I don't think I've ever written about the library situation here, but as they are just reopening after being closed for the Holidays, library life has certainly been on my mind.
While I have heard that public libraries do exist in Israel, there are not any near us. Therefore, we belong to three separate private libraries. Each one has a yearly membership fee and also a limit on how many books may be checked out at a time. The biggest library, for example, charges about $25 for a yearly membership that allows us to take out 5 books at a time. We have two memberships :). The big library reminds me a lot of the Winthrop Public Library children's room--very small, but with a nice feel to it. Which makes it feel a little odd when I'm in there and turn the corner of a display shelf and come face-to-face with shelves in Amharic (the neighborhood has a large Ethiopian presence). The whole library is about evenly divided between books in Hebrew, English and Amharic!
The smaller library, which is much closer to us, has books mostly in Hebrew and English. It's open one morning a week for two hours, and then 3 afternoons a week for two hours. Definitely not your average US public library! The books there tend to be older and well-worn, and I have had many frustrated thoughts about all the boxes of books we gave away before making aliyah and how our donations could have truly made a difference to the library here (and we had extra space on our lift, too).....
The last library is right near our house and is housed in a synagogue. Unlike the other two, this one only contains Jewish-themed books (lucky for us there is a thriving business publishing Jewish fiction) and is open only one morning and one evening a week. This library has been closed since Rosh Hashanah and just opened again last night!
We also use Overdrive (which allows reading US library books online) to help supplement our reading. Together, we manage to cobble together what to read, but it is a big change from the US, when we would go to the library Friday afternoon and return with 40 or more books. May it be our biggest problem, right?!