A novel idea

On Tel Aviv’s beaches, reading between the tan lines

A new beachfront mobile library features books in five languages and allows sunbathers to borrow volumes for free

Debra writes for the JTA, and is a former features writer for The Times of Israel.

Beachgoers take a look at the library's collection. (Photo credit: Malovani Israel)
Beachgoers take a look at the library's collection. (Photo credit: Malovani Israel)

Tel Aviv beach bunnies have something new to look forward to this summer as they hit the sand: a mobile library, so they can grab a book while getting bronzed.

The library, courtesy of the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Municipality, is essentially a giant bookshelf on wheels featuring 523 books in five languages: Hebrew, English, Arabic, Russian and French. It is currently parked at Metzizim Beach and will be open until the end of summer.

Bikini-clad bibliophiles who forget to pack their own reading material can simply wander up to the cart, select a volume, and take it back to their spot on the sand. There is no fee and no sign-out process; the library operates entirely on the honor system.

More tech-savvy sunlovers who prefer to get their literary fix via e-readers are not left out of the project, either. The Tel Aviv-Jaffa municipality has also recently rolled out 80 free Wi-Fi hotspots, including at its beaches. Beach-goers on Kindles and Nooks can log on to the network, dubbed FreeTLV, and download to their hearts’ content, giving “Surf’s Up” a whole new meaning.

Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, who was on hand for the launch of the mobile library on Tuesday, said that the service is not only for Tel Aviv residents but also for the tourists that flood its seashore and the commuters who help its businesses thrive.

“Tel Aviv is the city of everybody,” he said. “We have only 400,000 residents but 1 million people commute every day to the city, and one of the services we provide is this lovely beach. To have this library is very nice; ordinary people can take a book when they come and then put it back when they finish.”

He admitted that the library, and particularly its honor code system, is a work in progress.

“We’ll see if it works,” he said. “If it’s nice maybe we’ll bring in another one to another part of the beach. Why not?”

read more:
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed