Page 12 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 46

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
Baron’s library had been purchased in 1917 for the Hebrew
University Library, which was therefore its rightful owner. If
diplomatic relations are eventually restored between Russia and
Israel, it is to be hoped that Israel’s claim will finally be honored
and that Baron Gunzburg’s library will be transferred to J e ru ­
salem.
I l l
On the occasion of the centennial of the founding of the Tel-
Aviv Library in 1886 there has appeared a commemorative vol­
ume entitled
Ir va-Sefer: Sifriat Sha’ar Tsiyyon
Beit Ariela
(A
City and Its Book: The Sha’ar Zion — Beit Ariela Library, J e r ­
usalem: Keter, 1987). Edited by Orah Ahimeir, the volume also
marks the completion of a decade of the new spacious central
library building, completed in 1977 and endowed by the Gitter
family in memory of their young daughter Ariela.
In addition to presenting information on the early years of
the Sha’ar Zion Library, the volume also offers descriptions of
four specialized libraries -— the rabbinic-scientific Rambam Li­
brary and the Ahad Ha’am Library, both of which are now
housed in the central library building, and Beit Bialik and the
Central Library for Music and Dance, which have their own
quarters.
Through various memoirs and accounts a picture is drawn
of the humble beginnings of the Sha’ar Zion Library, which
in 1886 was first housed in a room made available in the home
of Eliezer Rokach in Jaffa. The move to Tel-Aviv was made
in 1913. During the 1890’s opinion was divided as to the location
of a proposed national library. Eliezer Ben-Yehudah held out
for Jerusalem, while Moshe Leib Lilienblum opted for Jaffa.
It was Menahem M. Usishkin who played the decisive role in
the decision to choose Jerusalem. When in the mid-90’s the
collection o f Joseph Chasonowich was tran s fe r red from
Bialystok to Jerusalem, the die was cast for that city.
In 1922, Sha’ar Zion was designated the municipal library
of Tel-Aviv. With the death of Ahad Ha’am his library was
made part of Sha’ar Zion. Among the librarians of note were
such well-known figures as Zechariah Fishman, Dr. Abraham
Kahana and Dr. Heinrich Loewe.
From a modest collection during its first six decades, the Tel-