The oldest and largest English-language lending library on the European continent, the American Library in Paris today serves a broad membership of more than 2,500 families and individuals, including researchers and professionals, scholars and students, retirees and children.
The American Library in Paris was established in 1920 under the auspices of the American Library Association with a core collection of books and periodicals donated by American libraries to United States armed forces personnel serving their allies in World War I.
The ambiance, services and resources of today’s American Library in Paris combine what one might find in a mid-sized American public library and in a small liberal arts college library. Our department for children and teenagers is a popular attraction and a driving force in membership. Book groups, art history workshops, spelling bees, scholarly talks and musical interludes make the place dynamic and alive.
In the last few years, the Library has become the leading center in Paris for English-language public programs featuring authors, scholars, journalists, experts and other public figures presenting their latest books and contemporary topics to enthusiastic and often standing-room-only audiences.
The Library boasts a collection of more than 130,000 volumes and performs some 226,000 transactions every year. We provide members and users with on-site access to two digital content databases from Jstor and Ebsco featuring full-text articles from more than 3,500 periodicals.
The global prominence of the English language continues to broaden the Library’s appeal. More than half of its current members are non-native English speakers interested in learning more about American culture and, more broadly, the English-speaking world. Bi-national members families are common, as are American students studying in France and French students studying English and American culture.
Evolving information technology is spurring important changes in the roles of libraries. Once custodians of proprietary book and manuscript collections, libraries today offer access to the legacy of the written word through diverse online and digital formats, immeasurably extending the boundaries of knowledge defined by their book collections. At the same time, libraries are increasingly serving their communities as meeting points where individuals with similar interested come into association and dialogue through presentations, book groups, workshops, discussions and other special events. In the atomization of contemporary life, libraries have become valued neutral ground for civic discussion, cultural explorations and community formation.