The American Library in Paris was established in 1920 under the auspices of the American Library Association with a core collection of books and periodicals donated by American libraries to United States armed forces personnel serving their allies in World War I. The Library has grown since then into the largest English-language lending library on the European continent. It operates as a non-profit cultural association in France incorporated under the laws of Delaware.
The American Library in Paris celebrates the written word and the life of the mind. Through our evolving collections and innovative cultural programming, we promote knowledge, inspire lifelong learning, and promote a sense of community. We are a welcoming home for the thoughtful and curious in Paris.
• Showcase a varied, curated, and enduring collection of the best English-language print and digital books, periodicals, and other materials.
• Bring together writers, readers, thinkers, and creators of all ages for meaningful conversations through programming, workshops, and cultural events.
• Create a welcoming space that encourages reading, writing, and thinking in English to support the pursuit of scholarship, lifelong learning, and personal growth.
• Encourage engagement and interaction within our local and global community and honor our century-old heritage of multicultural understanding.
During the closing years of World War I, when the United States entered the conflict, hundreds of American libraries launched the Library War Service, a massive project to send books to the doughboys fighting in the trenches—by the Armistice, nearly a million and a half books.
The American Library in Paris was founded in 1920 by the American Library Association and the Library of Congress with a core collection of those wartime books and a motto about the spirit of its creation: Atrum post bellum, ex libris lux: After the darkness of war, the light of books. Its charter promised to bring the best of American literature, culture, and library science, to readers in France.
The Library’s email newsletter, e-Libris, is published every two weeks throughout the year, with short hiatuses in August and at the New Year.
The newsletter highlights programming for adults, children, and teens; fundraising initiatives; archival discoveries; collections and borrowing updates; and much more.
The American Library in Paris’s print newsletter, Ex Libris, began as a literary review published in the mid-1920s, during the first years of the Library’s existence. The publication was dormant from 1926 until the mid-1980s, when it was revived as ALP Notes, as a seasonal recap and review of Library news and events. That format continued until 2020.
The Annual Report is published in June for the previous calendar year, in time for the Annual General Meeting of the Library’s Board of Trustees and membership.
Evenings with an Author: The Library hosts more than sixty evening events a year featuring authors, filmmakers, musicians, journalists, scholars, and other public figures. All but a few of these programs are free (with a suggested donation of 10€) and open to the general public, thanks to continuing support from Gregory Annenberg Weingarten of GRoW @ Annenberg. All evening events are listed on the Library’s web calendar.
Twice a week, the Library welcomes speakers like Elizabeth Kolbert, Jenny Odell, Lauren Elkin, Joshua Cohen, Torrey Peters, Yaa Gyasi, Pap Ndiaye, Tobias Wolff, Kristin Scott Thomas, Reza Aslan, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Rachel Kushner, Nicole Krauss, Tash Aw, Colson Whitehead, Viet Thanh Nguyen, David Hare, Jane Smiley, Jimmy Buffett, Emmanuel Carrère, Jelani Cobb, Zadie Smith, Adam Gopnik, David Sedaris, Michael Palin, Richard Ford, Paul Auster, Ottessa Moshfegh, and many more.
Most Evenings with an Author are hybrid, and can be attended in person or live on Zoom. Recordings of past events are made available on the Library’s YouTube channel.
On the Road: For the first time in its 102-year history, the American Library in Paris is bringing the Library to a French-speaking audience with On The Road, a program inspired by the American author Jack Kerouac. On the Road will travel to libraries, museums, and schools in the Île-de-France and Hauts-de-France regions. In each partner venue, we’ll present two days of enriching cultural activities for all ages. This program is generously sponsored by the U.S. Embassy & Consulates in France with support from The Hauts-de-France and Ile-de-France regions.
Critical Conversations: Critical Conversations, the Library’s expert-led discussion series, allows Library members to ponder the most important issues of our time.
The American Library in Paris Book Award: The annual Book Award honors a title that best realizes new and intellectually significant ideas about France, the French people, or encounters with French culture. Qualities considered in submitted works include literary merit, depth of insight, and originality. The Book Award considers works in all genres, published originally in English. It was launched in 2013 and carries a $5,000 prize, which is supported by generous funding from the Florence Gould Foundation.
The Visiting Fellowship: The Library’s Visiting Fellowship, generously sponsored by The de Groot Foundation, is a month-long opportunity for writers and thinkers to pursue a creative project in Paris. Recipients of the Fellowship must be working on a project that contributes to cross-cultural discourse and are required to engage in the intellectual life of the Library during their stay.
Children’s and Teens’ Services: The Children’s and Teens’ Services department is one of the Library’s busiest corners, hosting over 200 programs a year for members ages 0–18. The recently expanded Children’s Library and Teen Mezzanine contain over 20,000 print volumes for young readers, and the department’s two MLIS certified librarians offer reading recommendations, curated book lists, research help, and programs. Visit the web calendar to see all of our programming for children and teens.
Young Authors Fiction Festival: The Young Authors Fiction Festival is Paris’s only creative writing initiative for children writing in English and receives hundreds of submissions a year.
Press requests for information, images, and interview opportunities may be directed to the Communications Department:
Phone: +33 (0)1 53 59 12 60
Images may be used online and in print, with permission, by accredited media.
All photographs must be attributed.
For permission, contact Communications Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All print and online publications and images issued by the American Library in Paris are the intellectual property of the American Library in Paris, and the copyright for individual articles and images rests with the authors for the legal duration stipulated by French copyright law. No American Library in Paris publication may be reproduced without express written permission from the American Library in Paris. Please credit the American Library in Paris when citing in whole or in part.