New York-based YIVO has announced the completion of a joint project to digitize the Edward Blank collection in what is known as the Edward Blank Vilna On-Line Collections Project. The historic initiative took seven years and $7 million to complete. The goal was to sort, conserve and digitize pre-war collections from the YIVO library and archives, and to make them available to everyone online.
The project was carried in concert with the Lithuanian Central State Archive, the Martynas Mažvydas Lithuanian National Library and the Vrublevskiai Library of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences.
Ruth Levine, the director of the board of YIVO, called the completion of the project a new phase in the modern history of the YIVO institute and part of their main mission. She said heroes and martyrs gave their lives to preserve the books and documents in the collection, and expressed gratitude to the Lithuanian partners in the project.
Lithuanian culture minister Simonas Kairys said: “The completion of this important project turns the page as well to a new page in preserving memory. It will help fill the gaps in knowledge, spread understanding about Jewish life in the region before the war and create a firm link of memory between Vilnius and New York. The YIVO Vilna Project is an important undertaking first of all to Lithuania, but also to the entire world, that every one of us must draw from this newly-arising endless ocean of information, not just because of the necessity to remember, honor and celebrate the past, but we must do this if we ourselves want to be better people and create a better world.”