“Opening more” libraries, but also “offering more” services, are the two main axes of the Libraries plan, shared by the Ministry of Culture, local communities and professionals, serving the same objective: modernize libraries to strengthen their role in the territories.
The report by Erik Orsenna and Noël Corbin He forcefully recalled that libraries are actors of a local public service able to guarantee equal access to the culture that French people expect. Often, they are the cultural places closest to them geographically; they can even offer their services outside their walls to invest village squares, streets, beaches, hospitals or prisons. Spaces of freedom and conviviality, they are open free of charge to all, from the youngest age; one can indulge in the pleasure of reading, discovery, meeting, sharing with family, study or play…
However, access to libraries suffers from their opening hours, which are often unsuited to the pace of life of our fellow citizens. Launching the dynamic of a wider opening was therefore a prerequisite. The first step of the Libraries plan, “open more”, attracted the interest of elected officials: 231 communities were supported in extending their library schedules in 2018, for an average of eight more hours of operation per week. This is a first result to be taken into account both in large cities and in small ones, since 60% of the libraries assisted are located in municipalities of less than 10,000 inhabitants. In 2019 and the following years, the State will continue to support local and regional authorities to open their libraries even more.
In the continuity of the partnership between the State and local and regional authorities, there is now a need to implement a second component, namely that libraries “offer more” services, with a view to transforming it into “local cultural public service houses”.
Libraries have already begun this second transformation, which must be amplified. Of course, they continue to ensure access to knowledge and information, by offering books, newspapers and magazines, music, films, video games, Internet access. This must remain the foundation of their missions and is particularly necessary at a time when the development of digital networks may tend to dilute thought and weaken quality information. They add cultural and playful activities, invest in digital mediation and homework support, help our fellow citizens in their administrative procedures or job search. They work with other local partners, associations or public services, and reinvent themselves through participatory dialogue with residents.
To invent the library of tomorrow, theState, communities and professionals are committed to the second act of the Libraries plan: the "Offering more" component, dedicated to the transformation of libraries and the extension of their missions in the educational, social and digital fields and wish to implement 3 axes of transformation of public reading:
- Axis 1: libraries, attractive and welcoming places: renovate, modernize and better connect spaces;
- Axis 2: libraries, a local public service: reinforce the action of departmental policies and encourage the pooling of libraries with other public services;
- Axis 3: libraries, actors of social inclusion: promoting digital inclusion and social action.