Hapoalim Tosses Kiryat Shmona Library a Lifeline

Bank Hapoalim is expected to allocate some NIS 400,000 to reopen the library in Kiryat Shmona within the next few days, Haaretz has learned.

The Kiryat Shmona community center had racked debts of about NIS 7 million.
Dror Artzi

As Haaretz reported last week, the town's library was shut down at the decision of the temporary liquidator of the city's community center, in which the library is located. Liquidator Ehud Raz said the center had accumulated debts of about NIS 7 million.

The bank will pass on the money after the liquidator receives a court confirmation today that the money is to go directly to the library.

Asked by MK Eli Aflalo about the library's closure, Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat said yesterday that as soon as she heard about it, her ministry asked the Kiryat Shmona municipality to find an alternative body to operate the library, which the ministry would finance.

The community center and library staff, who have not been paid for several months now, were told that if no funds were deposited today additional divisions of the community center would close down, including adult education and toddlers' center.

"We are exhausted and worn out. Every second day some new savior pops up and disappears," one staff member said.

The Knesset's Education Committee chairman, MK Zevulun Orlev, said at the committee's session on Tuesday, "Closing a library is a worse crime than closing a school."

The committee stated that shutting down the library was in violation of the public libraries law and called on the culture minister to find a solution to the problem. "A series of shortcomings on the government and municipality's part is preventing Kiryat Shmona's children from reading books," Orlev said.

MK Uri Orbach, who lived in Kiryat Shmona for a few years, said "the library is a symbol of the town, it stands for culture, not luxury. It's the municipality's responsibility to solve the problem."