Aiming for an open, tolerant, convivial library: looking back at an experiment in unlimited lending at a municipal library

Since the mid-2000s, a number of French municipal libraries have been experimenting with unlimited lending. The step has sparked debate: a study of the results sheds light on its impact and points up the key factors in making the scheme a success. The article looks at the various contexts in which the scheme was launched, its limited impact in terms of library activity, and the perspectives it has opened up in terms of the image of libraries in a society that often considers that cultural consumer goods should be available in unlimited supplies for free. In this context, lending limits appear to be an inexplicable, outmoded anachronism.