Date: 24/03/2009, 8:08 PM     Author: Arnon Ben-Dror

The General Military Library, named after Lt. Gen. (res.) Haim Laskov, which since its establishment in 1964 was located in the Templar Colony in Tel Aviv, moved to the General Staff Military Base (Rabin Base in Tel Aviv) and was opened for visitors on Sunday (Mar. 22). The library provides more than 30,000 books. Among them is collection of 3000 books donated by former Chief of the General Staff Haim Laskov, as well as rare books from the nineteenth century – all dealing with the topics of military and security: military history, military strategy, international relations, and weaponry. The books can be borrowed, as in any other library, with one restriction: The borrower needs to be an IDF (Zahal) soldier or officer. The library is also subscribed to 80 magazines which can be read in the library.

In addition to loaning books, the library also provides additional services: Senior officers who attend university and consult this large source to write their papers, represent the majority of the library’s visitors. The librarian Aviva Tzweig assists them with defining their subject, finding the right material in the library, and carrying out comprehensive searches on the internet. In addition to that, the library opened a virtual database on the internal IDF (Zahal)-net, which is updated every two months and includes recommendations of recently published articles and books, and announcements of lectures and seminaries outside the IDF (Zahal) on security related topics.

Aviva Tzweig: A Librarian with Heart and Soul

When Aviva Tzweig answered an ad in a newspaper that she read by chance in 1983 – “Looking for librarian for work in General Military Library” – she would never have guessed that 26 years later she would still be managing the IDF (Zahal)’s military library. “I didn’t think I would stay for 26 years,” she says. “But it really interests me. There are constantly new conflicts, and new books are written about old conflicts, and it is always interesting to see new aspects and to get people interested in them. There is no end to it and therefore I want to continue,” she explains.

Aviva finds the books she chooses to acquire for the library in notices or on informational sites on the internet, which she constantly looks for in order to keep the library up to date. Books about the war in Georgia, for example, are already available in abundance. Aviva, however, did not always know a lot about the material, as it came with experience over time. “I learned the profession by doing it,” she says it about herself, but she does not mean the profession as a librarian, which she has years of experience in: She received a Master’s degree in librarianship from the Haifa university already in the 1970s.

With all her experience and knowledge in the area of librarianship, Aviva tries to always stay up to date. At the beginning of the age of the internet in 1993, she requested from the head of the Literature and Teaching Unit of the IDF (Zahal) that the library be connected to the World Wide Web. In 2002 she started a two year course and received a Master’s degree in database management – the modern version of librarianship. “The internet is great, but you need to know how and where to search, because it is an ocean you can drown in,” she explains. And so, Aviva has been invited during the last few years to speak at courses for IDF (Zahal) senior officers about the topic of “Efficient Research on the Internet”.

“Aviva loves the library a lot and gives everything,” says the soldier who works with her at the library. “She is professional and also a good commander.” Nevertheless, it seems that life in the library can become boring, especially after 26 years. Aviva does not feel that way: “I am not lonely. People come to me all the time for advice, and I like helping them and directing them towards the material that is best for them.” Indeed it seems that Aviva does as much as possible: “Sometimes when someone can’t read English or another language, and he needs something urgently for some homework, I translate documents for him,” she says. This is obviously not one of the job requirements, but in this case Aviva, for a change, does not follow the routine.