The National Library in Jerusalem’s Givat Ram is launching a massive drive on
Sunday to donate its excess books to the public.
For the second year in a
row, the library plans to give away approximately 24,000 books, free of
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More than 80 percent of the books are in English.
books are almost exclusively non-fiction, including history, biography, art and
some poetry. They come from a collection of nearly half a million books donated
to the library over the years by individuals and institutions that the library
hasn’t had the resources to process until now.
The public is invited to
peruse books at the plaza outside the National Library starting on Sunday at 10
The book giveaway is expected to last for at least four days, or
until all the books have gone.
The library, located on the Hebrew
University’s Givat Ram campus, has more than five million items.
library processes the books, any work of which it has more than three copies or
that does not belong to the library’s three core areas of research – Judaism,
Israel and Islam – is put aside.
The books are first offered to schools
and libraries; if they are not chosen, they are put in a collection to be given
to the public.
Most of the giveaways are in English because the library
began processing books donated in English first. But there are books available
inFrench, Russian and German as well. Only 3,000 of the 24,000 works being given
away are in Hebrew.
“There’s no justification in continuing to store
books that aren’t useful to the library,” National Library Director Oren
Weinberg said. “We’d rather return them to the public, for free.”
year, the library gave away 14,000 books during a similar weeklong giveaway and
hundreds of people came, said Yaniv Levy, head of technical services at the
library who is overseeing this year’s book drive.
“We were very surprised
by the strong interest, by the fact that people took books last year,” Levy
There is no limit on the number of books a person can take away,
though Levy noted that book lovers are usually courteous and don’t come with
The giveaway comes as libraries across the country are
coming to the aid of the recently closed Kiryat Shmona public
Levy said he hoped the large giveaway would raise public
consciousness about books.
“Libraries are an important part of the
culture and should be promoted more and used more,” he said. “Anything that’s
being done to promote public libraries in general is good thing.”