Choice of the latest books is extremely limited, and I find time constraints unbearable. I read some books in 48 hours and others in 4 months.
After decades of reading nothing but professional journals and newspapers and magazines, Mr. Kimby has, in retirement, finally discovered reading for pleasure, or edification. He greatly prefers non-fiction, regarding fiction as mostly a time-waster. (He does like movies as well as documentaries so I’m not sure why fiction films are fine, but fiction books mostly aren’t.) Anyway, he reads book reviews then goes to our library website and puts titles that interest him on hold. The library has access to the collections of something like 18 partner libraries, and when his name has risen to the top of the list, the book is transported from wherever it was checked in by the last reader and sent to our library. When it arrives, we get an email saying we have a week to pick it up. New books are 2-week loans, but older books we can keep for 4 weeks, allowing me to read the ones that interest me, a small subset of the ones he checks out. If we need more time, we can renew IF there isn’t another hold on it. If there is, we keep it till we’re done with it. For 10 cents a day in fines, we can keep a book 20-30 days for what even a discount eBook costs.
And the library also has ebooks and audio books to borrow.
I checked the rules for Paris. You can check out up to 20 documents at a time and keep them for 3 weeks, except for the ones in high demand which you can only keep one week. In the summer months, you can keep things for six weeks in most cases since a lot of people still tend to go away for a month. The time can be extended twice unless someone else has reserved a book. You have a week to pick up a reserved book. The 57 municipal lending libraries do not swap things around, but then again I would imagine that many of them might be bigger than where Kimby lives. There are another twenty or so reference or historical libraries that do not lend their books. And of course on top of that there are the national libraries. I don't know if they lend books or not.
If I may answer that partly, Kimby -- the French library system was light-years behind anything I knew in Toronto when I first moved here. There have, however, been improvements over the years. At first, I had the impression that despite France being known for its culture, it was intended only for a limited group. Students didn't have access to stacks at university libraries! The first city I lived in here, Besançon, had a terrible library and I went once and got discouraged by the limited choice and the attitudes of the librarians.
But over the years, libraries now have sharing systems so you can indeed get books that are at other branches, in Paris or Toulouse, certainly not in small places. They have finally become computerized, so even in the suburb where we lived in Toulouse, you could order a book online and be notified when it came. It cost 10€ a year with no late fines, so of course, some people were not very good about returning books on time.
There is also an idea that libraries are there to provide books that people might not ordinarily buy because of cost, so the library often bought "intellectual" literature like the annual literary prize-winners rather than best-sellers, but some of those too.
The small place we are living in now has a small library although they are building a new one, in fact a "médiathèque", so they will have music and DVDs as well. Anything to get people to come and use the place,which is certainly a good idea.
And as I have mentioned, there are book boxes set up in many places. The city has put up several in Bayonne, which are well used. Where our son lives between Bordeaux and the Bassin d'Arcachon, there are boxes at the entrance to some beaches, at the train stations... And at the local charity shop, there are lots of books too, often in various languages depending on the holidayers who come here, so in English, Dutch, Spanish and German as well as the books in French.
Our library participates in a network that links libraries that are possibly 100’s of miles apart. They have a truck(s) that makes the rounds and collects reserved books, DVDs etc from each library and delivers to the others.
Seems inefficient, but when you consider the cost of maintaining duplicate collections at each location, and the infeasibility of individuals DRIVING to another town to collect reserved materials, it works pretty well. (We CAN however, return material at any affiliated library, which is great because the tiny library at the small town near our lake cottage is affiliated with the network.
Other than the 10 cents a day fine for overdue materials, and the replacement cost assessed for lost materials, our libraries are free, meaning their budget is financed by our taxes. (Like our health care and education SHOULD be!)
Just checked last year’s tax details, and of our $4600 property tax bill, $63 is earmarked for the library.
This comes from an activist website, so the language can be a bit annoyingly "correct", but I find its main points most salient: www.rabble.ca/news/2019/08/future-public-library-under-attack We have a new library (opened a few years ago) a couple of long blocks south of chez moi. People are allowed to drink water, coffee or tea and there is a reading room with a gas fireplace which is most pleasant in the winter, with a lot of natural light. There are activities for children and teens, as well as for a range of interests, obviously including greater knowledge of computers and cyberspace. There is a métro station next door which is now accessible via a lift. It is in a setting similar to the one Kerouac has described in his neighbourhood.
Our main library here, la Bibliothèque et archives nationales du Québec, better known as la Grande bibliothèque, is indeed located in an area where homeless and marginal people congregate (it is also next to a university and a major métro station). This does make it a centre for "outreach" but also obvious hygiene, theft and noise problems.
Lagatta, do they still use the word bibliothèque in Québec? In France it has been pretty much abandoned for médiathèque, even in the small towns. So far, the BNF and the library at the Pompidou centre have kept the 'bibiliothèque' name, though.
Yes, we still use bibliothèque, though often accompanied by médiathèque. I think the idea is to enshrine the importance of books and reading, though obviously there are many media involved, just as in France. Isn't every book at BNF now available as a talking book?