Galilee College Offers to Bankroll Debt-ridden Kiryat Shmona Library

Tel-Hai Academic College in the Galilee is offering to temporarily run the Kiryat Shmona library, which was shut down late last month due to debts of close to NIS 7 million, the college's managing director said yesterday.

The offer came after Haaretz reported yesterday that the liquidator of the community center in which the library is located has ordered the library closed due to the debts it had accrued.

"It is absurd for there not to be a library in Kiryat Shmona," said Yossi Malka, the college's managing director. "We offered to take over operations of the library on a limited basis until another agency or body assumes responsibility for it. If our offer is not accepted, we will make the college's library available to the general public, but this is the less preferable solution because a library needs to be accessible to all readers."

MK Eli Aflalo (Kadima ) submitted an urgent motion for a plenum discussion on the library's fate and appealed to Interior Minister Eli Yishai to prevent the library's closure. The matter is scheduled to be deliberated in the Knesset next week.

"It is inconceivable that instead of encouraging people to embrace a culture of reading, we are making it more difficult for those who want to read books," Aflalo said. "Books are not only a source of enjoyment, but there are also quite a few studies showing that reading books improves one's ability to articulate, expands one's general knowledge, develops one's imagination, and represents a source of therapy."

The closure also means that the children of Kiryat Shmona are also being deprived of a quiet place to study, said Aflalo.

"Shuttering the only library in Kiryat Shmona is a very grave act," he said. "What are students whose parents do not have the means to buy books, or who use the library as a quiet, convenient setting in which to study after school, to do without this alternative?"