advanced booking of audio-visual material and relevant equipment can be performed by patrons via the catalog.

Library Staff

The library staff is comprised of 30 1/2 workers (22 3/4 tenured positions):

 27 3/4 librarian positions, one computer specialist, one technical assistant, and one administrative assistant. The library also employs student assistants, approximately 54,000 hours annually. All librarians have academic degrees in library science and in the fields of humanities and social sciences and several have advanced degrees. Our librarians are fluent in many languages which is necessary to build the collection and to serve the researchers. During all opening hours there is always a librarian to give reference services. Our librarians are active in both inter- and intra-university forums, publish in professional journals, lecture at conferences, and have served as chairpersons of national committees. The library is a member of national consortium (MALMAD) and international organizations.

Library Homepage

The library homepage ( is arranged to help the student or researcher find the material in his subject area. There are general pages on “How to find…” and pages devoted to a subject (e.g. linguistics, music). Each page has explanations about the materials and links to on-line

resources. A detailed database page offers descriptions of each of our databases. All pages are in both English and Hebrew. Any patron who is in need of help can reach a librarian directly from the homepage and will receive a reply by email.

Access to Electronic Resources

Students, teachers and researchers can access online electronic resources (e- books, e-journals, streaming music and video, and databases) from any computer that is connected to the university network on campus or from home. They can access electronic resources from home or dorms by entering a personal identification code. This means that our electronic collection is accessible 24 hours a day 7 days a week to the entire Hebrew University community.

Library Instruction, Reference Services and Cultural Activities

The main reference desk providing professional face-to-face assistance during all library opening hours is located at the entrance floor. Other floors reading rooms render general guidance during the busiest hours. Individual help can be also obtained from a relevant subject specialist librarian by e- mail, by phone or by making an appointment.

Library orientation sessions are offered to new students at the beginning of each semester by our reference staff. These include tours of the library facilities and explanations on the use of the library resources. There are specialized instruction classes coordinated by subject specialist librarians

and teachers keyed to particular course subjects. In-depth training is given to acquaint students with the databases and reference tools in their field of study. During academic year series of instructional presentations for teachers and faculty members are organized together with the Library Authority staff. The Reference department team has produced a number of training videos

on library resources – they are accessible from any computer, being linked to our homepage, and tagged on Youtube.

In compliance with the University administration decision that each B.A. student is required to prove his/her competence in accessing print and digital materials, an instructional computerized course (on Moodle platform) was created by the Reference department team. The course (questions and electronically stored answers) demands preliminary acquaintance with the library resources and teaches effective search skills in the library catalog and databases, as well as the use of internet tools.

Thus year under the supervision of the Library Authority the library is checking new engines for federated search.

The library makes all efforts to strengthen its connection with patrons. We update our patrons by the library homepage, newsletters, Twitter and Facebook postings. Among other things we arrange different kinds of cultural events, including meetings and exhibitions.

Access for people with disabilities

All areas of the library building are accessible for persons with different kind of disabilities. The entrance and the exit alarm system are safe for a person in a wheelchair, as well as the elevators to different library levels and designated restrooms, the pictogram signs for which are well visible.

Service desks, located near to the entrance, with sufficient space in front of them allow unobstructed access. Parts of reference and circulation desks are adjusted in height to serving a person in a wheelchair. Glass doors are marked to warn visually impaired persons. Two adaptive technology workstations with electrically controlled desks’ height are equipped with software and a variety of ergonomic devices for people with motor impairments. The library public computers software package, received trough the Hebrew University Computer Authority, includes screen reading and enlargement programs, as well as instructional software helpful for people with dyslexia. Ten percent of the library public workstations have a 22" widescreen monitors, much preferred by people with eye impairment. Special guidance aiming to ensure equal access to disabled students is given to them by the Reference department team.

Naomi Alshech

Library Director