Page 54 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 27

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THE I S R A E L P L - 4 8 0 P R O G R A M ,
1 9 6 4 - 1 9 6 9 : A R E V I E W
By
C
h a r l e s
B
erlin
F
o r t h e p a s t f i v e y e a r s
the United States government has
conducting a program unique in the annals of Judaic librar
ship. Within the framework of what is commonly referre
the Public Law-480 Program, the United States government
been supplying some twenty-five American research libraries
a copy of virtually every book and periodical published curre
in the State of Israel.
The government’s entry into the world of Hebrew book
the by-product of an earlier humanitarian gesture. In 1954
Food for Peace Program (Public Law-480) was established,
abling certain needy countries to purchase surplus Amer
agricultural products in their own currency instead of in dol
Since the local currency was to be spent only in that cou
large amounts accumulated to the credit of the United St
in these countries. Some of this money was made availabl
grants and loans to promote economic development; other f
were used for various cultural projects. One such project wa
assist American libraries to develop their resources in var
areas.
Since the end of the Second World War, American rese
libraries have been faced with the enormous task of develo
collections of materials on new areas of the world now begin
to receive attention from scholars and students. This is espec
true of the new nations of Asia and Africa as well as of the c
tries of Eastern Europe. The task was complicated by the abs
in many of these places of a well-organized book trade to fill
needs of these libraries. In an attempt to alleviate this diffic
the American Library Association, the Asssociation of Rese
Libraries, the Social Science Research Council and the Amer
Council of Learned Societies recommended—and Congress pa
in 1958—an amendment to Public Law-480 authorizing the Li
of Congress to use part of the blocked local currency for
purchase of materials published in these countries. The am
ment was implemented in 1961 when such acquisition prog
were established in India, Pakistan and the United Arab Repu
Since then the program has been extended to other areas in
ing Ceylon, Nepal, Indonesia and Yugoslavia.
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