Page 59 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 15

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ALPERT ----LIBRARIES IN ISRAEL
51
checked the catalogues of some of the major libraries in the country
and found a rather deplorable situation, both with regard to
adequate classification and to cataloguing. The lack of a unified
national filing system is not the worst of the flaws. Some libraries
use the Dewey Decimal System; some the Universal; others, sys­
tems invented by the clerk in charge — or no system at all.
Random courses for the training of librarians have been offered
by the Culture Department of the Histadruth and by the Hebrew
University. But the recent establishment of a Librarians’ Training
School at the Hebrew University will now do much to alleviate the
shortage, if candidates can be found who will be willing to study
for the profession of librarian, which neither has full acceptance
and recognition in Israel, nor commands suitable salaries.
One of the striking factors in any consideration of Israel’s
libraries is the remarkable attention given to collections in the
rural areas. The 1952 survey referred to above indicated that
outside of school libraries, there were 970,316 books in various
city and other public collections in the country’s municipal areas
where perhaps 75 per cent of the population reside. The rural
areas had libraries with a total collection of 805,510, or almost as
many books for one fourth of the population. A similar percentage
was found in the school libraries, where the 75 per cent of the
population in the cities of Israel had 124,826 books, and the 25
per cent in the settlements and farm villages had 112,492.
This reflects, of course, the character of Israel’s rural population.
No one who has visited a kibbutz will fail to have been impressed
with the importance of the library, or
Bet Tarbut
, in the life of
the settlement. Even the youngest kibbutz, practically on the day
of its establishment, begins with a basic library of 150-200 books,
and this foundation is added to regularly and systematically. In
1956 the Culture Division of the Histadruth gave 9,000 books to
border settlements alone.
Brief treatment of the major libraries in the country would
inevitably produce merely a list. This survey purposes rather to
indicate trends and to touch upon certain highlights or significant
features. These will be viewed within the special framework of
types of libraries: rural, municipal, educational, labor, “foreign”
and special collections.
R
u r a l
L
i b r a r i e s
Histadruth records show almost 600 libraries in the collective
and cooperative villages. Not every random shelf of books can
properly be termed a library, and many small collections thus