Modern manifestos on display
16 May 2019
Reading 2019 Gala Dinner honoree Martin Amis
26 May 2019

Celebrating ninety-nine years of the Library

The Library celebrated its 99th birthday with a special gathering on Tuesday 21 May 2019. To further commemorate this occasion, the staff collected ninety-nine facts about the Library’s history, including famous authors, membership statistics, collections circulation, programs, and much more. Have fun reading all about the Library.

  1. The Library’s thirteen-person staff hail from France, the United States, Scotland, Ireland, Portugal, and Croatia.
  2. The Library currently has over 4,600 members from over 60 countries.
  3. The Library’s first location was at 10 rue l’Elysées in the 8th arrondissement, directly across from the Presidential Palace.
  4. In 1933 a writer’s program was created which was the forerunner to Evenings with an Author.
  5. The Library collects bookmarks left inside of checked-in books; we currently have around 60.
  6. In 2013, the Library’s Teen Writing Group for ages 12-18 was founded with the support of author and editor Anne Heltzel and is now in its 6th year!
  7. In 1923 the Library launched Ex-Libris, early contributors included Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein, The Library still publishes Ex-Libris 4 times per year.
  8. The Library’s 30th anniversary was celebrated in 1950 at the Bibliothèque Nationale.
  9. In 1951 Sylvia Beach closed the original Shakespeare and Company and donated the bookstore’s circulating collection to the Library.
  10. Last year, Library members checked out and renewed a total of 139,883 items.
  11. The Library’s collection includes 8 different versions of Dante Alighieri’s Inferno, 11 different version of Homer’s Iliad.
  12. The Library celebrated its 75th anniversary at the Château de Versailles.
  13. In 1952 the Library moved to its third location on 129 avenue de Champs Elysees.
  14. The Library’s collection of Vanity Fair starts in 1913.
  15. The Library offers two visiting fellowships per year. Find out more about the Visiting Fellowship on our website,
  16. The Library has 6 fully qualified Librarians on staff!
  17. The Library’s Evening with an Author series brings over 60 speakers in the fall and spring.
  18. In 2019 841 stories were submitted for the Library’s Young Authors Fiction Festival, nearly double the number of entries in 2018.
  19. Samuel Beckett, Richard Wright and Mary McCarthy were active members of the Library in the postwar era.
  20. The Library held a flash mob under the Eiffel Tower and our teen film club edited the footage and made a video.
  21. The Library’s Book Award was launched in 2013 with a generous gift from the Florence Gould Foundation. The Award’s 7th Winner will be announced this year in November. You can find out more about the Library’s Book Award.
  22. The Library has a collection of nearly 100,000 books, audiobooks and magazines, that members can check out!
  23. Members have access to the Library’s digital resources, including the New York Times, e-books and digital magazines, Mango languages, JSTOR and more, from anywhere with an internet connection!
  24. Former collections manager Simone Gallo kept a stash of chocolate in the “C” drawer of the card catalog he used in the back office.
  25. The Library has its own YouTube channel where we post videos of Library Events!
  26. In 1964 the Library moved to its current location at number 10 rue du General Camou.
  27. Ta-Nehisi Coates, Amy Plum, Clementine Beauvais and Hilary Reyl have all been guest hosts during meetings of the Library’s Teen Writing Group.
  28. Always up for a challenge, the Library participated in the Mannequin Challenge in 2017! You can watch one of the videos we made here.
  29. In 1940 the Library’s staff fled Paris for their safety – except for the director, Dorothy Reeder, who kept the Library operating.
  30. The novels Moonlight in Odessa and Kitchen Chinese were written by former Program Managers at the American Library in Paris.
  31. Among some of the most famous visiting authors of the Library in Depression years were Colette, André Gide, and Princess Bonaparte.
  32. Library members come from over 60 different countries worldwide.
  33. Library members get a free glass of house wine at Café de Mars with their meal (remember to bring your Library card).
  34. In 1953, Senator Joseph Mccarthy’s famous team of Red-hunters, Cohn and Schine, turned up to sniff in the Library’s stacks for evidences of anti-Americanism but Library  Director Ian Forbes Fraser barred them from entering.
  35. Philosophers Raymond Aron and Paul Ricoeur, Economist John Kenneth Galbraith, participated to the first “Library Debates”in 1970.
  36. As a independent non-profit association the Library receives no funding from either the French or American governments and relies primarily on membership fees and donations to operate. Check here for more information about supporting the Library.
  37. The theme for the 2009 Gala was “A Celebration of Babar” and featured guest speaker Laurent de Brunhoff, the author and illustrator of Babar.
  38. Most staff members know the words to Baby Shark. After we used the viral song during our weekly Wednesday Story Hour about sharks we all had it stuck in our heads!
  39. Programs Coordinator Catherine, started a book group in 2019 that reads and discusses the Library’s Evenings with an Author speaker’s books in advance of their event.
  40. The Library’s biggest Teen Event each year is our Annual Literary Reaping! Now in its 7th year, the Literary Reaping will be held Friday 24 May 2019!
  41. 308 people attended the Gala in 2018 at the Westin Vendome with guest speak Salman Rushdie.
  42. Emilio Williams, has spoken at three events at the Library this year! He is preparing a book on surprising stories in the 7th arrondissement and each of his events has drawn a larger audience than the last!
  43. Approximately 38% of Library revenue comes from donations.
  44. The Library’s Writers Council includes previous Library Gala speakers and American Library in Paris Book Award-winning authors. The last writers to be added were Viet Thanh Nguygen, Salman Rushdie, and Julian Jackson.  Information about the Writers Council can be found on our website.
  45. The Library’s motto ‘Atrum post bellum, ex libris lux’ translates to ‘After the Darkness of War, the light of books’.
  46. Former Library Director Charles Trueheart was formerly the Paris correspondent for The Washington Post.
  47. While the “First Annual Gala Benefit Dinner” was held in 1987, the Library’s archives document a fundraising evening event in 1936.
  48. The Library first got internet in 1998 and WiFi finally was available in 2004.
  49. In 1936 the Library moved 60,000 volumes to its new location on Rue de Téhéran.
  50. Many of the photographs of soldiers and sailors using the wartime books sent overseas by the ALA, and from the Library’s earliest days can be seen on our Tumblr page.
  51. In 1920, the Library offered lifetime membership for 2,000 francs!
  52. The Library currently has 9 book groups that members can attend.
  53. Henry Miller’s 1934 novel Tropic of Cancer was banned in the United States but was available at the Library upon request!
  54. The Library’s card catalog was digitized for the first time in 1989.
  55. The Library currently has over 75 volunteers, who donate their time, energy, talents and expertise, ensure the smooth functioning of all areas of  the Library and create a welcoming and dynamic environment.
  56. In 2018 the Library hosted over 50 programs for adults and 300 for children and Teens.
  57. The previous occupant of our current building was a department store: Les Grands Magasins du Louvre.
  58. Our best attended event so far for 2019 was our panel discussion with journalists Sophie Pedder, Adam Nossiter, Marc-Olivier Bherer, and Karina Piser on the gilets jaunes, inequality, and the future of French politics.
  59. Volunteers gave 3,060 hours in  the Children’s and Teens’ Services Department in 2018.
  60. Upcoming EWA speaker Kristen Roupenian wrote a short story, Cat Person, that appeared in The New Yorker in 2017 and subsequently went viral in an unprecedented way.
  61. 17 out of the 76 books submitted to the 2018 Book Award had the Eiffel Tower on the front cover!
  62. Tiger Beat magazine might be the periodical in our collections that is most often stolen and/or defaced.
  63. So far in 2019 the Library has hosted 37 programs for adults and 92 programs for children and teens.
  64. The Library staff of 13 speak a total of 8 languages; French, English, Portuguese, Scottish Gaelic, Irish Gaelic,  German, Croatian and Cantonese.
  65. Past Library speakers include Marianne Faithfull, Kwame Alexander, Jimmy Buffet, Jim Gaffigan, Mo Willems, Kristin Scott Thomas Ta-Nehisi Coates, Rachel Kushner, Colson Whitehead, Jacqueline Woodson, David Lebovitz and David Sedaris, Laini Taylor, and so many more
  66. Comment: check the Library’s calendar of events for upcoming speakers!
  67. Our Current director Audrey Chapuis’ first library job was as a shelver at Widener Library in 1999.
  68. The top-circulating title in 2018 from our collections for teens was Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (ever popular), followed closely by John Green’s Turtles All the Way Down.
  69. Library volunteers help with tasks from welcoming visitors, to decorating for Halloween, to judging the Library’s Young Authors Fiction Festival, to labeling new books, to pouring wine at events, and to reading with our children’s librarians at Story Hours, and much more!
  70. Circulation of books is up 14% this year.
  71. By December 1920, the Library has 5,000 subscribers. Each member paid 100 francs initial fee and 100 francs annually.
  72. Library activities for teens in the past decade have included workshops on yoga, comic-book making, cupcake decorating, filmmaking, photography, and more, with games of Capture the Flag on the Champ de Mars, bad art nights, and a Haunted Library to celebrate Halloween.
  73. The top-circulating title in 2018 from our adult collections was The Bonjour Effect: the Secret Codes of French Conversation Revealed, followed by The Shadow District by Arnaldur Indriðason, and J.D. Salinger’s classic The Catcher in the Rye.
  74. In 1943 the Gestapo shot one of the Library’s senior librarians for not raising his hands quickly enough when being arrested but our librarian survived.
  75. The Bibliothèque Anglophone d’Angers was officially inaugurated in 1993. Their starting collection was drawn from the Nantes branch of the American Library which closed in the early 1990s.
  76. Library membership is up 21% this year.
  77. In 2018 the Library had 12 interns from Finland, the USA and France.
  78. The most used database provided by the Library is JSTOR with 1946 logins in 2019
  79. The most popular magazine in the Library is The New Yorker.
  80. The top-circulating title in the Library in 2018 across all collections was Pinkalicious by Victoria Kann, followed closely by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham’s The Princess in Black and Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Getaway.
  81. In 2018 the Library provided orientations for 1225 students from our institutional partner schools and universities.
  82. Our staff are currently undertaking a Goodreads challenge and keeping track of our reading. Library members can also take part. If you are interested in what we’re reading check our our blog!
  83. The Library has 88 periodicals in the adult collection and 11 magazines for children and teens. Only 80 of those can be checked out of the Library. We also have 89 titles in our Periodical archives.
  84. The Library’s Annual Halloween Extravaganza is the biggest event of the Library’s year! All the staff dress up and some start planning their costumes as early as July!
  85. The Libray’s bi-weekly newsletter e-libris has 7,200 subscribers!
  86. In 2016, the Library underwent a major renovation, and was closed for just over 3 months! Check out our before and after pictures of the Library’s Flickr account.
  87. Former collections manager Simone Gallo worked at the Library for 44 years before he retired at the end of 2014. He still volunteers for the Library helping with the adult collections!
  88. Summer Visiting Fellow Rhae Lynn Barnes’s work maps the political, economic, and cultural geography of amateur blackface minstrel shows.
  89. Out of the Library’s 13 staff members, 9 of us volunteered or interned before joining the staff.
  90. The Library is open 6 days and 54 hours per week.
  91. Upcoming Library speaker Ottessa Moshfegh is the author of Eileen, shortlisted for the 2016 Man Booker Prize.
  92. The Library’s special collections includes book from Marlene Dietrich, Janet Flanner, Nadia Boulanger and many others.
  93. Henry Miller wrote to the Library asking for books on Zen Buddhism but unfortunately we didn’t have any at that time.
  94. George Orwell mentions the Library in Burmese Days.
  95. Story Hour at the Library started in 1923! We still have it weekly in the Children’s Library.
  96. Author Mark Pryor set a murder in his mystery novel The Paris Librarian in the Library!
  97. The Library used to have two public access computers nicknamed Gertrude and Ernest (after Gertrude Stein and Ernest Hemingway!).
  98. The Library sells tote bags which have evolved throughout the years.
  99. The Library has had 20 directors in our 99 years! The longest running was Ian Forbes Fraser from 1947-1965.

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