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Macron wants to see libraries open on Sundays and evenings

Ⓒ AFP – ludovic MARIN – | The President of the Republic Emmanuel Macron (c) and the Minister of Culture Françoise Nyssen (d) at the media library of Les Mureaux (Yvelines) February 20, 2018

President Emmanuel Macron and Minister of Culture Françoise Nyssen on Tuesday called on libraries to open more in the evenings and Sundays in order to “reduce the cultural and social divides”.

Currently, only 130 of the 16,500 libraries and reading points in France open their doors on Sunday.

And, during the week, “many of them open to the hours when most French people work”, being closed at lunch time and early in the evening, regretted Françoise Nyssen.

It is therefore necessary to “change pace” and “open more and more”, calls the writer Erik Orsenna who presented a report on the future of libraries to the president and the minister aux Mureaux (Yvelines).

Emmanuel Macron visited for three hours the media library of this city in the great suburbs of Paris, presented as “exemplary” because it opens on Sunday and offers many activities in addition to the traditional loan of books and videos.

France is well equipped since it has as many libraries as post offices. But these cultural facilities, often modern, are open only 41 hours a week in major cities against 78 hours in London or 98 hours – a record – in Copenhagen.

This situation had been denounced by Emmanuel Macron during the presidential campaign and he had made the extension of schedules one of his election promises.

According to him, access to culture is an integral part of the “battle for emancipation”, which is the “red thread” of government policy.

– ‘financially difficult’ –

The report drawn up by Erik Orsenna and Noël Corbin, inspector of cultural affairs, sets the average weekly opening time at 45 hours for cities of 50,000 to 100,000 inhabitants, and 50 hours for those with more than 100,000 inhabitants.

In Les Mureaux, which has 32,000 inhabitants, the library is open 28 hours a week “and we would like to open more, but it is financially difficult,” said the president his mayor, François Garay (DVG).

The Association of Librarians of France (ABF) welcomed in July 2017 the extension of opening hours, while warning against the impact of “the decline in financial resources of local authorities.”

The government has increased by eight million euros the general allocation of decentralization for libraries for the next five years.

This should make it possible to support “200 extension projects”, according to the Orsenna report, which however considers this effort insufficient.

For the academician, “it is not in Paris that we must decide” such projects, but at the local level because “the expectations of the populations differ from Dunkerque to Nice, from Cayenne to Nouméa, and depending on whether student or retired “.

In 2015, local authorities spent 1.7 billion euros on public reading, including nearly 1.2 billion to pay the 38,000 library workers, according to the Ministry of Culture.

In their report, MM. Orsenna and Corbin call on libraries to “adapt to demand” and “become public service cultural houses” because “50% of people who come in do not come for books”. In Les Mureaux, the media library thus hosts tutoring classes, art and dance workshops and a “fab-lab” equipped with 3D printers as well as a “micro-madness” digital museum initiated by the Grande Halle from La Villette to Paris.

The report, which highlights the contribution of the 81,000 volunteers who allow libraries to operate, suggests increasing the use of students and encouraging in smaller towns “the pooling of local and host staff” between libraries and libraries. postal agencies.

“Why not book kiosks in swimming pools, gyms, hair salons, doctors’ waiting rooms?”, Write the authors.

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