Beach Reading, Israeli Style

Beach Reading, Israeli Style

New in Tel Aviv: a chance to check out books instead of bods.

As part of a literacy initiative of the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Municipality, a two-wheel book cart appeared last week, at the start of the summer sunbathing season, at the promenade of Tel Aviv’s Metzizim Beach, near the city’s port.

The “Library of the Beach” offers more than 500 books, in five languages: Hebrew, English, Arabic, Russian and French. Everything is on the honor system; there’s no librarian, no fee, no sign-out process; borrowers are expected to read the books then return them.

The bookmobile is designed for residents, tourists and commuters.

The Tel Aviv beach is a mecca for sunbathers every summer, drawing thousands of people who come to swim or tan or jog.

“Tel Aviv is the city of everybody — one of the services we provide is this lovely beach,” Mayor Ron Huldai told the Times of Israel. “To have the library is very nice; ordinary people can take a book when they come and then put it back when they finish.

“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?”

For the electronically inclined, the municipality also installed 80 free Wi-Fi hotspots around the city, many along the beachfront. Users can download electronic reading material at no charge; the FreeTLV program makes summer reading easier for those with Kindles and Nooks.

The program is patterned after those offered in other cities, like Barcelona.

Tel Aviv’s 22 municipal libraries coordinate more than 400,000 books borrowed every year, Huldai said. “It is our pleasure to open another library in the summer months — now you can enjoy a good book at the beach as well.”

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