Reading the room

Herzliya libraries, now open on Shabbat, see subscriptions spike

Central city’s Mayor Yariv Fisher touts most sign-ups in a single day after deciding earlier this week to keep libraries and country club open over weekend

Illustrative: Readers and researchers trying out the new National Library of Israel building, in Jerusalem, as it opened unofficially on October 29, 2023. (Courtesy Yoni Kelberman)
Illustrative: Readers and researchers trying out the new National Library of Israel building, in Jerusalem, as it opened unofficially on October 29, 2023. (Courtesy Yoni Kelberman)

The mayor of Herzliya announced on Saturday that his initiative to keep libraries open on the weekend had resulted in an all-time high of new subscriptions.

“It appears that [we hit] a record for new library subscriptions in a single day. Same for the new country club,” wrote Yariv Fisher on X. “Shabbat Shalom Herzliya!”

Fisher had announced on social media Tuesday that municipal libraries in Herzliya would stay open on Saturday, when many public institutions in Israel are closed in observance of the Jewish Sabbath.

Fisher, who became Herzliya’s mayor in March with the backing of the opposition, secularist Yesh Atid party, has advocated for greater weekend availability of public services.

In May, he announced Herzliya would join “Naim Busofash,” which provides toll-free buses across central Israel on Saturdays in lieu of public transportation.

The initiative was launched in 2019 by several central municipalities that were fed up with the national government’s longstanding opposition to public transportation on Shabbat.

Israel has over 600 public libraries, offering cultural events, workspaces and book-borrowing services. The Knesset in June voted to slash funding for public libraries, amid budget cuts enacted to offset the cost of the war in Gaza.

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