in 1929, at the beginning of the academic year, the first President of the Hebrew University J. L. Magnes announced the establishment of a university press, there were only 200 students at the University.
This step called for daring and vision. The Land of Israel, said Dr. Magnes, is in many respects far from being in vital touch with the great world of scholarship, and it is therefore essential for scholars of the University to maintain through their works, contact with their colleagues throughout the world. Furthermore, through these scholarly contributions the University will be able to win a respected position among scholarly institutions.
As a tribute to Dr. Magnes, following his death in 1949, the university press was named after him.
It is not fortuitous that a primary concern of the University trustees, including the poet Haim Nachman Bialik, was the establishment of a university press; they knew and realized that a publishing house with a high academic standard, both Jewish and university oriented, was an integral part of the whole university concept.
The Magnes Press has mirrored the stages of the University`s growth and achievement in all areas.
Just as the University was a necessity for a renewed existence in the Land of Israel, so too, a university press was a desideratum for the creation and fostering of texts and learning materials for lecturers and students.
Four goals were envisaged by the creators of the Magnes Press:
a) Provision for the teaching, research and scholarly needs of the university
b) Expansion of available resources of scholarship in the Hebrew language on Jewish and general topics
c) Publication of works by university scholars
d) Publication of works beneficial to scholarship and mankind, and specifically research in Judaism.
To a great extent the Magnes Press has fulfilled the goals envisaged by its founder and directors.
About 3,000 titles published in Hebrew and various other languages in numerous areas of research