The American Library in Paris is back
The American Library in Paris has its grand re-opening this weekend! They will be opening their doors to the public and it’s an Open House, so this is the perfect weekend to go and check it out if you’re not a member yet. Or maybe you are already a member and you’d just like a nose around all the renovated facilities! From 1pm until 7pm on Saturday 25th September, there will be events running to get you acquainted with the revamped space, including digital tutorials, a special story time and a scavenger hunt. And if you needed more temptation, Boneshaker will be supplying doughnuts. Full details of the Re-Opening special events can be found at the American Library in Paris website here.
An English language haven
The Library is an amazing resource for Paris families. It’s the biggest English-language lending library in continental Europe, and they have an excellent children’s department. But the role of the American Library in Paris, as far as expat life is concerned, goes well beyond the lending of books. They have such a rich programme of events for adults, with book clubs, talks by authors and film screenings. It was one of my first memberships when I arrived in Paris and it remains something of a spiritual home for many expats. It can be a bit of a relief, after a week struggling in French, to find yourself in this English language haven, browsing novels or listening to a talk in your own language. In September, author Jane Smiley will be speaking. In October you can go to a screening of ‘And I Still Rise’ about Maya Angelou. The Library programme brings such a lot to Paris cultural life.
Fantastic kids programme
The events programme for kids is outstanding, with regular calendar fixtures such as the annual Halloween celebrations, as well as one-off events such as Roald Dahl Day drawing families in. The Library hosts regular, scheduled weekly events for kids, such as Toddler Time (which some of you will remember used to be called the Mother Goose Lapsit) for the 1 – 3-year-old crowd and Story Hour for 3 – 5-year-olds. These gatherings are not just a chance to get your kids interested in English Language books, they are also a way for you to meet other English-speaking parents and make some new friends. Older kids can join the Bookworms group or writing workshops. Teens are also catered for, with film clubs and writing workshops. You can find the events calendar here on the American Library in Paris website.
The history of the Library is fascinating. It began in 1920 with a collection of books that had been donated to American Servicemen supporting their allies in World War 1.
Just around the corner from the Champs de Mars
The location is ideal, just off the Champs de Mars, on rue General Camou in the 7th district. It’s perfect for combining books with a play in the Champs de Mars. Their opening hours are great for families too – they are open all week, allowing you a great rainy day hang-out with your toddler or a family destination as they are even open on Sunday afternoons.
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If you’re looking for a volunteer role here in Paris, to give back to the city a bit, or to keep your CV fresh, there are quite a few volunteer roles available at the Library, from the welcome desk to social media.
Membership is 70 Euros for kids and 185 Euros for the whole family. It may seem a lot but when you think of how much you could spend buying all the books you would love you and your kids to read in a year, it is good value. It also avoids hoarding and means that our Parisian-sized apartments do not have to be completely filled with bought books – the kids can read them and take them back and choose more. Just be better than me at getting your books back on time as I have definitely boosted their budget with my fines history.
If you want a little help to get your kids’ book browsing off to a good start, take a look at the MLP guide to the best picture books about Paris for 3 – 6-year-olds.
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The American Library in Paris, 10 rue General Camou, 75007 Paris. Tel: 01.53.59.12.60