The new National Library of Israel building opened in October 2023, featuring an advanced automated storage and retrieval system from Dematic and purpose-designed reusable containers manufactured by Plasgad.
The National Library of Israel was founded in 1892. It is a unique institution among the world’s largest libraries and is home to the State of Israel’s creativity, culture, and history. The library collects and preserves a variety of archives, manuscripts, certificates, maps, music recordings, and other items of special national, historical, or cultural importance.
New National Library building overview
The newly constructed campus of the National Library of Israel is a masterpiece envisioned by the Swiss architectural powerhouse Herzog & de Meuron and executed by the Israeli firm Mann-Shinar. It stands opposite the Knesset and beside the Israel Museum. Spanning almost 500,000 square feet, the 11-story facility welcomes the public to a vast main reading hall designed to accommodate 600 visitors, set amid beautifully landscaped gardens, plazas, and an inviting outdoor amphitheater. The project, costing NIS 845 million or around USD 228 million, saw generous contributions from donors covering 85% of the expenses.
This architectural gem is home to numerous public spaces, including exhibition areas, a visitors’ center, and educational facilities. A striking central atrium bathed in natural light from a glass roof and windows adorning the lower floors enhances its grandeur. Below ground, a rotunda gallery boasts a large window that offers a glimpse into the library’s automated stacks, showcasing a state-of-the-art robotic retrieval system that stands as a highlight for visitors.
The building is a model of sustainability, equipped with solar panels, energy-efficient lighting, and Israel’s pioneering underground rockstore. This innovative thermal energy storage system significantly cuts the energy needed for cooling, lowers the building’s carbon footprint, and promises up to 20% operational savings compared to traditional cooling methods.
Book storage and handling
The building covers approximately 485,375 square ft: 6 floors with an area of approximately 161,458 square ft. above ground and 4 floors with an area of 322,917 square ft. below ground. This huge building will be home to approximately 4,100,000 books most of the collections will be kept on the shelves of the library’s huge, automated logistics warehouse that covers 19,375 square ft. and is 66 ft. height.
Plasgad was chosen to develop and manufacture the industrial containers for the innovative logistics center as a winner of the very competitive tender with local and international bidders. The project was managed and carried out by the US‑based company Dematic, which specializes in the establishment of advanced automated warehouses.
The design requirements defined that the boxes had to be heavy-duty and would need to be well-suited for quick retrieval by a smart robotic arm. The industrial containers were required to have two different heights, with a strong base capable of carrying heavy loads and the option of add-on in-place assembly rigid partitions to divide each crate into several storage compartments, if required.
In accordance with these requirements, Plasgad developed a series of advanced logistics containers with dimensions of 32X24 in two different heights of 12.6 inches and 16.5 inches and with the option of adding dividers that allow division into 2,3,4,6,8, 9,12 cells, and their removal. The containers are designed to be used in automated systems; they have a reinforced double bottom and can carry a load of up to 330 pounds.
The industrial containers were adapted to the library’s state-of-the-art robotic warehouse that operates without human intervention. Four smart robotic arms (“cranes”) identify the location of the required crate among the thousands of containers, pull it out and move it to the collection area in the warehouse.
“The National Library project is one of the most beautiful and important that Plasgad has participated in in recent years, both in terms of the solution we provided and the enormous importance that this institution has,” said Iftah Poran, VP BD at Plasgad. “We are proud to be a significant contributor of such a project.
“It is a complex project and we were able to successfully meet all the design and production requirements set by Dematic and the National Library,” he continued. “This project proves our advanced R&D capabilities that enable us to design and manufacture smart containers perfectly suited for automated warehouses. This project yet again reinforces our position as a market leader in packaging and shipping solutions for the automatic logistics chains, customized to the specific needs of each customer.”
“As far as the National Library is concerned, the collaboration with Plasgad was very successful,” stated Yaniv Levy-Koram, head of the library processes department at the National Library. “This is manifested on all levels: the quality of the containers, the work discipline, the ongoing coordination with various interest-holders and the precision of delivery. I’d like to point out that even whenever we’ve had problems to solve, the solution provided was quick, seamless and well-coordinated. There is no doubt that in such a complicated project, Plasgad has proven to be an excellent partner with a great coordination ability vis-à-vis the broad variety of suppliers.”