Before heading for the 80th IFLA Conference World Library and Information Congress, in Lyon, we spent a few days in the lovely city of Nancy, in the Lorraine region of France. Strolling around the Vieille Ville (old town) quarter we came across “L’Arbre aux Livres” (the book tree). This turned out to be a French version of the little free libraries that have been spreading like wildfire across the world since their inception a few years ago.
I spoke briefly to a volunteer who was busy adding some books and putting the collection back into some semblance of order. [Some disorder on library shelves is a sign of vitality; if everything is in perfect order, you have a problem — but that’s another story.] This little free library was the result of a collaboration by several parties:
As in the USA and elsewhere, anyone is free to borrow books and add their own contributions to the collection. L’arbre aux livres is located on a busy square, adjoining a well-frequented brasserie. It was good to see a constant stream of patrons of this establishment, both young and old, interrupting their consumption of beer and wine to sample the books.
There are worse things in life than sipping wine and browsing bookshelves on a mild evening as the sun is setting in Nancy.
À votre santé!