British Council decides to close Jerusalem library [p. 4]

The British Council announced Thursday it will close its Jerusalem library on January 31, with its NIS 8 million operating budget being redirected to other projects in Israel. British Council Director Jim Buttery, Assistant Director Julia Smith and Karen Kaufman, the press and public affairs officer at the British Embassy told the The Jerusalem Post that the decision to close the Malha library came following a drop in demand for its services. They speculated this was due to the increased availability of English language reading material both on-line and in local book stores. The council's collection of reading material and other media will be donated to a multi-language library in the city. Buttery and Kaufman said an alternative approach was needed to help Israelis learn English and about British culture. The NIS 8m. saved by closing the library will be spent on increased scientific and cultural exchanges that target young Israelis. "Our global strategy of reaching more people will be better met by redirecting our resources to large-scale projects and high profile events," Buttery said. The closure of the library should not be seen as the council leaving the capital, Buttery said. "We will maintain a presence in Jerusalem with a partner organization," he said. "We are here to build relationships and understanding between people in Britain and across the world through increasing the appreciation of the UK ideas and achievements."