Page 75 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 36

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The Center for Public Libraries in Israel
h e
e n t e r
f o r
u b l i c
i b r a r i e s
in Israel was founded in
1965 by the three organizations then most active in librarian-
ship in Israel: the Libraries Section of the Ministry of Educa-
tion and Culture, the Israel Library Association (ILA ), and
the Graduate School of Library and Archive Studies of the
Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Its Hebrew name,
Merkaz Ha-
Hadracha Le-Sifriyot Tz ibbur iyot ,
can be literally translated
as “Guidance Center for Public Libraries,” a title which reflected
the state and needs of public libraries in Israel in 1965. The
Center’s major activities are in the fields of centralized cata-
loging, acquisitions, and processing, non-academic training in
librarianship, and the publication of library literature, bibli-
ographies, and current book-selection tools. The Center’s ac-
tivities cannot be understood without at least a brief description
of the Israeli public library scene.
The role tha t could be played by public libraries in the solu-
tion of the educational problems faced by the young State
of Israel in the wake of the mass immigration of its early years
was only slowly understood by the government educational
establishment. T he Libraries Section of the Ministry of Educa-
tion and Culture was not reorganized until 1961, when the late
K. I. Golan was appointed director.
Public library services in Israel are provided by the local
authorities—municipalities and local councils in the cities and
towns, regional councils in rural areas—under the supervision
of the Libraries Section. Tha t, at least, is the in ten t of current
legislation, though there are still quite a few older established
municipalities whose library systems are not yet under super-
vision. On the other hand, the library services provided by many
moshavim (cooperative small-holders’ settlements) and kib-
butzim are not yet supervised since the “local authority” is too
small to provide the type of library service envisaged by the
legislation and has not joined a regional library network. Vol-
untary groups, such as local Workers’ Councils, WIZO, B’nai
B’r ith and others, have—and still do—run public libraries in
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