Kiryat Shmona library - Yaron Kaminsky - 20092011
Donated books delivered to the Kiryat Shmona library this week. Photo by Yaron Kaminsky
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Most of the books donated to Kiryat Shmona's library have only just reached their destination, some two months after the public library reopened.

The books, donated as part of a public campaign initiated last June to save the library, were brought to the library this week by the town's municipal government.

Yet the campaign's organizers complain that only 1,926 books - of more than 3,000 donated - actually reached the library. They add that many of the books that did reach the library are in dusty, sub-par condition.

The book donations represented a symbolic step in a public struggle to save the library from closure. The campaign succeeded after the government decided in June to cover NIS 6 million in debts accumulated by Kiryat Shmona's community center, which operates the town's library.

The books were donated last June after the library had already closed its doors; they were given instead to the municipality. The library reopened a month later, but the books remained with the municipality.

Naftali Raz, who organized the book donation campaign, was appalled when he visited the library on Sunday to examine the books. He said he discovered that not all the donated books had been moved to the library from the municipality, and that he was outraged by the shabby condition of many of the books.

Raz claims that of 500 books donated by writers such as David Grossman, A.B. Yehoshua and Sami Michael, only 180 are now in the library.

In addition to the donated books, Raz said a sum of NIS 21,000 was raised for the library, largely for computer purchases.

"I wanted to come to the library with these writers," Raz said, "but it became clear that many of the books are ripped and dirty - and yet nobody donated a single dirty, torn volume. I had an unpleasant experience there."

Municipal officials insist that all of the donated books have been moved to the library, and that anyone who suggests otherwise might be subject to claims of slander.

"Apart from a few new volumes," these officials say, "the books were not in good shape, and that's an understatement. Simply out of respect to the authors we didn't return these books the day they came."