The place of libraries in the complex web of territorial reforms

The French government has launched a project for territorial reform with the aim of reducing the number of levels of regional administration managing the same services, thereby cutting expenditure. Libraries are managed at five levels - the state, the region, the département, the inter-municipal grouping, and the municipality - and it is common to find financing coming from three or four different sources. The legal texts in question only grant jurisdiction to libraries, not to policies promoting reading, which libraries are there to implement. The general jurisdiction clause, which is acknowledged to apply to municipalities but is being challenged at the level of the département and region, places libraries at the heart of cultural, educational, and social policy, making them key services in the local community. It is likely that libraries, or cultural policy in general, will continue to be managed at all five levels. This means that elected representatives and library professionals must constantly strive to ensure libraries are run in a suitably complementary manner, while spending public funds wisely.