The name says it all: this vast reference library (no loans), located inside the Centre Pompidou, was opened in 1977 with a strong remit to disseminate information to the public. There’s no charge or fussy registration process – anyone can waltz in during open hours, with only special services such as desk reservations requiring staff attention.
While you’ll often find a queue of university students waiting outside at opening time, the library is by no means theirs; the BPI is a truly democratic space, its 430,000-strong collection encompassing novels, maps, e-books, magazines, sheet music, film and CDs (as well as the requisite academic texts). Fittingly, given the centre’s multimedia remit, there’s a strong emphasis on audiovisual content: computers, headphones and televisions hooked up to global news channels are all available, as is wi-fi. It’s all very sleek and neatly laid out, and comfy enough to make you want to stay for the day. A wonderfully generous and comprehensive library in the heart of Paris, and an obligatory visit for anyone who would accuse the French cultural sphere of elitism.
For more information, including an archive search function and a virtual tour, click here.
|Venue name:||Bibliothèque Publique d'Information||Contact:|
19, rue Beaubourg
|Opening hours:||Mon, Wed-Fri 12pm-10pm; Sat-Sun 11am-10pm; closed Tue.|
|Transport:||Metro: Rambuteau, Hôtel de Ville|