The British Library's collections of Hebrew books have become increasingly wide-ranging, and continues to grow. Subjects including art, archaeology, biblical studies and rabbinics, bibliography, history, the geography of Israel, the holocaust, belles-lettres, Yiddish studies, sociology and politics are all well represented.
Since 1973, when the British Library took over from the British Museum, printed material in Hebrew characters has continued to be acquired through purchase, exchange, gift and legal deposit. In the past, Hebrew books had been mostly religious in nature, but more recent acquisitions, particularly in the second half of the 20th century, have covered a very broad range of subjects.
A growing interest in Yiddish studies, particularly in the last forty years, has led to the addition of around 4,000 Yiddish volumes. Many of these were printed in Central and Eastern Europe before the Second World War.
There has also been greater emphasis on obtaining specific categories of material, such as scholarly monographs and monograph series, reference aids and facsimile editions of Hebrew manuscripts held in the British Library and elsewhere. Moreover, a sustained policy of filling gaps in the antiquarian holdings has resulted in the addition of imprints from London, Baghdad, Calcutta and Bombay, as well as works in Judeo-Spanish, Judeo-Arabic and Yiddish.