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They closed the library so we set up our own

A year ago, the mairie gave premises and now they have well over a thousand books and 78 members

When Montpellier’s American Library, with its 40,000 books, closed a few years ago after running for 40 years a group of determined readers in the town decided to start their own library.

They formed a new association, Friends of the Anglophone Library, FOAL, to do similar work and, as they did not have access to any of the old books, have had to work hard to build up a collection and to find premises.

Victoria Metherell said: “We could easily have given up but we were determined.”

The library started in a language school and moved several times but Mrs Meth­erell said “it was tough going at times as it was difficult to increase membership with no permanent address”.

They concentrate on keeping their shelves interesting by buying new publications: “Right at the beginning, we completed a project to collect the 100 Best Novels of the 20th century using various lists found online.

“We also have the 10 Best Novels of the 21st century and keep up to date with books that have just come out.

“To do that a group look at book reviews and meet to discuss which ones we should buy. That is great fun.”

Mrs Metherell says the library is appreciated. “It is good for the Anglophone community and it is also popular with local people who like reading in English. Around half of our membership is French.

“We have added a Children’s Section, which we have wanted for a long time, but we did not have space.”

Fund raising and social events are key and the next is on February 2 with the annual literary quiz, which members work on for a whole year.

Apart from having books to borrow, the library in Rue Lakanal also has a sale and holds English conversation classes as well as a book chat on the latest books. Website: Foal34.free.fr 

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