Address by Frédéric Mitterrand, Minister for Culture and Communication, on the occasion of the press conference presenting the 14 proposals for the development of the region

Ladies and gentlemen elected,
Dear Librarians,
Ladies and gentlemen heads of associations,
Dear Heads of Corporate Foundations,
Ladies and gentlemen directors,
Do you remember that an illustrious character
«110 propositions» to the French; more recently, the author of a
noticed report formulait 316 proposals! I will do more
modestly 14… on a subject obviously more circumscribed, but all
also essential: that of reading. Thank you for being present at
the occasion of the presentation of these measures by which I mean
contribute to the goal of “culture for everyone”, which is my
head of the Ministry of Culture and Communication.
I am fully mobilized by this issue of reading and I have well
the responsibility of my department in this area. Because
reading is not a cultural practice like the others: it is,
in a way, the one that conditions all the others. Access
works of fiction that allow the development of sensitivity
and openness to others and the world, reading essays that
develop the critical sense essential to the exercise of citizenship and
help us better understand the complexity of the world: these are
privileged entry keys into the field of culture.
This requirement of “reading for everyone” is a priority for me
absolute policy. I wanted all my services – central
and decentralized – seize it, and I also want to mobilize
local and regional authorities and all institutional and
associations working in this field.
The background to these proposals is well known:
it is the slow erosion of reading, and its decline as
cultural practice since the 1980s. It has been
unfortunately confirmed by the Decennial Practice Survey
French culture, published last fall by the Department.
At the same time, this survey revealed the rise of new
reading practices, as well as structuring a “screen culture”
in the 14-25 age group. This development is not without
risk, but it also offers opportunities. It therefore imposes
a profound renovation of our intervention methods.
Over the last 20 years or so we have seen a diversification of
uses of the book – literature occupying a declining share in the
production of books and in the practice of reading – and, more
yet, a diversification of text supports. With the
development of the magazine press and especially the spectacular rise of
this «screen culture» I was talking about, we are more and more
read on other media than the book, so that the fate of this
The latter is no longer inextricably linked to that of reading.
Reading books has long been subject to competition from
activities and remains, in the minds of some, closely
associated with the school world. As a result, it encounters a
to be part of the leisure time, lived mainly
as time of relaxation, pleasure and conviviality,
especially among the younger generations.
The book has also, overall, become commonplace as it has been distributed with
the extension of schooling, the development of pocket books and
sale in supermarkets. It has lost its power of fascination
for those who, by their social and cultural origins, were not
The European Commission’s Green Paper on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Protection, Consumer Protection and Consumer Protection.
At the same time, the rise of electronic media has made it lose its
hegemony as a means of access to knowledge and as a vector
personal enrichment, especially among
moderately educated.
For its part, the audience of lovers of literature has hardly expanded. One
may even feel that it has tended to tighten around the core
people who have a professional relationship to the book (whether they are
teachers, librarians, book professionals and
culture in general).
In addition, libraries and media libraries, which are the facilities
of which attendance had increased the most since 1989,
increase slightly, even if the decline in
of enrolled in libraries is to be taken to take with many
precautions. As new uses of places of public reading become
development, and a library is no longer just a place where
borrows books.
This is the diagnosis, all the more worrying as it confirms a trend
started several decades ago.
However, my conviction is that this development is absolutely not
that this erosion is by no means inexorable.
I note, for example, that the United States has recently
change a trend similar to the one we know in
developing strong action through their cultural agency
National Endowment for the Arts, with a program entitled
The Big Read, focusing on literature, mobilizing schools, actors
community associations.
Restoring the taste of reading to everyone, whatever their origin
social, geographical, cultural, requires a strong political will.
This will drives me and that is why I propose
today these 14 measures to reinvigorate a desire to read
among our compatriots.
At the outset, I would like to point out that I wanted to present “proposals”.
not a turnkey “plan”, as my department’s action in the
reading is largely a partnership: this is my
method, which I believe is the most appropriate for our culture.
Firstly, the policy of reading is shared within the State
with the Ministries of National Education and Education
My colleague Luc CHATEL announced yesterday at the Salon du Livre, the
measures to combat illiteracy, and I welcome his commitment to this
essential subject and the perfect coordination with which we act.
Student reading and university libraries
under the Ministry of Higher Education. Again, the
public reading should be conceived in a global way and not
in a competitive manner. Thus, a city that
must be concerned with the state of academic libraries in the area, and
especially since French university facilities are lagging behind,
opening hours, has the consequence that the
Municipal library users are often students…
In his recent report, Senator GAILLARD called for the designation
a single institutional leader in book policy. I believe that
the Council of the Book brings a satisfactory answer to this requirement
better coordination of public action. Moreover, the
the digital library diagram, which Bruno RACINE gave me at
on the occasion of the Book Council of 22 March, of which I will speak later,
represents a remarkable example of work-sharing between
My 14 proposals are also aimed at local and regional authorities,
because their commitment is irreplaceable to make the
French cultural network with its 16,000 structures. Politics
For a long time now, public reading has been a controlled policy
mainly by local authorities. This characteristic
history of our country has been confirmed by the great laws of
1982 and 1983, which, as you know, transferred the
management of departmental lending libraries to departments.
The Ministry of Culture and Communication must assume a role of
community. Its mission is to ensure that the
show the way, at a time when the uses of libraries
changes, notably due to the digital environment and the general
our company.
Finally, my proposals are addressed to the associative actors, whom I
wishes to support and accompany more strongly.
I greet in particular the presence of Alexandre JARDIN, whose
remarkable association, Read and Do Read, performs a work
copy in schools. I’ll come back to that.
These associations act with great efficiency and remarkable
creativity within the school world, with people with disabilities,
in neighbourhoods, in rural areas, in prisons, in
hospitals, retirement homes – wherever specific audiences
require. These associations are essential partners in
the project that is mine to better share the taste of reading to
all our fellow citizens.
Some of these proposals will see their impact reinforced by support
sponsors. I would like to greet the representatives of the companies here
who will be willing to commit to it and with whom we will
deepen our dialogue. Because reading is not only a matter
It is a matter for the State, but for everyone.
A constant preoccupation guides these proposals: that of taking
new uses and diversity of today’s audiences on
all of our territories. Society is changing; social practices and
the digital revolution is changing our relationship
texts and writing, and more generally our access to goods
I wanted to have the most global vision possible, by developing a
new reflection on the offer and services offered by libraries
and media libraries and by implementing a
awareness-raising and sustainable mediation.
Over the past 20 years, the department has launched national touring programs.
towards supply, through the construction of equipment to complement
planning. The Municipal Libraries Program
Regional Vocation marked the 1990s; it is now closed and has
allowed the equipment of cities such as Limoges, Marseille, Reims,
Montpellier, Orléans or Rennes, with a high rate of intervention of
the State (by no less than 40% on average), thanks to the General Endowment
Decentralization. In 2003-2005, the “hive” program, or
small local media libraries, half of which are in rural areas
and for the other in the suburbs, have benefited from specific credits, and since
2006, they are taken over from the appropriations for the special
the General Decentralization Allocation.
Now I feel it is necessary for my department to be concerned
to accompany the local authorities in the equipment
essential to meet these new uses.
My proposals resolutely take the path of the public and their
uses, particularly with regard to digital, which is the issue
years to come, and of which I made the priority of my action. It offers
new potential, which I hope to exploit most effectively
possible, and constitute one of the main levers of my
“culture for everyone”.
It is time to get to the proposals themselves. I will now
present them to you, you will find the details (including figures)
in the press kit.
I would like to point out that they will mobilize nearly 100 million
of euros per year – without including the budget of the Public Library
information. These proposals will result in redeployments of
credits. The evolution of our cultural policy passes a capacity to
to mobilise the means already available differently, it is not a question of
only to have new means. The sedimentation of our
systems require the ability to rethink their organization and
So let’s come to the proposals. They are broken down into three components:
I – The first component is to adapt libraries to new
uses of reading and digital.
Public libraries must evolve. The omnipresence of virtual
in our lives will probably increase the need for real, dating
and exchanges. Our approach to libraries must be more
population-oriented, and the diversity that makes them up.
They must become true places of life and conviviality,
offering multiple services in line with new needs
emerging in society. They must also go and conquer
new audiences, develop out-of-home actions and establish a
multiplicity of partnerships.
The two libraries my department is responsible for must be
at the forefront of an action in line with new usages, in
placing the social diversification of their audience at the heart of their project.
The Public Information Library (BPI) is an important lever.
I hope it will renew its project, its culture and its methods of
to become a pilot laboratory for experimentation and
innovative practices. This development should lead to
to encourage reflection at the national level, in a dynamic of dialogue
and exchange with its territorial partners.
As for the National Library of France (BnF), which has, in Hautde-
Garden, with a space of 1.600 places open to all, I wish that its
activities and the offer it offers allow the reception of an additional public
more diversified.
As part of a renewed partnership with local and regional authorities,
I also wish to:
Promote the extension of the opening hours of 50 libraries
regions located in the 50 most densely populated communities
population after Paris. A specific envelope will be dedicated to this
necessary measure.
I also want to put in place a “digital contract” for their
libraries and media libraries, to better deal with the news
practices related to the emergence of screen culture.
By 2015, all libraries and media libraries in the
communities of more than 20,000 people will be computerized and
will have a website. I recall that today, 2/3 of the
public libraries in our country still do not have a
internet access.
I would also like my department to partner with
5 major libraries or regional funds for creation
5 digital reference libraries.
In order to implement this digital contract, I want to mobilize
differently the appropriations of the General Decentralization Allocation,
co-managed by the Ministry of Culture and Communication
the Interior, and ensure that they can now benefit from
equipment for digital services.
The second strand aims to encourage innovative actions that can
advance this ideal of “culture for everyone”, e, the occurrence of the
“reading for everyone”, especially for young audiences.
I will propose to the local authorities new contracts «the
territories-reading contracts”, specifically targeted at neighbourhoods
peripherals (as defined in the Dynamic
Espoir Banlieues”), but also in rural areas. These contracts
will mobilise both operating and
investment: 2 million euros will be spent on these contracts,
funding capped at 50% for my department, or a
total of €4 million.
As I said, I want to help more significantly the
associations and double the financial envelope allocated to them.
I already mentioned the association Lire et Faire Lire by Alexandre Jardin. This
association does exemplary work in schools across the country
of our territory, mobilizing retired volunteers to
reading to young students. 250,000 students are currently involved
action. I hope that together, together with my colleague,
Luc Chatel, we can reach 1,000,000 students by
three years. We will be working on that in the coming weeks.
I also think of ATD Fourth World and the actions that this
association leads in rural areas, to the association ACCES, as well as to
the “Accompaniment to Reading” action led by the Association of
Student Foundation for the City (AFEV) and student volunteers who
are committed to the populations furthest from reading.
It is also in this perspective that I will launch from May 27 to 30
a new book festival entitled "It’s up to you to read!". Founded
on a participatory principle that consists in inviting the French to read in
public space, it will benefit from new partnerships, including
with Education Nationale, Bayard Presse and SNCF for a passelivre
» national. I will have the opportunity to present this holiday more
details in the coming weeks.
Another reading promotion operation for everyone holds me all
especially at heart: these are «First Pages», a device that
offers, with each new birth, a book for the child and a guide
reading. This operation is done in partnership with the Caisse Nationale
of Family Allowance, whose representatives I greet here present, and with
the 6 departments in which it is in the experimental phase: I
wishes it to be extended to half of the French departments by
The third component aims to better coordinate and observe action than
my department leads with all its public partners, in order to
increase efficiency.
I want to perpetuate the dialogue resulting from the Digital
libraries that Bruno RACINE gave me on March 22, creating
a working group within the Book Council and entrusting it with
The report’s main recommendations are being implemented.
I also want to modernize the national information system of
the Observatory of Public Reading, expanding it from 4000 to 16.000
places of public reading and adapting it to international exchanges of

Finally, together with local and regional authorities, we will create a
shared information for a better knowledge of
reading from the conclusions of the study that was carried out this month of
March by the Centre for Research and Study of Living Conditions
All these proposals, which I address to the partners in the
reading policy, needs to be deepened through collective work
which will be returned in autumn 2010, in Nancy, during the first Assises
National Reading Centres, organized with the City of Nancy and the
National Center of the Territorial Public Service, of which I greet the
These are the main points of my proposals for
the desire to read it in our country and thus contribute, through reading, to
give everyone the keys to enter the world sometimes difficult to access
of culture.
Finally, I would like to thank the Directorate-General for Media and
Industries Culturelles (DGMIC) and its Director General, Laurence
FRANCESCHINI, and in particular the Book and
Reading and its director, Nicolas GEORGES, administration of which I greet
quality and which, contrary to what we sometimes hear, is neither
dissolved or dislocated… but on the contrary stabilized in its workforce and
its organizational chart, and fully mobilized.
Thank you for your attention, and I am at your disposal to
answer your questions.