Street library in Beit Shemesh
Street library in Beit ShemeshBeit Shemesh municipality

Following the decision of the Culture Ministry to close all municipal libraries, the Beit Shemesh Municipality has decided to move the libraries onto the streets.

Residents will be able to borrow books from bookcases set up at various locations in the city. Each book is wrapped in plastic in accordance with the instructions of the Ministry of Health and when books are returned they will be disinfected and re-wrapped.

The project is being headed by Rina Hollander, the deputy mayor. “Even in the technological age, there is no substitute for a printed book,” she said. “We are constantly working to expand our library services and make them as widely available to the public as possible.

“The current crisis presented us with a challenge – to set up, within a short space of time, libraries on the streets, which is actually something that we have dreamed of doing for a long while. We met the challenge successfully and this week, we set up three outdoor libraries and hope to set up more in the future. We invite members of the public to visit and borrow books, following the guidelines posted on the bookshelves. Many thanks to Orna Nahmani, Ruti Deri, and the rest of the library’s staff for helping to make this happen,” Hollander added.

Mayor of Beit Shemesh Dr. Aliza Bloch noted: “If our residents cannot come to the libraries then the libraries will come to them. I was not willing to see a situation where the residents of Beit Shemesh would be cut off from their books, and so we found a solution that complies with the government’s emergency guidelines. I hope that the libraries’ books will give the children – and their parents – a place of refuge during this complex period,” Bloch said.

Arutz Sheva contacted the Beit Shemesh municipality asking for additional clarification regarding the potential dangers of spreading the coronavirus from person to person when children choose among several books before taking one home. The municipality's spokesman insisted that everything was being “done in accordance with the Health Ministry’s guidelines,” and compared touching the books and bookshelves to touching doorknobs, questioning “should we remove doorknobs?”