Discover the True Story of the American Library in Paris | EUROtoday

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A one-hour guided tour takes guests on an enthralling journey via the historical past of the American Library in Paris.

The American Library in Paris is the most important English-language lending library on the European continent. Far greater than a non-profit lending library, the historical past of this exceptional establishment testifies to the super braveness and dedication of the people and the employees who lead and supported the library from its origin. It can be the story of an establishment that managed to adapt and survive for over 100 years.

Celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2020, the American Library has documented a complete timeline of its exceptional historical past and is now inviting the general public to find it for themselves on a historical past tour.

I lately had the pleasure of attending a library historical past tour and was riveted by the wonderful saga of the exceptional heritage of the library’s first century. Our tour chief, Mayanne Wright, an writer, educator, and longtime library volunteer, offered the impactful historic occasions as they unfolded, and swept us alongside as she associated the small print of the unlikely survival of the American Library via two World Wars and extra.

As recounted by Ms. Wright, the story begins in the course of the closing years of World War I, when the United States entered the battle and created the Library War Service, an enormous undertaking of the American Library Association (ALA). Through this initiative, greater than 1.5 million books have been shipped to American forces combating within the trenches. By the time of the Armistice, coaching camp libraries have been established within the United States and in France. After the conflict, the camps have been dismantled, besides in Paris, the place a central English-language reference library was created to accommodate the hundreds of thousands of books and periodicals which had handed via town destined for numerous navy outposts and hospitals. From the outset, this library attracted American servicemen, in addition to Parisian patrons and different English audio system who loved spending time within the welcoming studying rooms with their huge collection of books and worldwide periodicals.

During the tour, we realized how from these origins, the American Library in Paris was formally established in 1920 by the ALA and the Library of Congress as a non-public, non-profit group, with a core assortment of these wartime books. Through the years the management of the American Library has remained steadfast to its motto “Atrum post bellum, ex libris lux”: After the darkness of conflict, the sunshine of books. Its constitution promised to share the very best of American literature, tradition, and library science with readers in France.

The outdated circulation desk of the ALP, circa 1937 © Gisèle Freund

In a state of affairs the place reality is extra gripping than fiction, we realized the extent to which key people on the American Library remained true to its motto because the drama escalated in the course of the Nazi occupation of Paris throughout WWII. Against all odds, and regardless of hazard and hardship, the American Library in Paris remained open to readers all through the Occupation. It all performed out like a best-selling novel, besides that the challenges have been actual.

During the postwar period, the library prospered once more as readers renewed their zeal. The expatriate group in Paris skilled regeneration as a brand new wave of American writers got here to Paris and located their technique to the library. Our tour lined acquainted names of the extremely artistic individuals related to the library, comparable to Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, Edith Wharton, Henry Miller and Colette.

Over 100 years after its founding, the American Library serves about 5,000 members representing 100 completely different nations. The library has dramatically expanded its digital collections and its involvement with the English-speaking communities of Paris. It holds the most important assortment of English language supplies on the European continent and is completely community-funded. In 2016, the library underwent its first main renovation undertaking in a half-century, creating new areas for programming, research, and interplay.

Taking the Library historical past tour dropped at life the foremost challenges the library confronted all through its existence. Since its beginnings, the library has been sustained by each Americans and French who imagine within the energy of libraries and sought to create an establishment that may stay a cultural bridge between America and France. The participating one-hour go to flew by. I encourage you to attend the tour and uncover how the library continues to be anchored by its dramatic historical past and the idealism of its founders.

Tours are given Fridays at 11:00, final one hour, are freed from cost and open to the general public.

Pre-registration is required at web site:

Groups of 4 or extra, and some other inquiries – [email protected]

Address: 10 rue du Général Camou, 75007 Paris

Lead photograph credit score: ALP History Tour © Alfonso Sjogreen

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Discover the True Story of the American Library In Paris