The Minister of Culture, Françoise Nyssen, launched today in Rennes together with Erik Orsenna, writer, academician, the tour de France of the public reading that will conclude next spring with Estates General.

Erik Orsenna, to whom the minister entrusted this summer a mission of ambassador of the public reading - for which he will be supported by a member of the general inspection of cultural affairs, Noël Corbin - goes, until the end of the year, Travel across France to meet all the actors who make up the ecosystem of public reading: elected officials, library professionals, socio-cultural associations and booksellers whose role is fundamental in the territories.

The State wishes to extend the opening hours of libraries, especially on weekends, so that they are always more accessible to all citizens, especially outside office hours. It is on the theme of the articulation of library schedules with the times of the life of the users that this first move is made.

Thanks to the commitment of local authorities, France has an extraordinary network of libraries and media libraries, more than 16,500 facilities, They form the national territory and play an essential role for cultural democracy through their contribution to living together and combating inequality. As places of meeting, conviviality, training, debate and sometimes revitalization of city centres, libraries can become the new houses of culture.

40% of French people aged 15 and over visited a public library in 2016, compared to only 25% in 1997. This is one of the encouraging lessons of the study «Publics et usages des bibliothèques municipales» recently conducted by the Ministry of Culture. We have to go further: many of our fellow citizens cannot take full advantage of libraries because of opening hours that are not sufficiently adapted to their lifestyle. 

The mission entrusted to Erik Orsenna by Françoise Nyssen will assess the state of public reading in France. A report will be submitted to the Minister of Culture at the end of the year, presenting a diagnosis on the strengths of the public reading network, the expectations and the needs of elected officials and professionals to open their equipment more.  At the same time, another joint mission, inspections of the Ministries of the Interior and Culture, will define the budgetary needs related to the extension of library schedules in order to prepare government arbitrations. The State wishes to engage with local authorities and participate in the necessary effort to open public reading libraries.

For more information:

Erik Orsenna’s mission letter by clicking on this link: Mission letter

The study “Public and uses of municipal libraries” by clicking on this link: Study