France: Libraries Discovering a New Lease of Life Beyond Just Books
From The Guardian:
Workshops, events, exhibitions, training courses and encouraging public participation in their management have become part of libraries’ roles. In some you may talk without whispering, use a phone, eat and even play computer games. Reading has become a source of sociability and the books on offer are supposed to encourage “social cohesion”. This trend towards greater openness, which started a few years ago, has only taken hold in a few of France’s 3,000 public libraries. But, it seems, it’s spreading.
For local people, access to the library is free of charge, in keeping with the “third place” concept much in vogue with librarians (the first two being home and workplace). “We’re in an intermediate place here,” says head librarian Elisabeth Rozelot. “Its vocation is to teach people how to be citizens and to develop their critical faculties, with the ability to choose their own leisure activities, meet others and take part in social life.” The library organises a range of workshops, including reading, computing, basket-making and lino-cutting, readings, slide shows and concerts. But there are employment and literacy support groups too, in partnership with local associations. The resident poet stages encounters with fellow writers.
About Gary Price
Gary Price (email@example.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com.