Who wouldn’t want to go to the American Library? Look at the view you get when you are just about to enter the front door of the library! I couldn’t believe it when I showed up at their doorstep. You know how it is. I am focusing on which side of the street to be on and the number that coincides with their address, how to open the door, and then Whamo-o-o, I looked up and sideways!
Yet, by no means make a view of the Eiffel Tower the reason why you decide to head to this destination. Rather, take a step into this welcoming, user-friendly, all-encompassing ‘words on the page’ space. They have so much to offer to even short-term Paris visitors or, of course, for the ones that settle in more long-term.
We started by being greeted and informed about the library before we began our tour around the bookshelves. We looked very studious, didn’t we?
This American Library tour took place because AWG (American Women’s Group in Paris) offered this as one of their events. I joined AWG and this was one of the first events I signed up for after joining. I had attended an author event just a week or two before at the library. Author interviews are offered to the public and do not necessitate paying a membership fee to the library.
Alec Lobrano was the one interviewing David Lebovitz. (But please take the time to read this delightful interview with Alec: http://thegannet.com/interviews/alec-lobrano/)
Two of David’s books are above on the right, with ‘An Apartment in Paris’ being his most recent, taking one through the exploits of buying and remodeling a Paris apartment. David’s background includes being the pastry chef at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, Ca. for years. You may know this as Alice Water’s restaurant? But he moved to Paris, I want to say, at least a dozen years ago.
That evening, the ‘house’ was overflowing with English-speaking Parisian foodies intense on hearing this interview. And, it turned out to be a treat, thankfully to say, without any added calories! This is just one of the numerous services offered by this ‘going-to-be-a-hundred years old in 2020’ library. Their website chronicles their history and you can walk through their comprehensive website, whether you are in Paris….or not…: https://americanlibraryinparis.org/history/
The library’s history is fascinating. The stars of its history are just as awe-inspiring as is its persistent efforts to stay a Paris presence. For instance, as they mention, it is the largest English language lending library on the European continent. It was the only library left open during the occupation. Names like Edith Wharton, Gertrude Stein, Charles Seeger (yes, related to Pete Seeger), Sylvia Beach are all within its past history. Current day writers such as Diane Johnson and Patricia Wells come to write here. If you are a book-lover, reading the library’s history will only make it clear that the power of words is hallowed by many and the freedom of the press is essential to everyday living in a democracy.
The library moved into this space in 1964. They have an average of 200 visitors on a slow day and up to 400 on others. The space was remodeled just a few years ago (2016), allowing for conference rooms, private rooms, a Children’s Room, a magazine and journal section too.
The membership affords you access to digital readings of all sorts. There is a calendar of events online, for instance, including creative writing sessions, author events, teen events, children’s story hours, book club meetings, to name a few. They also partner with over 40 educational schools–universities to Montessori schools.
I befriended someone sitting next to me who is a traveler for the next few years. She decided to join so she could have access, digitally (e-books and e-magazines), to what they offer, while she’s ‘on the move’. As an added bonus to my visit that day, we have stayed friends and, before she headed out of Paris, we met up at least weekly and poked around the city in search of exploring areas that had been updated recently or made our way to current exhibitions.
The American Library’s address is: 10, rue du General Camou, 75007 Paris. Here are their hours of operation: There was another opportunity to meet women of the same ‘mind’. Several of us women attending the visit went to a nearby restaurant for lunch. Here is Alec Lobrano’s ‘Paris by Mouth’ review of the restaurant: https://parisbymouth.com/our-guide-to-paris-la-fontaine-de-mars/
In the Teen reading area, I met up with my favorite message of the day:
And, I’ll leave it at that….as that is ‘music to my EYES’.