Dear Erasmus Classmates,
We continued our French project around the third place libraries. Now, we would like to present you the media library called Gustave Eiffel (the creator of the Eiffel Tower), which is located near Paris, in a city called Levallois-Perret.
The project of the media library Gustave Eiffel
The media library Gustave Eiffel was inaugurated in May 2011. It was created to replace 2 older and smaller libraries in Levallois which were closed. The library Gustave Eiffel is a big one, with a surface of 2,000 m² and is built on 3 levels, plus a reserve in the basement.
After a study of the public, the director of the libraries of Levallois and the elected representative decided to create an original library and organize it in a social and friendly place, because they saw with their study of the public, that people love to gather in a place to discuss and exchange. So, with this library, a new concept was born: the concept of “living-room in the city”. It’s a place which allows socialization and exchange between people, and this concept resembles the third place libraries which are especially prevalent in Nordic European countries.
The media library Gustave Eiffel is part of the network of 3 libraries in the city of Levallois. It’s open every day, 42 hours per week. The registration to the network of libraries, the access to digital documents and the borrowing of all materials (books, CD, DVD) is free for all the inhabitants of the city. To make the borrowing returns easier, a shuttle service exists between the various media libraries of the city, so the user can return any book in the media library of his choice. An automated electronic return system was put up in front of the entry of the media library, so books can be returned quickly, whenever.
Organization of the media library
The big glazed entry brings in light in what we can indeed qualify as a “living room”. The ground floor meets completely the concept of conviviality: it includes a welcome area equipped with sofas and furnitures on wheels containing in particular the press and some novels, a cafeteria with drink vending machines and café tables. A big reading lounge with furnitures on wheels containing comics and mangas, a space with toys for children and, finally, a space at the bottom of this immense room, containing several round tables where students sometimes come to work. The wall is generally used to exhibit temporary works (paintings, photos).
All the furniture is on wheels to be able to free quickly the space of the ground floor. Indeed, the media library welcomes numerous events organized by the city of Levallois. It can be a place of vote or another place of exhibition. Once a year, the media library organizes “my evening at the media library”, a small intergenerational party which brings together all the members of the family by activities around a precise theme (cooking, hip-hop dance, self-expression through movement).
The first and second floors are reserved for collections. On every floor, computers are self-service and desks overlooking the street are for quiet study, while benefiting from a fantastic view over the street Jean Jaurès. Reading armchairs are available for those who want to sit down to read. The vast desks of the librarians are indicated by a sign “questions?” and are available to everybody for any piece of information.
On the first floor, a room is specially designed for storytelling, where speakers who tell stories to the children without disturbing the other users. This room also welcomes the amateurs of video games during the holidays. The second floor is generally monopolized by students during exams, because a big workspace besides by the media library was fitted out. In the basement, we find the auditorium. A cinema of 123 places was designed to fill the absence of a cinema in the city of Levallois, and shows movies around themes. The sessions in the auditorium are always full and they often bring together regular customers who like meeting up in this place.
For the construction of the media library, an architecture competition was launched. The facade of the building is a reference to Gustave Eiffel who lived in Levallois. We can find a metallic structure similar to that of the Eiffel Tower, just like the plans that he drew himself. The space is very vast, and very open on the outside thanks to big plate glass windows. The acoustics of the media library cause some echo, but it urges the users to respect a studious atmosphere, which is pretty good.
The media library was built in an area with a lot of social housing because it answered the demands from a population living in small apartments, with often several children sleeping in the same room. The choice of this location also resulted from the desire to encourage children of the district to go to the library. Deprived of a library for almost 3 years, children didn’t get used to going to this place. So, the media library does a lot of work in partnership with primary schools to welcome classes on a regular basis.
On the other hand, the district has important renovations and has seen the construction of a luxurious shopping mall and luxurious shops, in contrast with the social categories of the populations who live there. That’s why there is all the same an important social mix that we find a varied public in the media library: people with few education, immigrant populations, nannies and children, students, business executives and elderly persons.
Maxime, Pascaline and Julie
Second year students in Booktrading, University Paris Decartes.