Ninety years after its founding, the American Library in Paris is looking to its second century of service to the English-speaking communities of Paris. The Library is a thriving nexus of more than 2,500 members – a third of them American – from more than 60 countries. It is a community lending library, a research library, a reading room, an educational center for children and adults, and a meeting place for a diverse and active community. Our challenge today is to adapt the Library to the latest information technology and library science trends to provide our growing and increasingly sophisticated membership with the finest in service, facilities, and programming – a library for the 21st Century.
The Library’s Second Century is our common challenge to assure a bright and active future for the American Library in Paris as we approach our second century. With a collection of more than 130,000 volumes, the American Library is the largest English language lending library in continental Europe. University professors, independent scholars, college and high school students consult our reference staff for guidance. Thousands of children and their parents participate in 200 programs for young people every year.
The Library’s evening programs, showcasing prominent authors and other public figures, each year attracts thousands of patrons and guests to lectures, political debates, poetry readings, slide sows and workshops. Guest speakers have included David Sedaris, Sara Paretsky, Adam Gopnik, Antonia Fraser, Ward Just, Laurent de Brunhoff and Tatiana de Rosnay.
The Library serves a community of people of more than 60 nationalities drawn together by a passion for the written and spoken word in English, by the repository of wisdom and the provocation that a library represents, and by the chance to know one another in that context.
The Library actively engages the English-speaking and French-speaking communities in Paris. American associations collaborate on programming and introduce us to new audiences. University year abroad programs make us their library away from campus.
For all its dynamism, its popularity and its outstanding success in becoming a major cultural center in Paris, the American Library faces constraints. Its unrestricted funding is limited, its facilities require upgrading and its technological resources need to grow. To face these many challenges and to remain an important center of American intellectual life in Paris, the Library has undertaken a €5 million ($7 million) Second Century campaign to bolster the endowment of the Library, securing our financial base and investing in our future.
The Campaign total raised from October 2009 to date is €2.15 million ($3 million) through a select few individuals and Foundations.