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French culture in the heart of London: La Médiathèque

Library of the Week: 11th July: This week our featured library is La Médiathèque at the Institut français in London. We find out more about the library and its impressive collections as we talk to head librarian Floriane Laurichesse. – thank you for taking part!

Books, media, social groups, and French culture – the Director of La Médiathèque of the French Institute tells us about what they have to offer.

Where do you work? Tell us a bit about what you do.

I am the head-librarian of La Médiathèque of the French Institute in the United Kingdom. We are based in South Kensington, London.
My aim is to manage a team of 5 librarians, to ensure the proper use of our budget and the quality of public reception, our library collection and services which we offer. As the head-librarian, I convey our needs to the Directing board of the French Institute and I also try to negotiate public and private grants from external benefactors.

What collections do you have? What does your library specialise in?

La Médiathèque is a free access library. We specialise in all that is related to France. For instance, if you want to re-visit a classic piece of literature, we offer a wide selection of books. From de Beauvoir to Zola and poetry to contemporary fiction – it’s all wrapped up in our library with copies in French and English. Our wide selection of non-fiction books ranges from cinema to arts and history. We also offer the largest selection of French comic books and graphic novels in London, for kids and adults.

La Médiathèque

For those of you who are starting up with the French language, we offer an ‘Easy French’ section full of learning tools, audiobooks and grammar books. Finally, you can search for French recipes in our Cuisine section or hop over to the Bibliothèque Quentin Blake, the children’s library, to entertain all young reader’s needs. Our bilingual librarians are always on hand to help you choose the right document that you are looking for.

For those of you who cannot make it all the way to London, we provide an online library called Culturetheque, which includes e-books, magazines, comics, podcasts, music, videos, resources for French teachers and learners and much more. Better yet, it’s all for FREE in the UK!

What’s your favourite item from the collections? Why? Tell us a bit about it.

Les Mille et une nuits : contes arabes, traduits en français par Monsieur Galland. Tome III

My favourite item is one of our most precious books from our archives, which unfortunately the general public has little opportunity to consult: the first French edition of the Contes des Mille et une nuits (One Thousand and One Nights). This edition is very antique and deeply tucked away in the archives of the French Institute. It cannot be generally consulted for reasons of conservation. Fortunately, the French Institute decided to digitalise most of our valuable documents. Feel free to browse our collection here:  https://issuu.com/institutfrancaisuk. This little piece of gold dust is now available to everyone!

What’s new and exciting in your library? What have you got coming up?

Our library hosts events a plenty in our listed building full of French resistance history. Every year at the end of January, we take part in the Night of Ideas, a worldwide nocturnal marathon of philosophical debates, performances and readings. In May, our Beyond Words Festival celebrates French literature in all its glory and diversity, giving centre stage to feminist novelists in particular. For the bookworms, we hold a monthly Reading Group in a relaxed setting. We have recently analysed the likes of Marcel Proust and Leïla Slimani.

Event in La Médiathèque

For kids, we organise regular Baby Comptines and Story Time sessions. This is for all parents and carers who wish to accustom their children to the French language in a fun and interactive way. Finally, our school activities invite teachers to bring along their students for a day at the Médiathèque. We will take care of your students with our themed tours, presentations, reading time and test their knowledge with a quiz at the end. For the last 25 years, we have been celebrating French and English children literature during the South Ken Kids Festival every November.

We hope to welcome you to our French library, à bientôt!

For more information, please check our website or catalogue: https://www.institut-francais.org.uk/la-mediatheque/ https://catalogue.institut-francais.org.uk/

Keep up to date with French culture with our social media:

Floriane Laurichesse – La Médiathèque

You can browse the holdings of the French Institute on Library Hub Discover.

All images copyright of the French Institute, reproduced with kind permission.

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