A Bookish Haven for Americans in Paris
Little known to tourists, the American Library in Paris has existed since books were first sent to WW1 doughboys. Here the LA Times gives us perspective on both the history of the library and its current operations. Here's the library's website.
Like every library in the world, it is challenged by changing reading habits. “I’ve understood all along — every library understands this — that if all you’re doing is warehousing books and being a lending library, you’re going to die,” director Charles Trueheart, a former foreign correspondent from the Washington Post says. “You’ve got to offer people all kinds of other stuff, now that they may be going for books in another way. ... And our programming is not just authors, but it’s art appreciation, music, fashion, education, politics, current events.”
The library also contracts with U.S. universities to provide services to American exchange students and compiles study material for French students seeking accreditation as English teachers. Indeed, for all its appeal to Americans in Paris, the library has plenty of French members and supporters.
“There are a lot of French people who are very serious about keeping up their English, and they come to events in English at the library,” says author Diane Johnson, who has lived off and on in Paris for decades and chairs the library’s Writers Council, composed of such colleagues as Julian Barnes and Adam Gopnik.