A study of readers: an artist takes her sketchpad to the Bibliothèque Publique d’Information

Édith Mercier spent time at the Bibliothèque Publique d’Information as part of an applied arts course, sketching users in various poses – some suggesting a reader hard at work, others (often in secluded corners) in more relaxed postures, hinting at an intimate, pleasurable reading experience. The various poses may prove surprising to library professionals. They reveal a highly individual relationship to books, reading and libraries, reflecting a range of readership practices that do not always adhere to the image of focused readers all sitting in neat rows suggested by the layout of reading rooms in older libraries. The article is illustrated by numerous sketches from life, outlining a typology of relationships with books, from working tools to sources of intense pleasure.