Exclusive: Book Bandits Looting Jerusalem Free Reading Stations

Book Hoarders Stockpiling Popular Titles, Source Reveals

EXCLUSIVE— AfterAliyah.com has learned from well-placed sources that Jerusalem’s popular network of free book lending libraries, the תחנות הקריאה (tahanot kria), are subject to ongoing looting activity with eager readers stockpiling donated books for their own personal libraries and some even snatching up popular titles for resale.

The Jerusalem Municipality maintains a network of reading stations through Jerusalem. Screenshot: Google Maps

A book library in Jerusalem. Photo: Shimshon Leshinsky, via Facebook

Speaking on condition of anonymity, an avid Jerusalem-based reader told After Aliyah that his suspicions had been aroused after he noticed that attractive titles were being snatched up at suspicious speed.

“I couldn’t help but notice that How To Install Windows 95 was front and center but the John Grisham [novelist] books were being taken within a day,” he said.

The source said that he had personally witnessed individuals arriving to the reading stations bearing large plastic bags while meticulously sifting through titles to pull out popular works while discarding the old computer books.

“I saw one guy pull out about 70 copies,” the source said — referring to activity that had targeted one of the more popular stations on Park HaMesila.

The source said that he believed that some readers were abusing the goodwill system by hoarding books for their personal reading collections — snatching up titles without any intention of returning them. He also alleged that some of those frequenting the reading stations were actually selling the books on the second hand market.

English-speaking books in Israel are something of a prized commodity, with readers ordering from websites like Book Depository to get their hands on books, often waiting weeks to months for them to show up in Israel.

The Jerusalem Municipality has installed a system of reading libraries around the city in order to encourage reading. The libraries are extremely popular with the community, particularly during Shabbat when religiously observant Jews refrain from using electricity — including Kindle e-readers.

During the past summer one of Jerusalem’s books libraries was subject to an arson attack. The move prompted the Municipality to install security cameras at the affected site.

After Aliyah has reached out to the Jerusalem Municipality for comment on the matter.

Article ID: 859

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