Gan Yavne Library, Israel “Since I’ve been able to read I’ve been a bookworm”

Aviah at the lending counter: “That way I can borrow six to seven books every two weeks!”
Aviah at the lending counter: “That way I can borrow six to seven books every two weeks!” | Photo (detail) | © private

My name is Aviah and I'm twelve years old. Since I've been able to read, I've been reading everything I can get my hands on: newspapers, advertising texts, comics and, of course, books.

I was born in Israel. My Dad is Israeli, my Mum is Swiss. She speaks Swiss German to us children, and so I've also picked up German at the same time. That's why I have books in two languages back home. I can read German, but since I am much slower in this language than in Hebrew, I don't enjoy it that much. That's why I read almost exclusively in my mother tongue. Maybe that will change at some point.

There are Hebrew and English books here in the library. I'm not borrowing English works yet, although I have been learning English in school since second grade.

On some days our library is open in the mornings and on some in the afternoons. I visit it every afternoon, because I'm at school in the morning. Sometimes we go by bike, sometimes by car - and we've even gone there on foot. Most of the time my mother accompanies me, and I often meet people I know in the library. I've also gotten book recommendations from some of them. I'll be happy to follow them. I often like the book I’ve been recommended very much.

Aviah at the lending counter “That way I can borrow six to seven books every two weeks!” | Photo (detail): © private I read a lot - actually in every free minute. I prefer books with exciting detective stories. I also read German writers in Hebrew translation, such as Erich Kästner and Michael Ende.

We used to go to the library at least once a week. Since I started attending a secondary school in our neighbouring town, it has become rarer, but I still manage to get there every two weeks. I borrow six to seven books every time, plus one for my younger brother. He doesn't (yet) like to read as much as I do.

The library also hosts a variety of events. Last year, for example, I met the Israeli writer Galia Oz personally. She came to the library for a reading. I own all her books and brought them with me, and she signed them and even wrote a dedication. Later I also bought her latest book, which she told me about at the reading before it was published.

Aviah and Israeli writer Galia Oz Aviah and Israeli writer Galia Oz | Photo (detail): © private I choose books either based on the cover or on the story. I study the blurb and then decide whether I am interested in the story. Every now and then I read the Hebrew version of a book, and Mama reads the German or English edition at the same time. Afterwards we can talk about how we liked the book.

Besides the library in Gan Yavne I also visit my school library. There the selection is a bit different, so I can borrow more books. This way I don't run out of reading material so quickly.

A part of the library is a memorial room for fallen soldiers and terror victims from Gan Yavne. A part of the library is a memorial room for fallen soldiers and terror victims from Gan Yavne. | Photo (detail): © private  

The Gan Yavne Library was opened in 1990 with the help of the Jewish Agency and a donation from its Canadian twin city, Winnipeg. The collection comprises around 38,000 books, audio books and other publications and is open to the 30,000 inhabitants of Gan Yavnes. Currently 6700 readers are registered, but not all of them are active. The library sees itself as a place of relaxation and well-being, of learning, discovery and experience. Next to the lending counter is a shelf with books sold for 5 shekels each. This is well received, because books are very expensive in Israel.

Library director Ziva Ofer and her team organise regular cultural events in the library. There are monthly theatre performances, events for children from 1 to 3 years old, readings and meetings with Israeli authors and much more. The library is represented by a stand at public events in the town.

Part of the library serves as a memorial for Gan Yavne's fallen soldiers and terror victims. In it there are photos with their names and the dates of their lives, folders with personal information, as well as thematically suitable literature.