Promoting reading via the Observatoire de la lecture publique: the map and the territory

Iegor Groudiev, director of the Observatoire de la lecture publique (the body in charge of overseeing public reading initiatives) at the books and reading division of the French Ministry of Culture and Communication, looks back at the context behind its establishment in 2008, when one of its stated remits was to consolidate the annual base of library statistics and to draw up a map for surveying public reading services across France. The article notes that public libraries have been surveyed and evaluated in France since 1969: however; the survey methods and range of libraries involved have not remained constant over the years, making it impossible to compare results over time. The Observatoire’s aim has been to draw up a number of indicators based on one definitive reference population. As a result, the number of libraries surveyed by the Direction du Livre has increased from 4,293 in 2008 to 16,300 now. The article presents the survey methodology and the three levels of information currently available on the project’s own website.