From a musty archive room to a spectacular cultural center: the great upheaval of "Beit Ariela"
The Beit Ariela Library in Tel Aviv has become a cultural center thanks to a major renovation, with free workspaces for the public, a design that brought more light to the building and a variety of cultural events.
Sagi Ben Nun
Thursday, 25 November 2021, 12:29 Updated: 12:46
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The Beit Ariela Library is launched as a cultural center after extensive renovation, November 2021 (Photo: Guy Yechieli)
Dr. Uri Ellis, Director of Beit Ariela and the Library Department of the Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality (Photo: courtesy of the photographers)
In Batman's comics, the sub-character of Barbara Gordon first appeared in the 1960s.
In her double life she was on the one hand a librarian living a solid and private life, and on the other hand she changed the librarian's clothes into Batgirl's uniform, and fought in a team with Batman and Robin.
And now, get the Israeli version of Batgirl: Beit Ariela-Girl, the library that is radically changing its face.
These days, the fascinating upheaval is taking place, during which the mythical Beit Ariela Library of Tel Aviv is becoming a cultural center, or as its new slogan says: "Beit Ariela - a completely different story."
The library, which has so far been entirely devoted to books and knowledge acquisition, launched itself this week solemnly as an urban cultural center, which will allow residents to use its spaces for creation and presentation to an audience. The building, which covers about ten thousand square meters, has undergone a comprehensive upgrade and renovation in the last five years with a total cost of about 72 million shekels. The old institution's technologies have been upgraded, and a comic book library, comfortable seating areas and soon a café have been added to the old reference and loan libraries. Most services are provided free of charge, seven days a week.
"Beit Ariela today is much more than a library," says Dr. Uri Ellis, director of Beit Ariela and the library department at the Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality. As a place of microfilms and a musty smell of yesteryear. Today the library looks completely different today. In recent years a long renovation of the library has been done. And after we finished the year of running, we got to the official initiation. Tuesday was the first launch event in a series of launch events to expose audiences to the transformation the library has undergone and the new things it offers. A lot of people do not know that the library looks the way it does. The Ariella House today has highly sought-after work spaces, both individual and group, great places to sit and work for free. There are many events that take place every evening. There is a cultural center, which does the cultural season, we have built a professional video studio here and we broadcast online, there is also a podcast studio.We offer some of these things for free. "
The Beit Ariela Library is launched as a cultural center (Photo: Guy Yechieli)
Part of the concept of the renovation was to bring more light into the building.
"The renovation architects, Roni Sela and Ganit Meislitz-Kasif, did an amazing job here and turned the building into a pearl and a creation in itself. They opened the building outwards. The ideology of the building's original architecture was to isolate the reader from the outside so he could be alone with his book. Built like a bunker that is sealed outwards. The renovation here has opened the place out. In the 'urban living room' there is now an open showcase overlooking King Saul Boulevard, you can see the street and the street can see the library. "It's something else. Since the end of the renovation, the library has been open until ten in the evening, and my vision is for the library to be open 24/7, and to be accessible at any time."
I mean, if Miri Regev has Chanchov Manchis at two in the morning - maybe you can satisfy your hunger and come to the library at this time?
(Laughs) "Just like that. The goal is for it to be a public resource. The public in Tel Aviv has invested a lot of money here and I am committed to repaying that investment. Whether it's in the library's services, whether it's in cultural activities the library provides, "In the municipal living room and also a dance show at night for adults. And workshops and summer camps and everything that returns the investment to the public."
When a library becomes a cultural center - where does it raise dilemmas? And where do you set a limit so as not to spill over into too entertaining places and maintain the quality of the place in general and the core of literature in particular?
"First of all, it is clear that our literature is the center. Beit Ariela is a cultural center whose focus is literature and that is of course what is important to us. And we also offer activities in architecture, film, history, courses in these fields with the best lecturers. "And we are willing to accept offers from the public for things they want to do for themselves or see here, as long as it is free, we do not host commercial activities here and if we think it is of sufficient quality and with enough public interest."
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Beit Ariela Library (Photo: Amnon Horesh)
Not many know that there are more books underground than visible books above ground in the Ariella House, and that there are quite a few treasures there.
"Most of the library is underground, in warehouses, most of them not on an open shelf in the display. The renovation has made room in the library to make it a place for books to people. In demand, there are also real treasures in safes - letters and ancient sacred literature. There have been very sophisticated robberies here in the past. There is the safe of Hebrew literature, Leah Goldberg's diaries, Avot Yeshurun's song drafts and more. The launch takes place here in collaboration with the ensemble Atim, a theatrical show, a kind of night tour, which will premiere at the end of this month. For a night tour. "
Ron Huldai, Mayor of Tel Aviv-Yafo, added: "Completing the renovation and launching of the Beit Ariela Library is the icing on the cake of the municipal vision for the renewal and upgrade of all cultural institutions in the city. Along with classic halls for reading and borrowing - there are also rooms for rehearsals, creation, work, or gatherings. Almost all the services offered are available for free or for a very small fee. And everything happens in a comfortable, inviting space, open to the public seven days a week. "Ariella, which after the renovation is a powerful engine for the creation of countless urban and human stories."
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Beit Ariela Library (Photo: Amnon Horesh)
The library is currently being inaugurated as a cultural center in a series of literary, cultural and performance events open to the general public. The opening event took place on Tuesday (Tuesday) with the "One Moment, the Written Word" festival and in the near future there will be quite a few more interesting cultural events in the library spaces:
November 29: The opening night of the Tel Aviv Tel Aviv Poetry Festival, under the artistic direction of Oded Carmeli and David Neo Bohbot , And with the participation of Meir Wieseltir, Rivka Miriam, Shani Poker, Yaron London and Yehu Yaron.
December 2: Happening for the launch of the new comic book library at Beit Ariela.
December 9-11: The Independent Book Fair, artistically edited by Shira Hefer and Yuval Avivi, as part of which the best independent publishing houses will present books and magazines for sale at great discounts. At the same time there will be literary events for adults and children, with the participation of Vladimir Sorokin (Russia), Joshua Cohen (USA), Kelly Link (USA), Alex Harrow (USA) Giovanna Giordano (Italy), Nurit Zarchi, Noa Manheim and Shannon Street.
December 12-18: "Sunset Time" edited by Or Magal: A line of events in which the library will undergo a transformation every evening. Or studying in the library and gallery spaces, among the participating musicians Zoe Polanski, Yehezkel Raz, Ziv Brashi, Thai Rona, Aviad Siemens, and among the participating artists Roni Karni, Ofer Laufer, Naama Bar-Or, Yosef Mashiach, Ruthi de Price, Shir Tarko, Oren Fischer ,Itzik Avizohar and Karin Kimmel.
December 12 and 16: Yonatan Keret will return to play the character of Pnina Gruberman, in a funny musical show, written especially for Beit Ariela.
December 22: Beit Ariela hosts the author Nicole Krauss, in collaboration with Tel Aviv University.
December 23: A joint conference of Beit Ariela and the Haaretz newspaper, with meetings between the main creators, activists and thinkers in Israel. From television to climate, from hip-hop to social justice, from parenthood to the Nakba.
December 30: Premiere of a show specially prepared for the library by the "Atim" ensemble: a nocturnal theatrical journey to the archives of the "Ganzim" Institute in the basements of Beit Ariela, the great vault of Hebrew literature.
December 31: A special party organized by the "Zipporella" ensemble in honor of New Year's Eve. The event will feature sketches and miniature performances, which were written especially inspired by the various spaces of the building and as a tribute to the world of literature.
A plan to continue the launch events in 2022 has not yet been announced, but it is expected to include the Independent Press Conference, an event in collaboration with Tel Aviv University to mark the 1,000th anniversary of Ibn Gvirol and more.