This is your guide to Paris libraries where you will find all the practical information you need to access their services.
As the summer school holidays approached, I found myself on a quest to satisfy my daughter’s insatiable hunger for new books. That’s when I stumbled upon a hidden gem that would become our family’s refuge of imagination and discovery—the Paris libraries.
Where are Paris libraries?
There are 57 free public lending libraries (bibliothèques de prêt) across Paris. You can find the complete list of locations here. There are also 15 specialised libraries which offer unique book collections or books focused on specific topics such as the history of Paris, music etc.
When are Paris libraries open?
Libraries in Paris are generally closed on Sundays, Mondays and public holidays. During school holidays, libraries change their opening hours, so make sure to check the times before going to register. You can check the opening times for the library nearest to you online.
How to register at Paris libraries
The process is straightforward and open to both residents and non-residents of Paris. To register, you must come to the reception of the library of your choice in Paris with the following two items:
- Completed registration form, accessible through this link
- Proof of identification, such as a passport or an identity card, for both kids and adults
Once registered, you will be issued your library card like the one below and asked to sign it at the back. The library card will have your name, validity date and the library barcode number at the back. This card is valid for one year and must be renewed annually by presenting it with your ID at any library.
Kids of all ages get their library cards to borrow books in their name.
What can you do once you register at Paris libraries?
With your card, you can borrow up to 40 documents (books, magazines, etc.) from any of the 57 libraries for four weeks. During the summer holidays, the loan period is extended from four to eight weeks for the same number of books.
Renewals are possible twice unless the books are reserved by someone else or overdue. You can renew them in person at the library or online under your user account.
Beyond physical materials, Paris libraries also provide a wealth of digital resources. By logging on here and accessing your user account, you get over 15,000 books and 200 audiobooks for free download. While most of the books are in French, there’s also a selection in English, Spanish, German, and other languages.
What do Paris libraries offer for children?
Libraries in Paris take pride in fostering a love for reading and learning from an early age. Many libraries offer specialised programs and initiatives designed to engage and entertain young minds.
Registering with Paris libraries gives you access to Storyplay’r, a fantastic digital resource that offers children aged 0 to 8 more than 1,700 albums to read or listen to online. You can access the Storyplay’r website here, where you will be asked to insert your library card and password (your date of birth in ddmmyyyy format) to access the website. The website is divided into age groups, making it easier for parents to find appropriate content for their little ones.
- Selection for 0-3 year olds
- Selection for 3 – 6 year olds
- Selection for 6 years +
I love the fact that many books offer both a “Read” (Lire) and “Listen” (Ecouter) option. Kids have the opportunity to listen to audio recordings of the storyteller reading the books. There’s a convenient option for parents to turn the pages manually or allow them to turn automatically. Additionally, you can adjust the audio speed, either slowing it down or speeding it up. This feature is incredibly helpful for me, as my children understand French much better than I do.
You can even download Storyplayr Mobile app via your iOS (available on Apple Store) and Android (available on Google Play). You will find books for kids in French and also English language.
You can access a magazine called En Vue (available in libraries and online) which shows free events for kids offered across all Paris libraries and gets updated regularly for news. Conveniently, the events are divided into different areas of Paris (arrondissements) so you can quickly see which events are happening in your area. Events are free but require prior registration.
Here are some examples of activities offered for kids during summer holidays:
- Storytelling and read-aloud sessions: run by professional storytellers or children’s books’ authors and sometimes with musical accompaniment and singers to bring the stories to life.
- Creative workshops: children discover book illustrations and complete different art projects
- Exhibitions: children books’ authors and illustrators exhibit their work across different libraries
These events provide an immersive experience and inspire a lifelong passion for learning.
Happy reading to all!