Page 66 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 15

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58
JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
Of primary concern is the dearth of suitably trained librarians,
though it is hoped that the Hebrew University will soon meet this
need. Inadequate physical facilities in the urban areas is another
factor which serves to retard proper use of libraries. Numerous
large collections are almost completely lacking in reading room
space. Hand in hand with this disadvantage is the system of closed
stacks, permitting the would-be reader first hand contact only
with a catalogue card which he often finds very difficult to locate.
The pressing financial handicaps also render necessary a reading
fee in almost every one of the large city libraries. For this reason,
the free public library, as developed in the United States, is,
except for the United States Information Service Library and the
Nahariya Library, almost unknown in Israel. Lack of funds
restricts the growth of those libraries which, in large part, augment
their collections through gifts rather than through planned pur­
chase. A number of the libraries give clear and unmistakable
evidence that they depend on gifts as the principal source of their
books.
Despite all, the growth of Israel’s libraries has been phenomenal.
There is every reason to believe that, within a relatively short
period, scientific librarianship will eliminate shortcomings and
abuses, and will set many of the library collections on uniformly
high standards.