The Knesset Education Committee on Wednesday approved the first reading of a bill presented by committee chairman MK Michael Melchior (Labor-Meimad) to dramatically expand the government's share of funding for some 1,100 public libraries. Out of the NIS 170 million cost for running the libraries, local councils cover some NIS 15m. of the cost, with the government contributing the remaining NIS 19m. Following negotiations between Melchior and the Finance Ministry that preceded the presentation of the bill, the government agreed to add NIS 11m. per year to the total budget for each of the next six years, a total transfer of NIS 66m.