Promoting reading in rural France

A handbook on how to promote reading in rural France was published in 1955 to advise staff in charge of central lending libraries (first set up in 1936) on managing libraries for rural populations. The article looks at how far such libraries have come over the past half-century, particularly since decentralisation in the 1980s when they began to be managed at département level. Though administrative reforms have brought about profound changes in the way libraries are managed, the handbook still has much to teach professional librarians today.